So you want to do a gradient or water marble nails but can't be bothered with the amount of clean up? Well here is a very easy way to over come the problem.
Get some PVA Glue (wood glue, white glue, school glue, Elmer's glue) in a cleaned out polish bottle and paint it around the cuticles:
Wait for it to dry and go clear like this:
And then go on to do the messy nail art you wanted to do:
Once done simply peel off the glue:
Then if you need to you can go ahead and do a simple clean up around the cuticle, you can see the amount of clean up you will have avoided by the mess on the glue which you have peeled off.
You can see more about these nails here if you like.