Getty Images 7. Use white polish as a primer.

If you really want a bright color to pop, manicurist Geraldine Holford suggests using a white polish first. Try applying two coats of OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow as a base, and then layer neon polish over the top for the most eye-catching nails. (These are our favorite neons of the moment, in case you’re interested.)

8. If you’re in a rush, pick a sheer shade.

“If you’re running out the door, choose a sheer because it’s dummy-proof,” says Rita Remark, Essie global lead educator. “Just one coat works to give your nails new life.” (May we suggest the ever-popular Ballet Slippers? Queen Elizabeth is a fan; just saying.) But if you’re going with full-on color, make sure to stick to the basics: a base, two coats of polish, and a topcoat. Otherwise, you’re opening your quick job to ever faster chips and peels.

9. Treat your nail care like skin care.

Ever wonder how those women with long almond nails keep them from breaking? “It requires constant care and TLC,” says Remark. That obviously sounds like a lot of work, but think of it like this: “During your nighttime routine, add a step to take care of your nails. So when you’re done with your face, put on cuticle oil after that.” It helps to keep a bottle of it right next to your bed.

Essie10. Simple nails often make the biggest impact.

Talk to any pro artist and they’ll agree: You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to make a statement. Naomi Gonzalez-Longstaff loves creamy pastels, especially soft pinks; Rose Velez-Miggins likes a mixture of pale shades and earthy tones that flatter all different skin tones; and Choi is all about androgynous colors (think greige and browns) with a squoval (squarish oval) tip. (See the best versions of all of them here.)

11. An edgier look is as easy as applying a topcoat.

“I love applying a matte topcoat to my designs lately,” says nail artist Betina Goldstein, who’s Insta-famous for her minimal—but stunning—take on nail art. “It adds a bit of edge and sophistication to any minimal design or polish. A simple black dot on a nail with a matte topcoat transforms what could be childish into a more chic look.”

12. Don’t sleep on gems or crystals.

Can’t paint your nails? Don’t bother. Slick on a shiny topcoat like Sally Hansen’s Diamond Strength or a sheet nude like Chanel Ballerina, then use a silicone dotting tool or tweezers to place tiny embellishments on your nails. “Adding small pearls, gems, or accents is very easy, and you do not need to be very savvy with the paint brush,” says Goldstein. She recommends also using nail glue first to secure the stone, then capping it on top—along with a topcoat over that—to ensure it doesn’t get caught in your hair.

Betina Goldstein13. When in doubt, there are always press-ons.

Another option if you need to paint your nails in pinch: Skip the dry time and go straight for press-ons, like Kiss Muse Maker Fantasy Nails. “The prep is the key,” says Edwards. “You want to make sure your nails are free from oil. So buff your nail, get rid of the shine, and push back your cuticles. If you have even the smallest amount of cuticle over your nails, it’ll continue to grow and can pop off the nail.”

For more tips on how to paint your nails at home, check out:
-You’re Putting On Glitter Nail Polish All Wrong
-The Best Fall Nail Polish Colors You’ll Want to Instagram the Hell Out Of
-17 Mistakes You’re Making When Painting Your Nails

Getting a good manicure at home takes a lot of practice and skill (and frankly a level of coordination I just can’t achieve). Even if you’re a DIY pro, at-home manicures never seems to last as long as when the actual pros do it. The simple solution would be to go to the nail salon, but that’s not always time or cost efficient. I decided to talk to six professional manicurists to get their insider tips for a better at-home mani.

It turns out I was committing a few common faux pas that shorten the lifespan of my mani. And apparently there are a lot of BS tips out there (why am I not surprised…). For example, that trick where you dunk your freshly-painted nails in ice water to quick dry—false. Now, I’m wondering what else I have been doing wrong.

Here are nine ways to keep your nails looking perfect when you DIY your manicure, according to the nail experts.

