How^2torial : Nude Glitter Gradient Nails


Naked + sparkles? Omg it’s Cher at the 1998 Oscars. (Yeah, I could’ve referenced more recent red-carpet gowns from Rihanna or Beyonce, but I’m OLD, OKAY?) Anyway. This is one of my favorite, favorite manicures, and is great for “I want something super neutral, but also super interesting.” It’s pretty versatile, and it’s dead easy to do. Hooray! Let’s get started.


  • A textured glitter polish in a shade not too far off the color of your skin or nail beds*
  • Your usual base coat (Nailtiques 4Eva)
  • Optional : a thick fat smoothing top coat
  • Also optional : a quick-dry top coat

* You can technically do this with ANY color and ANY kind of textured glitter polish. But : it’s very difficult (in some cases impossible) to get a smooth and fairly even gradient effect if you use a polish in a color that’s super dark. (Most pastel-ish or desaturated/dusty mid-tone colors will work fine, tho.) It’s also more difficult if your polish is super mega chunky. I prefer something approximately in the range of my skin tone, and with a few bits of medium sized glitter, but not chunky enormous glitter. Regular Zoya Pixie Dust polishes work well, but the rougher Magical Pixie Dusts are harder to work with, particularly if you want to top coat them to a glassy-smooth finish. Orly’s “Pixel” polishes are great for this (they’re like regular Pixie Dusts plus some medium glitter bits), but my fave — used below — is Misa’s Flutter and Feather. I think this is the only polish I’ve EVER bought a back-up of.<3


  1. Base coat your nails as usual with something clear (not tinted or milky). Let dry.
  2. Grab your textured polish, shake well, and wipe almost all the polish off the brush.
  3. Starting at the tip of your nail, TAP (don’t brush!) the polish on using the flat cut end of your brush, not its sides. Here’s a brief video showing this in action, on one of my Silver Fake Robot Swatching hands because it was easier to film than my own hand:

I’ve actually got a bit too much polish on the brush here, oops. But you get the idea! Start at the tip of your nail to get most of the polish remaining on the brush deposited in that area, and tap/work downward toward the center, getting increasingly sheer as you go. You can stop wherever you like, but I usually like to go a bit past my Visible Nail Line (all the free edge plus an eighth of an inch or so) following roughly that same curve. If you get too much polish deposited where it should be sheerest, you can just pat it lightly with your finger tip to remove some and sheer it out.

Here’s a nail with one coat sheered out toward the center :

Okay technically it’s two nails.

4. Finish your first coat on all nails and let dry.

5. For the second coat, do the same thing — wipe off most of the polish, start at tips, work inwards. But this time, you’ll stop the polish line closer to the tip — roughly where your free edge starts. You can actually do little light brushstrokes on this coat, since you’re primarily building up color/glitter on the very ends. Here’s two coats, no top coat :

6. Let dry, and if you want a smooth shiny surface, coat first with a thick smoothing top coat (I use my own, but Gelous works great too) and then a quick-dry top coat while the first one’s still wet.

All done! Ooooooo, shiny!

VARIANT : If you’re down with the rough feel of the textured glitter polishes, do your base coats as usual, making sure it’s a base that dries clear and shiny, then do the process above but don’t top coat it at all. The contrast between glossy-yet-bare nail beds and MATTE glitter tips is funnnnn!

TEXTURED GLITTERS : Yea or nay? Yay or neigh? Oui/non? Ja/nein? Da/nyet?