How many times have you tried to perfect the art of painting your own nails? You’re watching a YouTube tutorial when inspiration strikes and despite your amateur status, out come those bottles of polish. Seriously. We all do it. Even if you rely on salon beauticians 90% of the time (Does anyone still do that in the 21st-century?), you’ve got to admit the DIY itch is undeniable. After all, it can’t be that hard to apply a few artsy coats of polish from home, right? Turns out, it does take skill to be a beauty guru, and I’m not just talking about social media savvy. There are hidden tips you don’t know about holding you back from being the at-home beautician you always wanted. Here are some easy pointers to help you craft a professional-grade nail look from your bedroom beauty counter.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
Don’t stress out about how to apply your nail polish thoroughly. With the right technique, it’s a very simple process. Get a bead of polish on the edge of your brush and make three strokes. One to the left, one to the right, and one down the center. Easy.
BASE COATS MATTER
It might seem like applying a base coat is one step too many, but consider the benefits. Your nail art will shine brighter and last longer if the polish has something to adhere to. That’s worth a few extra minutes, don’t you think?
KEEP YOUR EDGES TIDY
When it comes to nail art, coloring inside the lines is as important as it was back in kindergarten. Once you’ve finished applying your polish, dip an old lip brush in nail polish remover to tidy up your look.
DON’T SETTLE FOR QUICK-DRY
Fast-fix products like quick-drying polish are terrible for your nails. Don’t let your at-home manicure result in dehydrated cuticles and flaky skin. Buy the good stuff. You deserve it.
USE CUTICLE OIL
Few things will make your nails look as professionally done-up as a drop of cuticle oil. Dab some on your skin to keep it fresh and moisturized. When you’re done, apply more on all your nails to guard against nicks as you go about the day.
RINSE WITH COLD WATER
Wary of quick-drying polish but still want your nails to set at lightning speed? Stick them under cold water post-paint job. The icy cool will help them dry rock solid in only a minute.
THIN IS BETTER
When it comes to your nail polish, less really is more. Three thin coats will serve you far better than two or even one gloppy layer of product. Resist the urge to go heavy. It’s the professional way.
STORE PRODUCT IN THE FRIDGE
It’s a super strange hack but the results more than speak for themselves. Keeping your polish in the refrigerator will help each formula retain its original thickness and color. If you’re painting nails at home to save money, any technique to help product last longer is well worth it.
NOT SHAKEN, STIRRED
Clearly, the perfect recipe for a martini does not apply to your nail polish. Shaking a bottle of lacquer will produce pesky air bubbles that interrupt your beauty routine. To get ready bubble-free, just roll the bottle back and forth between your hands a few times before digging in.
DON’T CUT YOUR CUTICLES
Even expert manicurists are instructed never to do this. It opens the flood gates for dozens of bacteria and fungus to throw a party infecting your cuticles. Steer clear at all costs. Absolutely a no-no.
YOUR FILE IS NOT A SAW
As cool as it looks when ladies rub away with their files, you shouldn’t be filing back and forth so rigorously. Instead, stroke in one direction with a light touch. We’re dealing with nails here, not hefty tree trunks.
ALWAYS TOP THINGS OFF
Swipe the very tip of your nail with a base coat and polish with every new look. It will keep your polish from chipping as you’re typing away at the keyboard. Funny how a little dab can go such a long way.
Now you’re armed with the secrets to an excellent at-home manicure. Obviously, you can nail professional-grade nails without a trip to the salon. Whether it’s solid pink nails for a 90s rave or tri-colored patterns on girls’ night, these tips will save you from amateur embarrassment.
— Scarlett Price