Ombre nails are a popular nail style featuring a classy, gradient design by the same name. The design has been used everywhere, from fashion to hair, and makeup trends. Ombre was a thing even before the 1900s, like when sewing blocks held rainbow-colored thread inside textile factories.
In this article, we talk all about ombre nails. We’ll look at some unique ombre nail designs, colors, and styles and show you how to pick the most eye-catching color combinations. So, let’s ombre!
Ombre Nails DIY Video Tutorial
Learn how to do ombre nails yourself at home with this easy step-by-step video guide.
What Are Ombre Nails?
Do you remember learning shading techniques in art class? That’s ombre nails in a nutshell, the gradual blending of one color into another. Ombre designs may use various colors, shades, and textures, blending them together in an intuitive way, like light to dark, for example.
What Do Ombre Nails Look Like?
Ombre nails use two or more colors. The design is gradually shading and blending the two colors together until one is transitioning into the other seamlessly. But that’s a traditional ombre design. Ombre nails can include other types of design concepts, like
- Gestalt design principles
- Color theory
Gestalt designs consist of five basic principles or key elements. We’ll talk about them more later. Gestalt designs are based on separate elements coming together in an appealing and artistic way, through
So, how do you know which colors will blend well and look amazing? One way to figure this out is by using color design theory to pick the best color combinations. Color design theory can help you combine colors in the most pleasing way. To get the most from the colors you use to create ombre nails, there are three rules of color design theory you can reference:
- The color wheel
- Color harmony
- Color context
You can use the color wheel to choose the best color combinations for your ombre nails design. Try mixing and matching two or more colors and create a color palette, your ombre nails color scheme (fair warning, making color palettes can get addicting!)
Keep reading for more ombre nails design ideas and color combinations that rock!
Ombre Nail Styles
Besides choosing the colors or design that you want for your ombre nails, you may be trying to choose the best nail shape. Maybe you don’t want nail extensions. That’s okay because ombre is pretty versatile. Ombre nails work for long nails, short nails, and natural nails.
Pink Ombre Nails
The colors you can choose from to create gorgeous, fun pink ombre nails are limitless. And ombre designs like these don’t have to follow a strict blending style. These pink ombre nails use shades of rosy polish that look blended from a distance, but as you look closer, you can see the distinct lines which separate each shade. Doesn’t that tickle you pink?!
Coffin Ombre Nails
Coffin ombre nails are a deadly good look! Reminiscent of their name sake in shape, this angular, funky nail shape is perfect for those looking for an edgy take on classic ombre nails. This soft, white set would be the perfect set of Christmas nails thanks to the addition of the pretty snowflake accents adorning two of the nails. We like the moderate length of this set of coffin ombre nails, but you can definitely take them shorter or longer, depending on your tastes and lifestyle.
Ombre Nails Pink To White
Pink to white ombre, or pink and white ombre, is another name for a French ombre nail style. Perhaps the key difference may be in color used for the nail bed. Pink and white ombre nails usually feature a deep pink nail bed which transitions into a bright white tip. The design is less subtle. There’s often a greater contrast in pink and white ombre nail styles compared to French ombre nails, which may have a light beige or neutral nail bed hue.
Summer Ombre Nails
There’s nothing quite like the carefree days of summer. It’s all about vacations, swimming, and wearing high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen (at least 30!). You can also get into the spirit of summer with brightly colored summer ombre nails. Imagine soaking in the humidity of an ancient, tropical island. Well, if you live in the south, you’re there!
There are few things hotter than Texas in July 😵💫. But these tequila sunrise-inspired summer ombre nails just might be hotter! If you’re not familiar, a tequila sunrise is an Arizona-born beverage crafted with orange juice and grenadine (pomegranate juice). Its colors are vibrant orange and reddish pink.
Check out the steps below to create summer ombre nails at home.
|What You Need||How to DIY Summer Ombre Nails|
French Ombre Nails
The French manicure broke into Hollywood making its debut on the big screen in 1976. Or so the legend says. And by legend, I mean Jeff Pink, the legendary creator of Orly nail polish and nail care products. Pink claims that he was approached by a movie director who complained that each time scenes required a wardrobe change, so too would make actresses’ nail polish. Pink was tasked with finding a manicure that could go with everything. The rest is history.
French ombre is a play on the classic French manicure. Traditionally, french manicures feature a clear-cut distinction between the white tips and the rest of the nail. French ombre nails blur that border to create a gradual progression instead.
