How to paint your nails: At-home manicure tips that really work

Painting your nails at home is actually super easy.
/ Source: TODAY
By Bobbie Thomas

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Remember those days when painting your nails was just a silly sleepover activity?

Sleepovers may be a thing of the past but fun, easy nail care doesn't have to be.

TODAY Style Squad member Bobbie Thomas is happy to share her quick tips and favorite salon-quality products for healthy, beautiful nails.

1."Pull-off" polish

Saturate a cotton swab with polish remover. Cover your nail with the cotton and allow the liquid to naturally pull the polish from your nail rather than forcefully rubbing. Ta-da! Wasn't that so much easier?

  • HiMo Plastic Acrylic Nail Art Soak Off Cap Clip, $5, Amazon

This fast-acting tool is perfect for removing nail polish in a hurry. They store away easily and are totally reusable, meaning no more wasting tissues or cotton balls scrubbing off hard-to-remove polish.

This polish is quick to apply, with no need for base coats or top coats. The polish will last for about 7-10 days, but is easy to remove at will.

2. File in one direction

Resist the urge to "saw" a file back and forth since it can splinter the nail's edge. Instead, use one long swipe along the edge of your nail and continue in the same direction.

  • Sensationail Gel Polish Starter Kit, $26 (usually $60), Amazon

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This kit includes a gel cleanser and primer, colorful polish, a base and top coat, wipes, a nail buffer, a manicure stick and an LED lamp. In short, it's basically a toolkit for at-home manicurists. There's hardly any dry time, and the LED lamp means you'll end up with a salon-quality high-gloss shine.

3. Do a dry manicure

Avoid wetting your nails! This may seem counterintuitive, since professional manis often start with a soak, but water will expand your nail shape. A layer of polish applied to freshly soaked nails will peel, lift and chip faster when your nails dry and return to their natural shape.

  • Deborah Lippmann 2 Second Nail Primer Nail Cleanser, $15, Amazon

Before you apply your base coat, apply this protein-rich nail cleanser to clean, dry nails. The formula removes dirt, oil, and other residue from nails, meaning your manicure will last even longer!

4. Buff away

Buff to exfoliate and smooth the tops of your nails, but be sure to use a gentle buffer — not a regular nail file! You should be able to run your finger across the nail bed without pain and you shouldn't see distinct scratches or texture. Begin at the base of the nail, and use a softer touch as you approach the tip (don’t push too hard as bending can cause the nail to break).

  • Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit, $39 (usually $55), Amazon

This set comes with everything you need to do an at-home manicure, including tools, polish, base and top coats, and a UV light. The included supplies will last you for about 10 manicures, with each one lasting two weeks - and after buying this, you may never want to go to a nail salon again.

5. Push cuticles (don't cut)

Remove dry skin by pushing your cuticles back with a pusher and/or cuticle gel. The only instance that cutting is recommended is if you have a hang nail.

  • Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, $6 (usually $10), Amazon

If you really want to make your manicure last, be sure to put on a base and top coat. This top coat from Sally Hansen comes in either a matte or shine finish, and makes your nail polish more chip-resistant without the help of a UV lamp.

6. Coats are key!

Base coat helps protect nails and make polish stick, while top coat keeps color in place. It will pay off in the long run to use them both, especially since base coat will prevent your nail bed from being dyed the color of the polish. When applying any polish on your nails, use three strokes (one in the center, one down each side) and then cap it to keep the paint fresh.

  • Wet n Wild 1 Step Wonder Nail color Gel 3-Pc Bundle, $8, Amazon

In several fun colors, and with all the color and shine of a UV cured gel polish without all the work, these gel polishes will make even the simplest manicure look glamorous.

  • Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish, $10 (usually $12), Amazon

This fun polish from Essie comes in eight colors and gives wearers up to two weeks of wear. Best used with a top coat, these colors are sure to add some style to your day.

7. Let your layers dry

Allow each coat to dry for a minimum of one minute. While this may seem tedious, it will save you time in the end with less mistakes and faster drying overall. You won’t have to worry about dents and lines!

This LED light means every manicure you give yourself ends with salon-worthy results. While this product is specifically designed to work with other Gelish nail products, it'll leave you nails that last for nearly a month, and takes less than a minute to operate.

This story was originally published Aug. 3, 2017.

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