Ombre shading, day 19’s theme in the Oh Mon Dieu nail art challenge, is often confused with its cousin, gradient shading. And for good reason, as both techniques involve gradually building up a colour (or colours), blending each shade into the next as seamlessly as possible. Both can also be achieved through a wide range of nail art techniques, from sponge painting to brushwork to glitter placement.
Where ombre shading deviates from its sister-technique, though, is in colour palette. Gradient shading can utilize any number of colours, so long as you can find a way to make one blend into the next without creating a giant, muddy mess, whereas ombre shading seeks to take one single colour through the full spectrum, from light to dark and maybe a couple of stops in between. Think that tie dyed linen maxi-dress your weirdo hippie aunt wears that starts off baby blue at the top and then moves through sky blue and cerulean at her waist before finishing off navy blue at her ankles. That’s ombre shading.
While ombre shading is not strictly limited to the gradient technique (a manicure in which you go from, say, eggplant on your thumb to pale lilac on your pinkie would also be considered ombre shading), I find it to be the best technique for blending two tonally similar colours, particularly when they are as close as the two polishes I chose for this manicure, Essence’s rose-hued Time for Romance and Essie’s Lux Effects glitter topper in A Cut Above. Technically speaking, there’s not much to this megawatt mani but for the delicate gradi-ombre colour change, a foregone conclusion when I realized I had a clear glitter topper that matched the shimmer in the base polish very nearly perfectly in both texture and colour – just a tone or two off, which was of course exactly what the challenge theme was asking of me. As always, maximum impact for minimal effort? Sign me up!