1. Select the right shape.

Despite all the trendy shapes (like the coffin or the stiletto), it turns out that rounded nails are your best bet to avoid rips and snagging. “Due to it’s smooth shape, it’s less likely to catch on things,” says Essie’s global lead educator Rita Remark. “If you prefer to wear your nails square, just make sure to round the edges on either side of the nail.”

2. Make sure to buff the edge of your nails.

Once you land on the final shape, it’s important to make sure nothing is left hanging on the edge. “When nails are filed quite a bit, it’s important to use a nail buffer to get all remaining nail debris out from under the nail and from the sides of the nail along the cuticle line,” says Carly Narva, a manicure enthusiast and the VP of merchandising at beauty retailer Violet Grey. Another pro tip: Make sure to file in one direction especially with the sides—this ensures you aren’t disturbing the fibers of the nails.

3. Prep your nails properly before you paint.

Most nail salons sit you to soak before pushing the cuticles and filing, but the pros say dry manis are more sanitary and help your polish last longer. Remark says soaking in water causes the nail to expand. Then when it dries the nail contracts, causing your polish to chip. Instead, she says, cleanse the nails with nail polish remover or alcohol before polishing.

Some salons will use vinegar for a pre-mani soak, but that’s also a no-go, according to editorial nail technician Honey, who explains that the acid in vinegar could make your nails brittle. “I use vinegar on feet to make sure there is no bacteria, but not usually on the hands. A dry manicure is best,” she says.

4. Don’t shake the nail polish bottle.

We’ve heard this tip time and time again, yet many of us continue to shake our nail polish when it’s separated, and then wonder why we don’t end up with a seamless manicure. “I prefer rolling the polish if I’m polishing nails immediately,” explains celebrity manicurist for Kiss products, Gina Edwards. Many bottles have a small metal ball inside that helps stir the product around. “Shaking creates bubbles in the polish and can be seen if you apply shortly after,” she says, adding that if you do shake, you should wait an hour before you polish.

Honey uses a roll-and-shake combo. “Some people say not to shake or roll because it makes bubbles in the polish, but I do a combination of the two at the start of a manicure,” she explains. “By the time I am ready to use the color, the bubbles have settled.”

5. Two thinner coats are better than one thick coat.

While it’s tempting to go for the gusto with one thick coat, don’t. Globs of polish just means longer drying time and a higher risk for smudging. “Thick coats are a no-go!” exclaims nail styling artist Gracie J. “Thin and even coats work best for a seamless look.”

How to Do Your Nails Like a Pro

Neat Nail Polish Remover

Use an old pill bottle as a quick nail polish remover! Place several cotton balls or an old make-up sponge inside and add a bit of nail polish remover. Then when you have to remove old polish, just dip your finger inside the pill container and twist.

How to Brighten Stained Nails

If dark nail polish has stained your fingernails, here’s a quick fix: Plop a denture-cleaning tablet into a glass of water and soak your nails for a couple of minutes. The stain will come right off.

Roll, Don’t Shake, Your Nail Polish

Did you know that shaking a bottle of nail polish isn’t the best way to properly mix it before applying? Shaking can cause air bubbles, which can be a pesky problem when you’re trying to paint your nails. Instead, roll the bottle between your palms, which will mix the polish without creating air bubbles.

DIY French Manicure Trick

If you’ve ever wanted to do your own French manicure at home, but had no clue how to get those perfect crescent shapes at the top of your nails, we’ve got an incredible tip for you! All you need is a Band-Aid wide enough to cover your nail. Stick the end of the Band-Aid on your nail, exposing just the amount you want to paint. Then apply the polish, and move the Band-Aid onto the next nail. (You may want to heat the Band-Aid with a hair dryer to make sure it peels off cleanly.) Now the only thing left to do is wait for your nails to dry—and show off your new French manicure!


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Remember a few years back, when droves of ostensibly stylish adult women—fueled by a wave of Japanese nail art mania—started showing up for work with tiny green palm trees or, say, lacquered re-creations of the Mona Lisa painted on their fingertips? And suddenly asking one’s manicurist for “a reverse glitter tip nail on a Minx gold base” or a miniature portrait of Sade circa the Promise years on your pinky seemed like a totally reasonable request?

