There are many ways to achieve gradient nails, most methods you can find on youtube. I watched several of these youtube videos (long ago, so I can't remember which ones exactly) and just did what I felt would work best.
I've seen the makeup sponge applicator (the ones that come with eyeshadow palettes), the gradual layering of sheer polishes, and the sponge wedge, but I thought the most successful technique would be the sponge wedge applicator. It seemed the most hassle-free.
Illusrated in the photo below, I took a regular makeup sponge wedge and cut it in half. The width of the wedge was much wider than my actual nail, so I thought cutting it would minimize polish getting all over my skin.
*Tip: Save the other half- either for another day when you'll want to do gradient nail art, or, if you find that you're having difficult blending the lines later, use it go back and fix mistakes.
Lastly, for the prepping steps, I recommend putting tape (just regular 'ol scotch tape) around your cuticles to prevent getting polish everywhere. It won't eliminate the mess, but it will minimize it.
Next step, which I didn't photograph, I painted white on all my nails. I painted 2 coats of China Glaze "White on White. Trust me, don't skip this step. Your gradient colors will show up so, so much better with the white base.
I'll spare you the bulk of the details of my disastorous story, but I initially attempted to do this with 3 green polishes instead of 1 white and 2 green as you can see below. The green I picked to be the lightest ended up showing up darker than the middle green. So I had to deal with trying to go over the top with white and blending that out. I was close to just quitting on these nails altogether, but I have been wanting to do gradient nails for so long, I didn't want to turn back.
But anyway, I did the popular method of painting stripes on the sponge wedge (as illustrated below) and just sponging that onto my nails (that were already painted white). You will need to reapply polish on the wedge as you go.
The polishes I used were China Glaze "White on White," China Glaze "Re-fresh Mint," and Essie "Mojito Madness."
*Tip: When you're sponging the polish on the nail, don't hesitate to do a -slight- up and down motion. If you just press the sponge onto your nail and roll it back and forth, the lines with be much more blunt. Move the sponge up and down a little and it'll help fade that line a lot. I hope that makes sense.
Add a little top coat...
My nails turned out a little messier than I would have preferred, but I'm still happy with the result.
Even though there are so many gradient nail tutorials out there, I hope I was still able to inspire/help somewhat.
Have a great day! And look out for another St. Patty's inspired nail post.