How to Apply Nail Polish

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While we all may think we know the basics of applying nail polish, there are plenty of tips and tricks on how to apply it in a way to achieve professional looking results in the comfort of your own home. You will no longer have to pay for an expensive manicure. Instead, just use a little time, practice and dedication to get beautiful results every time you apply your own nail polish!

Before you begin applying nail polish, you will need a few basic tools to complete your self-manicure. Make sure that you have in front of you nail polish and nail polish remover, just in case you make a mistake. You will also want to have a cuticle stick, an emery board, a cotton balls, cuticle oil, hand and nail moisturizers, and a cuticle trimmer. These tools will help you apply nail polish beautifully each time.

Set aside some time when you decide to paint your nails. Try not to answer the phone or touch too many things while your nails are drying. If you follow these steps and allow your nail polish to set and dry properly, your manicure will last a lot longer.


Before applying a new coat of nail polish, be sure to remove all old nail polish completely. Even if you cannot see it because it may have worn off, do a quick once over with some nail polish remove to make sure you have removed all remnants. Your manicure will not come out nicely if you are covering old nail polish with new nail polish. The nail polish remover that you choose should ideally be acetone and alcohol free as to not dry out your nails. Dry nails make nail polish chip more easily.

After you have removed all the old nail polish, it is time for cuticle oil. Brush the cuticle oil onto your cuticles and then massage it in. Massaging the cuticle oil in ensures that they receive as much moisture as possible. It also stimulates nail growth by increasing blood flow to the fingertip. If you do not have any cuticle oil, olive oil (or any edible oil) is a good alternative. Leave the oil on as you file the nails, to soften them and make it easier.

Filing your nails is a good way to shape your fingernails. Always be sure to file in one direction to prevent jagged and flaky edges. The shape you should aim for should be your nail's natural shape. Some have rounded nails naturally while others have squared nails.


After you have applied the cuticle oil and filed your nails, give your hands a wash. This removes any residue from the nail polish remover as well as dust from the filing. Clean hands ensure that your nail polish will come out smooth and beautiful.

Once your hands are washed it is time to clean up your cuticles. Start by soaking your fingertips in warm water for about 10-15 minutes. This will soften the skin of you cuticles. If you do not want to cut your cuticles, you can simply push them back or use chemical cuticle remover. While you are cleaning up your cuticles, take a moment to get rid of any hang nails as well. Carefully trim them off with your cuticle cutter or nail scissors. If there is any oil left on your hands, give your hands another wash and make sure they are completely dry before you apply nail polish.

When you are ready to paint your nails, give the nail polish a good shake and open it up. You should always wipe the brush on the lip of the bottle to make sure that there is not too much. Instead of one single thick layer of nail polish, do several thinner coats. The layers of thin coats will last longer than one thick coat.

As you paint your nails, make sure to leave your hand as flat as possible. You should be able to paint the entire nail in about 3 strokes, starting in the center and completing each side. Be sure not to paint your skin or cuticles. Allow the first layer to dry completely before applying the next layer of nail polish.

After you have applied two or three coats of nail polish you may find that as hard as you tried, you still have a little polish on the skin around your nails. This can be easily removed with a cotton swab or wrap a small piece of cotton wool. Dip into nail polish remover and carefully wipe around your finger nail removing polish from your skin. Just be careful not to bump your freshly painted fingernail!




Suzanne Bradley is a freelance writer who writes about fashion and beauty, often focusing on a specific product such as nail polish.

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