I do. Because even at the height of the billion-dollar industry boom, I was stuck with the bitten microstubs of a diehard nail biter. When I finally quit last summer, I was determined to make up for lost time, burning my way through the color spectrum, from Chanel’s cult classic Peridot (discontinued but still available on eBay!) to Christian Louboutin’s Mula Lisa (the perfect Pop Art chartreuse!) and culminating this past December with Victoria Beckham’s shocking Judo Red for Nails Inc.

And then: Just as I was toying with the idea of moving on to full-fledged nail art in the form of a downsized evil eye (inspired by a friend’s Delfina Delettrez ring), a well-manicured L.A. friend who perpetually looks like she just stepped out of a Céline ad sent me a text. “I got the best buff three weeks ago—and it’s still shiny. I mean, it’s so shiny that it’s shinier than clear polish,” she wrote with uncharacteristic glee of her to decision to abandon nail polish—possibly for good.

Suddenly, everywhere I looked, buff fever was taking hold—including at the recent spring 2015 collections, where fashion’s sudden penchant for ease extended right down to models’ bare fingertips on the runway. Would Dries Van Noten’s troupe of woodland nymphs be caught dead with diamante-encrusted tips, I wondered? Did Balenciaga’s sporty couture sirens plan on pedaling their way to the nearest nail bar for a monogram manicure after the finale? I thought not.

A quick survey around the Vogue offices shed more light on the restrained elegance of life without lacquer. “Someone once told me that they couldn’t take anyone that wore nail polish seriously,” admitted’s Executive Fashion Editor Jorden Bickham with a laugh, recalling the exact moment, as a fledgling fashion assistant, she went “from blue to buff.” In fact, she added, “I haven’t worn nail polish since 2009. There’s nothing worse than chipped nails. I can’t look at them. So unless you’re going to get a manicure every three days, just don’t do it.”

Of her own decisions to forgo the polish, Fashion News Editor Alessandra Codinha says this: “Buff nails feel fresh. Less uptight. It’s just the right amount of natural. And if you have a nice bit of shine to your nail, it’s kind of the dressiest way to do nothing.”

Editorial manicurist Deborah Lippmann agrees that if you are going to go bare, that bit of healthy sheen is essential. “Taking a break from polish doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less maintenance,” she says, when I call her up to consult. “The hands have to be groomed.” That means regular appointments at the salon (or on your couch) to push back your cuticles and hydrate the area (Lippmann’s The Cure salve is fantastically rich but not heavy). Most importantly, invest in a four-sided buffer, which uses a different fabric on each surface of the square to create a different finish on the nail. “Start with the side marked one, which is the slightly rougher side of the buffer to gently exfoliate its surface and work your way up to four, which gives you that high gloss,” instructs Lippmann. Never use the abrasive side more than once a week. And when it comes to buffing, “less is more,” she says—before offering yet another good reason to go bare in the year ahead. “Sometimes , you just want a clean slate.”

1 / 4Chevron Chevron Photo: Courtesy of Deborah Lippmann Deborah Lippmann The Cure Cuticle Repair Cream, $24;

While I love having bright polish on my toes, I can’t remember the last time I painted my fingernails. It was probably back in Caroline’s budding nail technician days when she slathered 8 different colors all over my hands. Yeah, that was fun.

After reading that Sarah Jessica Parker gets her nails buffed instead of polished I started asking for that on the rare occasion that I get a manicure. It was perfect – my nails stayed shiny way longer than I expected and I wasn’t picking at polish in two days. Now I do an easy no-polish manicure at home – here’s how!

Then I had another epiphany after my last manicure. A week after having my cuticles trimmed my nails were a total wreck. The cuticles were a jagged mess as they grew back.

Less definitely seems like more (I also keep my nails crazy short) so I developed a simple at-home nail maintenance plan that has kept my nails happy.

