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How to clean under your nails (without ruining your manicure)

So you've decided to paint your nails. You're kind of a pro, so you moisturize, swab your nails with alcohol, push back your cuticles and get to work. Base coat. Two coats of color. Top coat. Wait for the nails to dry. Such an investment of time and effort! But when all is said and done, they look amazing.

You hold them back to admire your handiwork ... and realize, Duh, there's dirt under them. Not cute.

Check out TODAY's A-Z nail "GIF"-tionary for more at-home nail art ideas.

So you use your right index finger to clean under the nails on your left hand. But now your right index finger is kind of mashed down on one side. And you still have to clean your right hand. And everything is ruined! Ruined!

Never again.

U is for ... Under nail

It's so simple, yet brilliant: Use a disposable mascara wand dipped in polish remover to clean under the free edge. The bristles combined with the chemicals in the polish remover will shake loose whatever is lurking under there — and your hard-earned manicure will stay flawless.

RELATED: 10 awful habits that are destroying your nails, and how to break them now

Not every lesson has to be learned the hard way.

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