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A Quick & Easy Gradation Manicure with Butter London Stroppy

By on July 16, 2010
in butter LONDON, CND, Nail Art, Purple, Teal
butter-london-Stroppy-jelly-bottle Remember way back in February 2009 when I had a CalGel Gradation Manicure done at Sakura in NYC?  If you’re not familiar, a gradation manicure creates an ombre effect where the polish fades down the nail.  I wore a version with a purple tip that faded into clear but you can also fade two colors together.

As much as I loved the look of my CalGel mani, the thought of spending two hours at the salon to get it done and another half hour or longer to remove it does not sound appealing.  There has to be an easier way.  An at-home method to get the look for less.  Enter butter LONDON Stroppy.

Let me back up a second.  Not long after my Sakura experience I spoke with Celebrity Manicurist Elle and we talked about gradations and how there is such a thing as Gradation Liquid but that it’s somewhat hard to obtain.  I believe unless you have an Asian hookup you’re S.O.L.  Anyway, Elle suggested I try DIYing a jelly polish to create the ombre effect I desired.  That by layering it and moving the starting point of each layer up the nail, I could get the same gradation look at home.

Fast forward to the present and have I tried Elle’s suggested method?  No.  Why?  I have no idea.  Either laziness or I just plain forgot about it.  Regardless, I was attempting to clean up the polish room before my trip to Vegas when I came across the butter LONDON Jelly polishes and inspiration struck.

On its own butter LONDON Stroppy is a sheer, red grape hue packed with red and blue micro-glitter.  Creative Director Nonie Creme specifically designed the Jelly line to be worn as either a sheer wash of color or built up for a more see-through candy look.  These aren’t the kind of jellies that will ever become opaque so, to me, they’re best used for layering.  What you see below is three coats.

butter london jelly stroppy

Yesterday, I still had on the CND Night Factory Duo and for the heck of it I layered butter LONDON Stroppy on top in the manner Elle suggested.  The result… a stunning gradation blending sparkly teal and glittery purple.  It’s a ridiculously gorgeous combination.  I actually like it so much, I decided to wear it to Vegas for Cosmoprof.


Get The Look: I started with a base of CND Urban Oasis with Teal Sparkle on top.  After that dried I layered Stroppy starting approximately 1/3 of the way up the nail from the cuticle.  I split the top 2/3 of my nail into four sections and those became the starting points for each layer of polish (see below).


With each additional layer the color intensifies so that by the time you get to the fourth coat, the tip is an intense purple.  As you apply, you will be able to see the starting points for each layer but don’t worry, once you add a top coat, they all blend together.

Application Tip: Use thin coats.  Because you are putting at least six layers of polish, plus base and top coat, you want to use extremely thin coats so that your polish dries thoroughly and doesn’t bubble.

The butter LONDON Jelly collection includes two other jelly finish polishes; Chuffed (tangerine) and Twee (raspberry tinged pink). I’m thinking Chuffed would look fantastic over yellow and that Twee would pair nicely with a glitzy purple like Zoya Mimi.  Of course any sheer jelly would work for this look so dig through your stashes and start layering.

The DIY Version: If shelling out for the Jellys isn’t in your budget or you’re just the crafty type, try mixing up your own version at home.  Blend your favorite shade into clear polish a little at a time, until you achieve a sheer wash of color.  Remember, the clear polish should be more predominant in the mix.

Test the polish after each addition, making sure to apply a few coats of color so you can see whether it’s buildable.  If the jelly is too sheer it won’t have enough impact.  If it becomes too opaque, thin it out with a bit more clear.  Think of this as a science experiment and have fun with it.  There is no “perfect” here so mix until you’re happy with the opacity.

The butter LONDON Jelly collection is on sale now at and  The polishes retail for $14/ea for a .4 fl oz bottle.

Let’s hear it Fanatics.  What do you think of my gradation manicure?  Are you into it?  Have any of you created a similar look using a jelly polish?  What are your favorite color combinations?

Disclosure: Product samples for this look were furnished by butter LONDON and CND. For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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There Are 71 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Kate says:

    Oh, also: this is a PERFECT look for a trip to Vegas! Have fun :)

  2. Kate says:

    Omg… amazingly beautiful!! I wish I could walk into a salon and ask a manicurist to do this for me without feeling like a demanding diva (which is how I would feel) but I just don’t have the skill/patience to recreate the look on my own.

  3. Georgia says:

    Amazing! Definitely recreating this in teal!

  4. Jen says:

    Must copy this! Gorgeous!