Blue Ombre Nails
There’s a reason certain hues look amazing together, and as it turns out, it isn’t random. Thanks to science, complementary colors look good because of the way our eyes perceive them. And this blue ombre nails look brings together blue and orange are complementary colors and the colors that our eyes expect to perceive next to one another. We love the way the blue ombre nails‘ tips blend seamlessly into a soft orange hue – like the way the sunset reflects on the ocean.
Glitter Ombre Nails
Have you noticed how glitter always seems to reinvent itself? On the one hand, it’s cute, on the other hand, it’s elegant. Glitter ombre nails can look minimalistic or bold. It looks great on bare nails or painted nails. You have colorful glitter, big sparkly glitter, micro glitter, shimmery glitter, loose glitter, glitter polish, and… glitter ombre.
White Ombre Nails
From far away, you might think those are just some simple white ombre nails. But then you notice the detailed design making these white and ombre nails something impressive. White ombre nails can mean a few different kinds of styles. It can refer to white nails with the typical ombre design, blending two or more colors. And it can also refer to wearing some form of solid white polish on most of the nails, then styling only one or two ombre nails. Think of accent nails like you would accent colors.
Ombre Nails Black
Ombre typically goes from light to dark shades, but black ombre nails like these prove you can do the opposite as well. To achieve this design, you can use a darker shade, like black, and make the tip of the nail very dark, gradually lightening the color as you move up the nail bed.
Acrylic Ombre Nails
Acrylic ombre nails manicures are typically done at the salon unless you’ve had a bit of practice using acrylic powder, nail forms, and nail tip extensions. Colored ombre nails can feature several colors that differ from one nail to the next. Or acrylics may be clear, for instance, when using clear nail tips underneath the acrylic powder. Traditionally, acrylics without colored polish would appear pinkish or opaque. Today, technicians are able to create stunning ombre nails using clear acrylics. The trick to making clear colored ombre nails stand out is by using one primary color to create the ombre effect. The nail technician uses a special type of polish to create that cool, transparent style.
Ombre Nails Purple
Achieve grape-ness with these purple ombre nails! Offering a classy, nude paired with a delicate violet shade of purple, these nails are subtle but make a statement without going over-the-top. If you want to nail your own ombre purple nails, you’ll need the perfect shade of purple to get it right. You can also use more than one shade of purple for this look, too, if you didn’t want to opt for a high contrast look. Simply choose a very light shade of lilac and pair with a deeper plum hue for a totally perfect purple look
Some of our favorite shades of violet polishes for purple ombre nails include:
- For lighter hued looks: Essie Nail Polish Glossy Shine in Lilacism
- For moody, deep looks: OPI Nature Strong in Eco-Maniac
- For glitter lovers: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color in Purple Prism
- For gel nails enthusiasts: SensatioNail Gel Nail Polish in Mauving on Up
Nails Ombre Red
Red ombre nails are a bit less versatile in their style compared to the other ombre nails we’ve mentioned on this list. It’s common to pair red ombre nails with a dark color like black. A red ombre aesthetic over clear nail extensions is popular too. You might also notice red and white ombre nails, like black on red, white on red has a nice, dramatic contrast. The problem is that white and red ombre nails may feel a bit like Christmas, even in the middle of July. On the other end, red polish on a white base may conjure up images of Halloween. Red ombre nails are interesting, so if you felt up to the challenge, what kind of red ombre nail style would you create?
Short Ombre Nails
Where there’s a will, there’s a hack. Hacks are like bargain shopping. You’ll probably find a hidden gem or two, but you have to sift through mounds of polyester first. But we’re talking about nail hacks here, short ombre nails, specifically. Whether you prefer short nails or can’t maintain natural length, you still can ombre with the best of them. One trick to creating the illusion of length on short nails is using a color that’s one shade lighter than your skin tone. Also, stick to an almond shape and add a small detail, like a thin horizontal line at the tip to draw the eyes down to the longest part of the nail creating the illusion of longer nails.
To add even more length to short nails, paint a thin vertical line down the center of the nail. The idea is akin to wearing vertical stripes to add length to a short waist.
Nude Ombre Nails
Nude is simply natural. It’s a design highlighting your natural skin tone, bare nails, or natural nails. Nude ombre nails aren’t any particular shade or color, except they often highlight the shade that is your particular natural expression.
Light Brown Ombre Nails
Light brown or mocha-colored nails are a trend from the 90’s, making a comeback in recent years. Some are of the opinion that brown is the new black. The reality is there’s no competition between the classic colors, and you can in fact wear them together to your heart’s desire. The image above can be considered an ombre 90s to the angled design coming up from the tip. The distinction between the two colors is obvious. But looking at the nails from a distance makes that separation less apparent because of the way the darker shade angles upward. The colors appear blended.
