AW12 Nail trends: DIY Painterly Two Tone Manicure

You all know I’m a big fan of a nail trend so when I spotted a video on creating an ombre nail effect I decided to have a go myself. I’ve been craving something new for the new season and this just seemed perfect before I turn to my autumn/winter nail wardrobe of steely greys and inky blues.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I toyed with several colours for this look and trialed it with the navy I eventually chose, Chanels muddy purple ‘Paradoxal’ and also a Nars silver which I liked for the futuristic mixed metals look it gave. The most dramatic however was the Navy, so thats what I chose for the finished look. It’s a very subtle metallic navy that with a couple of coats looks almost black, Betty Blues 110 by No. 7 at Boots.

To get the look you will need:
Your two chosen colours.
Your usual base coat and a clear top coat.
A cosmetic sponge.
Some cotton buds.
Nail polish remover.

  • So first off, apply your base coat (the paler shade.) I’m using a Topshop polish here, a super metallic white gold shade called Crystal Clouds. I only used one coat as that gave a dense enough colour, and don’t forget your base coat first.

(The most difficult thing about this look is that layering the polishes, however you do it, disturbs the coats you have already applied, so this coat needs to be really dry before you start again. I applied mine then went out and did the rest later.)

  • Next up, working one finger at a time, paint a corner of the cosmetic sponge with the second (darker) shade of polish. You only need to paint a small area – about the size of your nail. You don’t need a lot, just enough so theres still some on the sponge, allowing for some to soak in.
  •  Carefully sponge the polish onto the nail. (Don’t worry, you will get it all over your fingers too but we’ll clean that up later.) Once you’ve got the hang of it and if the amount of polish on the sponge is perfect you can start half to two thirds of the way down the nail and build the colour up towards the tip. However I found this a bit unpredictable and started at the tip to test the effect and worked further down as the sponge got less saturated. You can sometimes do a couple of nails before you need to repaint the sponge.
  • Work fast and lightly; as I said above, once the polish is wet if you mess around, you just start to take it off each time you press the sponge on. At this point it’s about creating a finish that you are happy with. If the sponged edges get a bit ‘definite looking’ I went back with the gold polish and making sure most of the excess polish is wiped off onto the bottle, added a couple of extra dots of polish then sponged around them. You’re looking to create a painterly watercolour effect where the two colours just bleed into each other.
  • Finally, you want the tips to have the appearance of properly applied varnish so you might need to apply a little extra there to get the depth of colour. By now your fingers will probably look like you have dipped them into a paint box to dip a cotton bud into your nail polish remover and scrub around the edges and tops to remove all the extra polish from your skin.
  • Finish with 2 coats of topcoat to give a smooth glossy, ultra high-shine finish. When you apply the first topcoat you can actually muddy the finish a little more by very lightly dragging the colour around a litre if you want to improve the effect.

So there you have it, what set out to be an ombre nail is actually more of a painterly two tone and I love it. The gold mixed with a darker shade seems light enough to nod to the end of summer but has more than a hint of the new season about it.

What do you think readers? Are you going to be trying this one out?


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16 thoughts on “AW12 Nail trends: DIY Painterly Two Tone Manicure

  1. I’ve tried this already with different colours using an on line tutorial using just the sponge and it was a disaster – went with a 2 tone french mani in the end instead! Will def try giving it another go like this though! I might have chosen bad polishes to try it with.

    • Have you got the miracle drops Bex? I think the key is making sure the bottom layer is super dry and then not messing with the top layers too much – it’s difficult because the effect is layered but the more layers = more messing = more likely to strip off the polish beneath…

      Good luck Everyone!!


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