Thanks for all the support and encouragement, folks. Here’s my tutorial for the matte gradient/gold splatter nails– accept no substitutions!
You will need: at least two colors of nail polish (more if you want to do each nail a different color like I did), a metallic/chrome polish, a regular top coat, a matte top coat, a wedge-shaped makeup sponge, scotch tape, and a straw cut down to 2-3 inches in length.
1. Start by painting your nail with the lighter of your two colors (this is two coats of OPI My Dogsled Is a Hybrid). Tape around the edges of your nails to make clean-up easier.
2. Take your makeup sponge and paint a few stripes each of your base color and the other color in your gradient (here, Zoya Shawn). I usually snip my sponges in half first to save on supplies.
3. While the polish is still wet, dab it over your nail. The first coat is usually pretty patchy, but if you repeat a few times with more polish it will build in opacity. Move the sponge very slightly up and down as you pat it on your nail, to help blend the colors.
4. Once you have a gradient you’re happy with, clean up around the edges with nail polish remover and a brush or q-tip. Then seal it in with your regular topcoat (I’m using Seche Vite). You can skip the regular topcoat if you want, but it helps it dry faster and gives the nail a nice, smooth surface.
5. Once the regular topcoat is dry, add a layer of matte top coat over it (I’m using Essie Matte About You).
6. Now for the splatter part. This is really messy, so I recommend taping your nail again and also laying down some paper towels or old newspapers on your work space first. Then open your metallic polish (this is Sally Hanson Liquid Gold) and dip your straw in the bottle.
7. Take the straw out, aim the polish-clogged tip at your nail, and blow through the other end. If your straw is closer to the nail you’ll get bigger drips like you see here, and if it’s further away you’ll get more of a fine spray.
8. Remove the tape and clean up any stray gold. Do not add topcoat, unless you want to lose the contrast between the matte background and the shiny metallic splatter.