Color gradation, the shade fade, and the ombre are synonymous for a nail art technique that seamlessly blends two or more colors. The gradient effect, while subtle, offers maximum impact when executed well. “I find it much easier to make an ombre look great when I use the darker of the two colors as the base,” says Los Angeles-based nail tech, Mary Wolf. Follow these steps for the perfect blend of color.

1. Paint the base with two coats of the darker color. Cure.

2. Apply light strokes of the lighter color over the base starting a little more than halfway up the nail. The first layer should be barely visible. Cure.

3. Continue to build the lighter color by applying it toward the tip of the nail. Cure between coats. The lighter shade should be most opaque at the tip.

4. Apply top coat and cure.

For more tips and tricks from Wolf, visit her Instagram @nail_wolf

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