Gradient vs. Ombre: What’s the Difference? ~ NEW QUIZ ~ Amazon Prime + Awesome Nail Deals = :)

Good morning, guys! Today’s post will be a little different than usual Mondays. We’re going to be talking about the difference between a gradient and an ombre. These terms can get confusing when you first begin nail art. But, don’t worry! You’ll learn all about it right now!

Okay, so let’s start with what gradients and ombres are: they are, in general, colors that are usually applied to the nail with a makeup sponge [or via other various methods] so that they blend and transition into each other, creating a sort-of-tie-die effect. There are so many ways to switch up gradients/ombres, get creative, and make them new and fun–they’re a great thing to start with if you’re just getting into nail art!

Let’s get into it now… and start with the definition of “gradient”!

“an increase or decrease in the magnitude of a property (e.g., temperature, pressure, or concentration) observed in passing from one point or moment to another.”


This definition is the one that applies to physics and is one of the formal definitions. The next definition is one for “color gradient”.

“In computer graphics, a color gradient (sometimes called a color ramp or color progression) specifies a range of position-dependent colors, usually used to fill a region. For example, many window managers allow the screen background to be specified as a gradient.”


This definition did come from Wikipedia, however, I know it to be correct. This is the more informal definition of a modern-day gradient. Gradient popularity actually increased when programs such as Photoshop were introduced to the world, but the word “gradient” blended “grade” and “salient”, both English words, has existed since the mid 19th century. One more definition for a gradient that applies to us is this next one:

Gradation in art is a visual technique of gradually transitioning from one colour hue to another, or from one shade to another, or one texture to another. Space, distance, atmosphere, volume, and curved or rounded forms are some of the visual effects created with gradation.”


Again, this is from Wiki, but this one is an art term and is correct as well. I really like this definition, as I think it’s the one that best describes what it is in nail art. Which definition is your favorite? Comment below! Okay, so now, here are some gradient nail designs that I’ve created so you can see:

This one is a watercolor gradient with several colors bleeding into each other.

This one is a re-creation of a sunset gradient by @c_c_nails410 on Instagram.

This one is an older sunset/midday gradient that I created last year.

Now you’ve learned about gradients, so let’s talk about ombres now. Here’s the formal and only, as far as I know, definition:

“having tones of color that shade into each other, graduating from light to dark.”


Also, “ombre” is different than the “ombre” with an accent over the e–that one is the one for the color definition. The word “ombre” comes from the French word “omber” which means “to shade”. Now, let’s get down to it.

The difference between a gradient and an ombre is:

“gradients are different colors that blend into each other, getting lighter and darker in different places; ombres are colors from THE SAME COLOR FAMILY that go from light to dark in their shades.”


Does that make sense? So, a gradient would be choosing purple, orange, and blue–those are different colors. An ombre would be choosing light pink, medium pink, and dark pink–those are different shades in the same color family. Here are some examples of ombres:

Pink ombre from

Blue ombre from

Purple ombre from

Gradients and ombres are so gorgeous and there are so many possibilities for making them unique and personal to your style. What do you prefer: gradient or ombre? I think I create gradients more often, but ombres are just so pretty. I think I would pick gradient. ☺ Comment below with your vote!

Okay, so now you’ve learned the difference between gradients and ombres. Think you’ve got your knowledge? Think you’re up for a challenge? Take the quiz below to check and see how much you learned in this blog post!

How’d you do? Share your results on Instagram with #threesixtynailsquiz to share your results with friends and followers!

One more thing before you go! Did you know that Prime Day on starts on July 11th? (This post is NOT sponsored by Well, I wanted to let you know about so FABULOUS things happening on there that you might just adore. First up, did you know that when you sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of Prime, you can select to receive a FREE luxury beauty box? Sign up and order your box by clicking the image below!

Also, Born Pretty Store–a well-known nail and beauty supply store based in China–has some AWESOME sales going on for Prime Day! Click the image below to check them out!

And finally, do you like to relax and listen to something like music or a book while you paint your nails? Music and Audible have got you covered! Click the images below to see the deals you can get on these two fab services this Prime Day!

Now that you’ve seen these special deals, you can see some more detail and general stuff going on this Prime Day and sign up for Prime with this link right here: Enjoy! 🙂

And that’s it for today’s longer post full of details about gradients, ombres, quizzes, nail art, and Prime Day! Would you like to see more posts like this? Comment below!

Subscribe to the blog HERE, sign up for Nail Buzz alerts HERE, browse the Nail Shop HERE, follow @threesixtynails on Instagram HERE, use #threesixtynails and #threesixtynailsNBfeature on Instagram, learn more about NB Features HERE, visit the Contact and Services pages HERE and HERE, have some fun with Nail LOL and Quizzes HERE and HERE, and explore the site. Also, confused about some terms in this post? Check out Nail Lingo, your online nail-world dictionary, HERE. Have a polished rest of your day! 🙂

– Cali, host of threesixtynails

Cali G.

I'm a nail artist, positivity/wellness enthusiast, and perpetual creative. I've been sharing nails and good vibes here in my corner of the Internet since 2017. Follow me @threesixtynails on social and check the Contact page if you want to get in touch. Have a polished rest of your day! ✨


  1. AWESOME POST!!! I really enjoyed the lesson and had FUN taking the quiz…85/102!!!

    1. threesixtynailshost

      Thank you so much, Joe! I’m so glad! Great job! 🙂

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