21 Must-Know Tips About Painting Your Nails
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Paint Job1 of 22
By Carly Cardellino for Cosmopolitan
With these tips, you can nail any mani.
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Three's A Charm2 of 22
As you're painting your nails, it's best if you use three strokes to apply the polish. "First, you want to dip the brush into the bottle and get a decent-size bead of polish at the edge of your brush," nail pro Simcha Whitehill says. "You want the polish to do the majority of the work and spread out as it's placed on the nail—the brush is there to just guide the dot of polish into place. Starting at the base of your nail, stroke the brush to the left, to the right, and then down the center." Voila!
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Touch Base3 of 22
Always use base coat. "It might take you some extra time, but it gives the colored polish something to adhere to, making your manicure last a couple of extra days longer, and it prevents staining on your nails from pigmented paint," Whitehill explains.
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Come Clean4 of 22
Repurpose your old lip brush to help tidy up the edges of your nail. We've all colored outside of the lines, but when you do it with nail polish, you want to be precise in your cleanup technique. Whitehill suggests dipping an old lip brush into nail polish remover and swiping it around your nail bed to clean up the edges.
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White Now5 of 22
Find the right white. White nail polish couldn't be cooler than it is right now—it's a super-mod, must-wear shade. But when you're choosing a bottle, you want to make sure the formula is thick and creamy, so that it doesn't go on too sheer or streaky. To make sure it's opaque, take the brush and wipe it against the inside of the top of the bottle; if the polish is sheer against the inside of the bottle, it's not pigmented enough. One to try: Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Eastern Light.
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Dry Spell6 of 22
Stay away from quick-dry nail polish. It's typically dehydrating and can dry out your nails.
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Oil Up7 of 22
Swipe on cuticle oil religiously. "An instant way to look like you've just stepped out of the salon is to use cuticle oil," Whitehill says. "It instantly hydrates them. Then, apply it over your entire nail after you've painted your nails—if you accidentally hit them against something, the oil offers some slip, so they're less likely to nick."
Get Wet8 of 22
Hold your hands under cold water post-paint job. Holding your hands under cold water or dipping your fingertips into ice water for a bit helps them dry faster.
Neon Haze9 of 22
Make your neon polish pop. To get your neon paint to be even brighter, apply a white or an opaque nude shade as your first coat of polish. Neons tend to be sheer, so this helps make them seem thicker.
Layer Up10 of 22
Apply thin, not thick coats of polish. Anytime you're painting your nails, to get your polish to dry faster, apply three thin coats compared to one or two gloppy layers, because they'll never dry.
Cool Off11 of 22
Keep your paint in a cool, dry, dark place a.k.a. your fridge. Storing your nail polish in the refrigerator helps the formula to last longer, especially since heat and sunlight can alter the thickness and color.
Thin Ice12 of 22
Thin out too-thick nail polish with thinner. "You can pick up nail polish thinner at your local beauty store—a few drops added to your polish that's too thick is all you need," she says.
Roll With It13 of 22
Never shake your nail polish. "Instead, roll it back back and forth between your two hands, holding the polish vertically," Whitehill notes. "This ensures there will be no air bubbles in the lacquer or on your nails as you paint it on."
Cut It Out14 of 22
Never cut your cuticles. It's a no-no. Here's why.
Hang Ten15 of 22
Only bust out the nippers when you have a hangnail. This is the only time you should be reaching for the cuticle nippers. "Hangnails are inevitable, even if you use moisturizer often, and unfortunately the only way to get rid of them is to trim them away," she says.
File This16 of 22
Never saw your nails back and forth when you file them. "Always stroke the file in one direction, otherwise it will tear the tip of your nail and leave it jagged," Whitehill explains. "Filing them incorrectly can also lead to splitting, peeling, and breaking."
Hot Stuff17 of 22
Stay away from hot water. "Don't do your nails and then do the dishes or hop into the shower," Whitehill says. "Hot water is nail polish's natural-born enemy—it causes the nail bed to expand, forcing the polish to expand with it, typically causing it to crack in the process."
Wipe Off18 of 22
Use non-acetone nail polish remover whenever possible. "Non-acetone isn't as drying to the nail, so if you have a problem with peeling or dry nails, you'll want to use this formula, especially if you're trying to strengthen your nails," she says.
All That Glitters19 of 22
Go for glitter. Glitter polish or polish that's shimmery lasts longer on your nails than regular formulas.
Cotton On20 of 22
Use a cotton ball to help remove your glitter polish. Glitter polish is incredibly difficult to get off of your nail. For that reason, Whitehill suggests soaking a cotton ball in acetone remover, forming the cotton ball over each nail, and then letting it sit on your fingertips for a few minutes. "Then, gently apply some pressure and wipe the polish off with the cotton ball—the glitter should slip right off with it."
Free & Clear21 of 22
Always use three-free polish. Formulas labeled as such are free of formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP)—ingredients that can raise health concerns if you're exposed to them over a prolonged period of time. They're also safer and healthier to be using over the course of your life, says Whitehill. Try brands like Essie, Butter London, and Deborah Lippmann, to name a few.
On Top22 of 22
Always use a top coat. And when you apply it, always swipe the very tip of your nail. That way when you're typing and hitting your tips against the keys constantly, you'll be less likely to get chips.