Confession: Up until a few months ago, I couldn’t paint my own nails. In the past, every time I tried to paint my nails at my desk, I always ended up with an embarrassing, sloppy mess. I thoughtlessly dished out up to $20 for a salon manicure, which meant I either had to save on food or skimp on polish. With a couple of tips and a bunch of secret weapons, it’s actually pretty easy to achieve a salon-worthy manicure right from your home.
Protect your natural nail with a base coat, like CND Ridge Out ($8), so the color doesn’t stain your nails. Base coats are not only a smooth canvas, but are also adhesive, so polish has something to stick to. This is particularly important with dark polish.
Warm your nail polish by rubbing it between your palms before use to prevent bubbles—but don’t shake the bottle, which will only exacerbate the problem.
Take your time and apply two thin layers of polish, instead of one thick layer. If your polish has gotten super goopy, add a few drops of Seche Restore Thinner ($9). Or, if in a pinch, add a few drops of nail polish remover to salvage the last drops of your favorite nail color.
Show your hands some love—moisturize hands and cuticles daily.