Good Ombre Colors For Nails
Rules are made to be broken, right? All philosophical debates aside, most of us can agree that when it comes to ombre nails and creativity, ultimately, rules don’t exist. Ultimately.
But before that, design theories and color principles can help establish basic design elements and then help you build upon them. Take a look below to learn how color theory can be applied to ombre nails.
|Color Scheme||What It Means||Example Colors||How to Use for Ombre Nails|
|Complimentary||Opposite colors on the color wheel.||
||Most effectively used as an accent color or for creating high contrast, bold styles.|
|Analogous||Any three consecutive colors that share a color.||
||Soothing and subdued colors. Think of analogous colors as monochromatic with a bit more saturation.|
|Triad||A triad of three balanced colors that form a triangle on the color wheel.||
||Harmonious and contrasting colors that pop. These are great to use for bold ombre designs as well as additional striking details.|
Where To Get Ombre Nails
The short answer is that you can get ombre nails at the nail salon. But you might already know that and want to know if ombre nails are available anywhere else. They are!
But just in case you plan to find a nail salon to do your ombre nails manicure, consider the following:
- Bring images of your desired ombre nails.
- Know whether you want gel extensions, acrylics, lacquer, dip, or gel polish.
- Do you want to add length? Consider nail tips or extensions.
- What nail shape would look best with your design? Do you want coffin-shaped ombre nails, stilettos, or your own natural nails?
- Consider bringing your own tools to the salon to ensure tools are well sterilized.
- Finally, if you want perfectly airbrushed ombre nails, consider taking a trip to the salon unless you have the airbrush gun for it, the skills to use it, or plan to purchase it.
The more you know about the nails you want, the less you’ll need to figure out on the spot at the salon.
Now, if you don’t feel like going through the trouble of visiting a salon, you can DIY.
You can find everything, at least most of what you need for creating beautiful ombre nails at:
- The grocery store
- A nail and beauty supply shop
- Visit a craft store
You might still need to decide whether you want gel or traditional lacquer if you’re shopping for the right items. For gel nails, you’ll need a UV light to cure the polish. If you don’t have an airbrush gun, you can use a sponge or brush to create an ombre design. Find nail kits that contain everything on Amazon, or go to a beauty supply store so you can ask questions in person.
Finally, if you want ombre nails like right now, grab your glitter polish and a top coat if you’d like. Get fast, simple, and elegant glitter ombre nails now.
- Add a thin layer of polish starting from the cuticle, going down, and tapering off in the middle of the nail bed.
- Repeat as necessary, so the glitter is thicker near the cuticle and thinner as it moves out.
- Add a clear protective top coat to seal it in.
It truly doesn’t get much easier than that.
How To Do Ombre Nails At Home
Ombre nails are a great way to add a little flair to your manicure. They’re easy to do at home, and they look amazing! The technique can be used for both natural nails and acrylic nails.
Here’s our guide on how to do ombre nails at home.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’re going to need to get your own perfect set of ombre nails at home:
- White or clear polish for a base coat, depending on your color scheme
- 2-3 different colors of polish
- Makeup or household sponge cut into a small size
- Clear, protective top coat
- Cotton swabs (or nail design brushes)
- Nail polish remover
Steps to DIY Ombre Nails at Home
Now that you have all the tools and supplies ready for your ombre nails look, it’s time to get painting.
- Paint a layer of white polish on each nail.
- Paint a stripe of color on the sponge, each color side by side, ensuring they touch.
- Press the sponge onto the middle of your nail bed.
- Repeat as necessary to get a nice blended effect. Add the top coat and let it dry.
- Use the paper towels and polish remover to remove any polish from the skin.
There's nothing worse than a smudged nail look, especially after all your hard work! Remember to let coats of polish dry between applications to avoid this messy outcome.
How much do Ombre nails cost?
A standard set of ombre nails can cost you around $35 or $45, depending on where you live.
How long do Ombre nails take to do?
A nail salon will have you in and out the door with your new set of ombre nails in under 2 hours. However, if you plan on going the DIY route, and it’s your first time, it could take longer.
How long do Ombre nails last?
This can depend on a few factors such as the type of polish you use, and of course what you do with your hands. Plan on your ombre nails lasting at least a week or so, or possibly longer if you go with gel or acrylic nails.
Also try to limit working with your hands, such as washing dishes or other activities that will wear down those beautiful claws faster.
Nail Your Ombre Look
If you want ombre nails, you’ll have to decide what kind of ombre design you want, and this guide is aimed to help you do just that. Will you choose between a simple two-toned ombre design, tri-colored ombre nails, or classic french ombre nails? Like other forms of art, there’s more than one way to ombre!