  5. Jenny says:

    That really looks amazing! Love it!

  6. smALtY says:

    The gradation mani is gorgeous. I must try it too!!

  7. DWJ says:

    Oh I loooove this! I might have to try this myself this weekend!

  8. Tiger says:

    That is SERIOUSLY hot.

  9. Sarah B. says:

    Oh purty layering!!!
    I adore Jellies, they have such depth!!

  10. Amy says:

    You can also created the ombre or gradation effect using polish on a makeup sponge. You can use different shades of the same hue or just vary the amount of pressure you use when pressing the color on.

  11. Nicole says:

    wow! that’s gorgeous! Im going to have to get those colors and try it out!

  12. Denise says:

    I really like this look! I have several sheer polishes that could stand in for the Butter Londons that would work. Thanks for this!

  13. sarajessica says:

    That looks awesome!
    When I do gradation nails I just use a sponge (cut-up kitchensponge works great) and put a drop of polish on a piece of plastic or something, dip the sponge and then stamp it on my nail until I’m satisfied with the result. Then I add a topcoat and done. :)

  14. Ariana says:

    this looks adorable! what a great idea :)

  15. Paz says:

    LOVE IT!!!! I may need to find both the Jelly and the teal!

  16. liz says:

    this is phenomenal!!

  17. Christine says:

    Wow! I love it, it is so “you”! Absolutely perfect for Vegas and Cosmoprof.

  18. Freshie says:

    LOVE this and now you’ve made me NEED the Jellies!

  19. Belle says:

    Oh wow I really want to try this at home. I’m not crazy about Butter London polishes but now I really want to try them with this jelly polish!

  20. jenny says:

    Oh, very nice. I don’t have those exact colors, but I’m definitely going to see what I have in my collection that I can layer now.

  21. Serena says:

    Wow, that looks awesome! =)

  22. Love it! Love both colours and the combo! Great tutorial!

  23. Liz says:

    How funny that you post this. I did one of these manis yesterday! Except, I made the gradient go side to side across my nails so it was more of an overall effect.

    See here

  24. Breanna says:

    Wow, that’s GORGEOUS. I’m trying it asap.

  25. Zara says:

    I love it! I will definitely have to try this.

  26. Lauren says:

    Speaking of Butter London… I ordered Marrow and Victoriana and I’m dying to see All Hail Mcqueen, but resisted. Sorry I’m totally off topic, but I hope you’ll swatch them at some point. ;)

  27. Debbie says:

    Love it! That is such a great look and very Vegas!

  28. Alexis says:

    Wow! I’m going to try this out today. I already have Stroppy but haven’t used it yet.

  29. Emma says:

    This looks amazing!

  30. Oh wow this is a stellar combo for this type of mani; it looks AWESOME! You did a really neat job :)

  31. I love it!! I would never have thought to use a jelly for a gradient!! Now I wish I had some awesome jellies!!

  32. Meika says:

    That is beautiful! Thanks for the tip in how to do s homemade jelly. Just in time for me to try this weekend. I’m thinking of Zoya’s Lola fading up to CG Flying Dragon.

  33. In says:

    Omg, I love the jelly!! By any chance, do you know of a dupe for it? I can’t get Butter London where I live :(

  34. rosemary says:

    awesome! must try!

  35. Line says:

    woow!! STUNNING! just incredible beautiful!

  36. In says:

    I ended up trying this with other polishes I have, but the final effect wasn’t as gorgeous as yours – the starting lines were still to obvious, maybe because my gradation polish wasn’t that sheer. It seems that I need to go shopping now LOL

  37. Susy says:

    This looks gorgeous!! I’ll have to try this sometime! :D

  38. Adrianne says:

    what a great idea! I am going to try the DIY version tonight!

  39. NinaraPoll says:

    That is GORGEOUS.
    And now I have something to try with those jellies I have stashed away because I have no idea what to do with them… thank you, thank you, thank you for this!

  40. Angelica says:

    I love that look! It’s beautiful.
    I think I must look for polishes to try that manicure out. Amazing!

  41. Susie says:

    Love it!! Going to dig through my polish drawer today and see what I can put together.

  42. zb says:

    That came out really great! I bet you’ll get a ton of compliments in Vegas.

