Recently, I managed to grow my nails out all long and dramatic instead of doing anything actually useful. My reward for keeping them filed and in good enough repair to actually count as long was to do a bunch of French manicure styles with studs and chalky pastels and that sort of thing. But then, tragedy.
I went on a business trip and broke 3/5 of my fancy long nails. It was, I will admit, a little bit of heartbreak wrapped up with a bow and presented to me at baggage claim. I might have hummed a funeral dirge when I trimmed off the last few.
But short nails are also awesome and it isn't like I was going to stop painting my nails just because they were a little stubby again. Also, it's so much easier to open soda cans, as Annie has demonstrated to us all.
Instead, I've been obsessed with glitter. I've been doing glitter accent nails and trying different stripes and putting matte topcoat on top of it all. (Matte topcoat over glitter is so effing fun.)
My favorite thing, though, is the same kind of glitter gradient I was having so much fun with when my nails were long.
Glitter gradients are way easier than regular color gradients, too. Just pick a base color and paint your nails. When everything is dry, take a chunky glitter polish (I really like Essie's LuxEffects glitters for this) and put a stripe of it on the tip of your nail. Then, using the brush but without dipping back into the polish bottle, push some of the glitter up toward your cuticle.
You want the glitter to be concentrated at the tip and then for it to thin out as you get higher on your nail. I also aim for a sort of inverted V shape when I'm doing this so the glitter trails out down the center of my nail. Think of it like dry brushing. In fact, if you need to wipe off the nail brush on some paper towel, do that and see if it makes it easier to place glitter in a fine trail.
Then, apply topcoat and admire what you've done. Your fingernails will be mega sparkly and look far more impressive than if you'd applied a full coat of opaque glitter polish. I used a super sheer pink called Grace (by Julep) and Essie's A Cut Above to get the almost-natural glitter gradient above.
Or, because you can't leave well enough alone, you can reverse the whole concept.
I got my monthly Julep Maven box last night and pretty much immediately sat down to make out with this teal color named Lena. I completely jacked the reverse gradient idea from a friend on Instagram. Which is why Instagram is brilliant.
Instead of starting with glitter at the tip of your nail, for this, you start at the cuticle. I layered three different glitters to get kind of an encrusted effect (including a rando Julep glitter, A Cut Above, and Set In Stones) going on. But if you've got a multicolored chunky glitter, this is the kind of application where it would be super amazing.
The end result isn't fancy nail art or anything with rhinestones. But it mimics some of the covered-with-bling tendencies I'm seeing from the fance nail salons right now. And I particularly like the reverse gradient because it's a little unexpected.
Whichever direction the glitter gets applied in, my nails end up super sparkly in the sunlight. I wind up gesturing a lot more, too, just because I like seeing the shine.
What do you think of glitter gradients? Do you talk with your hands more when you have a cool manicure?
Marianne is always up for talking about nail polish on Twitter: @TheRotund.