Supplies needed:

  • Hand lotion. Again, coconut oil is awesome!
  • Orange cuticle stick or wooden one wrapped in cotton
  • Nail file
  • Clippers
  • Buffing block
  • Cuticle oil

5 Steps to a No-Polish Manicure:

This is totally easy to do while catching up on your favorite shows (I just discovered Mad Men on demand, hurrah!).

1. Soften with lotion

Slather on a healthy amount of hand lotion. More is better. Let it sit for a few minutes to soften everything. And if you don’t have coconut oil, you can add a bit of olive oil to your regular lotion. To me, this is way easier – and more effective – than soaking my hands in warm water or milk.

Soaking hands can get a little messy, too—I love giving my hands a super thorough, relaxing massage while watching a movie! This is something you can do every couple of nights as well to stop hands from getting too dry and cuticles from getting too raggedy.

2. Push back cuticles

Use the cuticle stick to gently push back your cuticles. Go easy here – no need to get aggressive! And I don’t attempt to cut my own cuticles. I find that they stay in better shape and don’t grow as fast if I leave them alone. Pushing them also leaves your cuticles natural shape intact and looking tidy for longer.

3. Shape nails

Snip any hangnails and shape nails with nail file. A rounded shape looks good on short nails, plus it means you don’t have any hard corners on your nails that are more likely to chip.

If you don’t have one already, a crystal nail file is amazing for filing nails down neatly and not leaving any rough edges.

Also, always remember to file in one direction, instead of sawing back and forth—this helps to stop nails from breaking as quickly!

4. Buff nails

My buffing block is my new favorite thing. Your smooth and shiny nails will last for days. I love that they stay super shiny, while looking tidier than just plain natural nails!

There’s also no need to worry about any chips—even a clear top coat will chip, leaving nails looking a little weird and uneven after a while.

5. Brush on cuticle oil

End by dabbing on cuticle oil and massaging it in. I like to pop an oil like olive or sweet almond into a cuticle oil pen to keep with me—it’s really handy to stash a few at my desk, on my bedside, and in my bag so my cuticles (and nails!) stay hydrated and strong. No peely cuticles here!

How do you take care of your nails? Are you a polish or a natural girl?

Photos by Ana Stanciu



As much as I love experimenting with new polish colors and nail art techniques, keeping up with the mani/pedi Joneses can be totally tiresome after a while. The solution? A super-shiny, polish-free mani. Katie Saxton, a nail expert from Custom Nail Solutions, agrees. Check out her tips for making your nails sparkle…sans top coat.

Show Your Cuticles Some TLC: To keep your cuticles in tip-top shape—which, FYI, is the secret to wearing naked nails—soak fingertips, making sure to cover the entire cuticle area, in olive oil for 10 minutes. Massage the oil in and apply a good hand cream. Olive oil is so hydrating it’ll keep your cuticles in great shape for days. Literally.

…But DON’T Pick at Them: Push your cuticles back with an orange stick. Whenever cuticles become visible, snip them off immediately with a quality pair of nail scissors. Resist the urge to pick at them, as this could lead to a dry, ragged look.

Get Buff: Buff your nails with a buffing block to keep them from cracking. Starting at the cuticle of each nail, move up in circles to buff the entire nail bed.

Apply a DIY Nail Hardener: Now THIS is one of the best ways to condition your nails. And, surprise, you can make one at home! Before starting, ensure that nails are completely washed, dry, and free of color. To make, you’ll need three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, one egg yolk and three teaspoons of olive oil. Mix, then refrigerate. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture on the entire nail, sides of the nail and corners, as these areas are the most likely to experience breaks and chips. Rub the mixture in and let sit for an hour. Wash your hands and apply a good hand cream. GUYS, this little concoction will change your life. Trust me.

Massage the Nail Beds: Tight shoulder muscles aren’t the only thing that needs a good rubdown. Massage the nail beds (in teeny circular motions) in order to promote blood flow to the nails. You can do it every other day to keep your nails healthy and in good shape.


