How To Paint Your Nails Like A Pro

Top tricks of the trade to nail an at-home DIY session.

1. Oil can liven up bare nails.

When your unpainted nails look sad and you don’t have time for a full mani, applying a cuticle oil or a natural, odourless base oil such as almond, coconut, macadamia or jojoba can moisturise dry skin and give your manicure a second wind. 

2. Add special effects during your dry time.

We are obsessed with the high-shine, reflective chrome nail trend, and this is a look you can easily while waiting for your topcoat to dry. Apply a long-lasting topcoat, then four minutes later while it’s still tacky, apply a chrome or holographic nail powder using a foam eye shadow applicator. Dry, and then finish with another layer of topcoat.

Similarly, adding small pearls, gems, or accents is relatively easy, and you do not need to be very savvy with the paint brush. We recommend 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 hair.

We recommend avoiding toenails where possible, as the wearing of closed-toe shoes could risk the smudging of nail powder and gemstones.

3. If you’re in a rush, pick a sheer shade.
In a rush? Choose a sheer shade that is similar to your own nail colour's because it’s dummy-proof. Be sure to take it off within 2 days however if not protecting your nails with a base coat. And if you’re going with full-on colour, 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.

4. Use painter’s tape for negative space manis.

Lay down the tape in the shape you want to ‘cut out’ of your nail colour, then apply a base coat and two coats of polish around the tape. When you peel it off once nails are fully dry (this is very important!), you’re left with an artistic negative-space manicure.

5. Use white polish as a primer.

If you really want a bright colour to pop, try using a white polish first. Try a neon polish over 2 coats of white for the most eye-catching nails. 

6. 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, and we recommend treating your nail care as an additional step to your skincare: When you’re done with your face, apply almond or cuticle oil after that. It helps to keep a bottle of it right next to your bed so you get into the habit.

7. Simple nails often make the biggest impact.

Remember: You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to make a statement. See the best versions of simple nails here.

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

Try something new; for example applying a matte topcoat to your designs, or a simple black dot on a nail applied with a toothpick. Small accents can 
transform what could be childish into a more chic look.

9. When in doubt, there are always press-ons.

Another option for those rushed for time: Skip the dry time and go straight for press-ons. The prep is the key, where you want to make sure your nails are free from oil. So buff your nails, get rid of the shine, and push back your cuticles before applying falsies.