Spring’s biggest nail art trend is for anyone who’s ever stood, frozen, simply staring at a colorful wall of nail polish. Instead of wasting precious time trying to choose one color, the gradient manicure is the prettiest way to wear them all. And with artists trying the trend in rainbow colors and nudes, you can take it all the way from dramatically vibrant to soft and subtle.
The gradient manicure, as defined by Glamour U.K., uses two or more shades to create the illusion of a subtly shifting rainbow of colors. Picture a card of paint samples, only better, because it’s on your hands. Most versions we’ve seen use five different colors on each hand, creating a smooth ombre-like effect from pinky to thumb, but there are as many ways to wear this kind of manicure as there are fingers in this world, so consider this your excuse to create your own personal mani rainbow.
Some mani masters are sticking to a soft color palette, like Betina Goldstein‘s nude-inspired gradient. Goldstein created her look with Dior Vernis Gel Shine Long Wear Nail Lacquer in five nude shades: Muguet, Tralala, Lili, Incognito, and Palais Royal. The effect is soft and subtle, but thanks to the variety of colors used, she still manages to keep things interesting.
The trend has even made its way onto the runways. United Colors of Benetton sent models down the Milan Fashion Week catwalk this year with rainbow nails, using the classic ROYGBIV colors as inspiration for a manicure made up of five different bright shades. Gigi Hadid and celebrity nail artist Mei Kawajiri also embraced the rainbow gradient for a Euro-themed mani.
To create your own shifting-palette look at home, simply choose your five (or 10) polishes and get painting. The best part? The theme encompasses everything from Sally Hansen‘s bright new jelly bean-inspired collection to Essie’s serene slate, an Allure editor favorite with a palette of grays, cool blues, and deep purples.