  • 7 Sneaky Ways to Hide a Chipped Mani
  • Do You Need to Go on the Gel Mani Diet?

Image Credit: CNP Digital Archives

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DIY Acrylic Nails are easier then you think to do at home! The best part about doing your nails at home is that you can do them in the comfort of your own home.

When my hands look great, I just feel better. Unfortunately, that gets a little expensive after a while. I was paying $40+ per set and sometimes more depending on what ‘extras’ I wanted like UV gel or airbrush French manicure.

Have you ever wondered how to do acrylic nails yourself? I tried doing my nails by hand. It was messy and they never turned out right. There’s a reason techs go to school to learn these hand-shaped techniques! Then I found a product that changed everything.

Once I found this product, I had put together a breakdown of how to do fake nails step by step so you can do your own acrylics at home!

Easiest DIY Acrylic Nails at Home

* Check the end of the post for an update and video link showing how to fill the nails after and keep them looking great.

I did the French tip nails on my first try, sitting at my desk while I watched a movie on Netflix. Guess what – you can too. You just need these little gems…

These are nail forms. They come in different brand names, but I personally use Form-A-Nail. They make acrylic nails simple, fast and more affordable. Typically you would have to fight with applying acrylic directly onto your nail or nail tip, struggling with working with the opposite hand, patting, sliding, filing it down, buffing it out… and still likely end up with ridges, bumps and uneven edges.

With nail forms none of that is an issue. Work with both hands, start over if you mess up, add glitter or accents, no filing or buffing required… all before the acrylic even touches your fingernail.

4 Easy Steps for DIY Acrylic Nails:

  1. Add artificial nail tip (after a bit of practice you can even skip this step!)
  2. Apply acrylic to nail form
  3. Press nail form onto nail for 15 – 20 seconds
  4. File edges

Don’t believe me? Check out the video:

Once I had the knack of the nail forms (one try is all it took) I couldn’t wait to add more color and design.

Purple & Pink glitter ombre

Adding art is simple:

  • mix glitter into your acrylic before applying
  • place glitter directly into acrylic in form
  • place almost anything into the form with the acrylic: decals, gems, beads, even images from a magazine

It was so easy that I found myself grabbing up all kinds of supplies. This glitter sample tray was calling my name.

*This glitter set is no longer available, however, check out these other fun options!

But, it wasn’t enough. I had the nail art bug. The logical next step was fimo. Fimo sticks are sliced with a razor blade to make colorful images for your nails. Many people place them on TOP of the nail art. But that creates a layered 3D effect that can catch on fabric, break off, scratch your kids (found that out the hard way). With nail forms, you put the fimo slice UNDER the acrylic so they won’t come off until you remove the nail.

My fimo stick starter set – 200 pcs assorted

The design set into the fimo, before cutting

Please excuse my crochet hand warmers. My office gets really cold in the winter. And my giant thumb. Gotta love weird camera angles.

Sliced fimo, ready for nail application

*Ready to get your own fimo? Check out these options:

I realize there are some people who aren’t into going all out with design, fimo etc. Some just want a pretty, natural nail. I love that style as well. So I set out to see just how natural nail forms could look. I was very happy with the results.

First attempt: Semi-transparent natural nail tip with clear acrylic in a nail form. I polished just the tips with Sally Hansen “Disco Ball’.

For my second attempt I used a traditional nail tip and overlayed with ‘natural’ acrylic on the tips and ‘soft pink’ on the nail beds. Again, applied with nail forms. This gave me a different natural look with more pink and it was a little bit stronger than the first try. However, both looked great and even more natural than what I usually received at the nail salon.

If you want to try DIY acrylic nails at home, but you’ve been scared you’ll end up with a Pinterest “fail” instead – try nail forms. I think you’ll be amazed at just how easy it really is.

Here is a breakdown of the products I used for my DIY acrylic nails.