  43. Mallory says:

    Hi. I check in on your blog every once in a while and happened to see this post. I decided to try a little experiment of my own with the few polishes I do have. I layered Sinful Colors All Mighty (#283) over Sinful Colors San Francisco (#941). It was a little tricky but didn’t turn out half bad since SC has a thin formula to begin with. Base coat, 2 coats San Francisco and only 3 layers of All Mighty since my nails are a bit shorter than yours. SC has a lot of jellys and glitters that would probably work really well for this effect. =]

  44. Jen says:

    That gradation mani is awesome! I love the colors! Great job :D

  45. Sarah says:

    It looks AMAZING

  46. kia says:

    the first thing i thought when i saw this: “this looks amazing.” i see how original that comment is ;) great job!

  47. lia says:

    so after I read this post I went off to try it myself and was moderately successful (I used OPI’s Jade is the New Black and Zoya’s Sparkle Gloss top coat)… some tips to those of you planning on trying this method:

    1. draw your first top layer carefully – while the lines for the rest of the layers did end up blending together seamlessly, the first one was pretty obvious… and pretty obvious when it was messed up.

    2. wrap your tips! even though i swear i dragged the top coat all the way to the top of my nail, there’s kinda a weird line on top where the base coat is showing through.

    have fun! i sure did! thanks for sharing your techniques/new insights, Michelle!

  48. Shiny! says:

    That is absolutely gorgeous!

  49. Laynie says:

    Absolutely breathtaking! That is so beautiful!

    I did a red-to-hot-pink gradient that I topped with a holographic top coat of sorts. I love it so much… I’ve really been feeling the gradients lately!

  50. Mischa says:

    I don’t think I’d have the patience to attempt the application but OMG it’s absolutely gorgeous! :o)

  51. Gena says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!! I’d love to try this but my (natural) nails aren’t long enough. Forgive me if this Q is stupid, but do you use a product to help your nails grow? This sounds impossible to me, but I’d love to get my hands on some if it actually IS possible.
    Please respond!–Gena in CA

    • Fran Goldberg says:

      Try Vitry. It is a French product with limited distribution here in the US. I got my bottle at Parkway Drugs in Glencoe, IL. It costs $20 but more than worth it. There is a website that sells the product. It grew out my nails in 10 days to the point I can wear pretty polish again. What you do is put one coat on for three days. Remove after the third day and do 2 more times. It can be used as a base coat but remember like all treatment coats polish will not last as long, may 3 to 4 days. I also like Trind which has similiar results.

  52. Sammy says:

    Yeah, I use the sponge method as mentioned by someone up there, but i use a makeup sponge! It works spectacular, you can Youtube it if you want a live tutorial, it’s super easy :) KlairedelysArt has a few and they’re great!

  53. Bee says:

    So glad I saw this post! I have never cared much for jellies, but this is a great way to wear them. Tried it at home and cannot stop staring at my nails!

  54. tricialee says:

    love it. this would be great with the zoya summer line Sparkles.

  55. NailtechToo says:

    Love your Graduation Mani!…Thanks for keeping your manicured fingers on the pulse of the nail industry and bringing it to the public. Love this site!…xoxo

  56. Jackie S. says:

    Awesome technique, I wonder if this would work for any “thin shimmer/glitter” polish??

  57. Morgie P says:

    Oh my goodness, that is such a beautiful effect! I have this sheer, sparkly blue SOPI that I never, ever use… maybe it’ll work in a similar manner over pink or teal?

  58. Kali says:

    Absolutely stunning! I will definitely have to try that soon! And I love the colours you used, too, purple and teal are two of my faves.

  59. Lana says:

    I tried this with layering OPI’s Wing It (not as sheer as a jelly, but sheer enough as long as the coats are thin) over China Glaze’s Grape Juice, and it looks terrific! I think both colors look better together than they do on their own. I’ve gotten lots of compliments, and I can’t stop staring at my nails.

  60. Lunuland says:

    This is so pretty–I tried it too! Look:

    I can’t wait to try with more colors!

  61. Steph says:

    GIRLS, I saw this in person and it is GORGEBALLS!!

  62. Kistenh says:

    I was so inspired by this I did one today with OPI Purple with a Purpose and then OPI Wing It. I think it looks pretty good!

  63. Gina says:

    I love gradation manicures, and yours is (naturally) gorgeous! Mine usually take twice as much time, because I end up going back and adding some sort of nail art, like dots of multi-colored glitter or something like that!!

  64. Ariana says:

    love love LOVE!! DEFINITELY will be trying this!

  65. Laura says:

    Hey there!

    I am having the most trouble finding the CND urban oasis/teal sparkle set! Anyone know of any place that it is available?


  66. Pook says:

    That’s amazing the way you do that with the layers! Very creative!