  • ASP Form-A-Nail – The must have for home acrylics
  • No Lift Professional Acrylic Nail Kit – Excellent Acrylic powder & liquid starter kit. Comes with all 4 acrylic colors and primer as well.
  • Decori Adoro Acrylic Tips in NATURAL – My current favorite tips for a natural look.
  • Acrylic Brush – as long as you paid more than $5 for it, you’ll be fine.
  • SHANY Fimo Canes – a great fimo starter set
  • Glitter – the set I used is no longer available. Try this one instead
  • DL Professional French Manicure Clean-Up Brush – my favorite ‘smile line’ brush to create perfect French manicures and pedicures
  • Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear, Disco Ball – My new favorite glitter polish
  • Blue Hills Studio Storage Cart with 6 Drawers – My storage cart for nail supplies. If you decide to stock up on supplies, you’ll want to store them separately and securely. I had this cart previously and it was perfect.

So now you know how to do acrylic nails like a pro!

UPDATE: A lot of readers want to know how to fill the nails. to watch a great video by Bold n Trendy Nails showing how to keep your at-home set looking great.

ALSO: Check out my newest Easy Nail System Review: KIARA SKY DIP POWDER – with video!


  • ASP Form-A-Nail – The must have for home acrylics
  • No Lift Professional Acrylic Nail Kit – Excellent Acrylic powder & liquid starter kit. Comes with all 4 acrylic colors and primer as well.
  • Decori Adoro Acrylic Tips in NATURAL – My current favorite tips for a natural look.
  • Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear, Disco Ball – My new favorite glitter polish


  • Blue Hills Studio Storage Cart with 6 Drawers – My storage cart for nail supplies. If you decide to stock up on supplies, you’ll want to store them separately and securely. I had this cart previously and it was perfect.
  • Acrylic Brush – as long as you paid more than $5 for it, you’ll be fine.
  • SHANY Fimo Canes – a great fimo starter set
  • Glitter – the set I used is no longer available. Try this one instead
  • DL Professional French Manicure Clean-Up Brush – my favorite ‘smile line’ brush to create perfect French manicures and pedicures

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

  • ASP Form-A-Nail
  • Acrylic Mini Nail Kit
  • Decori Adoro Acrylic False Artificial Tips Nail Art NATURAL – Modern Salon 500 pcs by Adoro
  • SHANY Cosmetics Nail Art Manicure Fimo Canes, Sticks, and Rods Gel Tips with Cutter, 200 Count
  • DL Professional French Manicure Clean-Up Brush, 4 Ounce
  • Beauties Factory 45 x Nail Art Glitter Decoration
  • Sally Hansen Disco Ball Xtreme Nail Color (2 pk)
  • Blue Hills Studio SC6SM Storage Cart 6-Drawer (Standard and Deep) Smoke

Anna Hoychuk/

Long, gorgeous nails aren’t necessarily made in a nail salon. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to avoid the professional mani/pedi altogether. Acrylics are pricey and can damage your nails, and the toxins from nail polish can do some scary things to your body, too.

As for growing out your nails au natural? That often seems like a pipe dream, especially for habitual nail biters and those with brittle nails. (These everyday habits are ruining your nails, too.) Thankfully, you don’t have to be blessed with flawless nails to have a manicure you’re proud of.

Yes, really! All you need is this simple trick from YouTube beauty blogger Ela Gale. Using only three ingredients, you can make your nails grow faster and considerably stronger in just a few weeks. And not only will this all-natural idea save your wallet, but it’s also super easy.

Here’s how it works: In two small bowls, mix together ½ cup of orange juice and one clove of crushed garlic. Then, soak your fingers in the mixture for 15 minutes. Pour out the bowls and fill them with ¼ cup of olive oil, soaking your fingers for another five to 10 minutes. Wash your hands to clear away the leftover residue. Once you get this simple, natural beauty trick down, here’s how to file your nails so they never peel or break again.

Voila! After doing this twice a week, you’ll start to see longer, stronger nails in no time. Just don’t forget the 14-step process to getting healthy and gorgeous nails while you’re at it.

How to do your nails at home like a professional?

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