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How to Paint Your Nails at Home

Ah, the art of perfecting the at-home manicure. It’s not a challenge for the faint of heart. Y’all know I’m not much of a DIY-er, but when it comes to getting my nails done, I rarely have the time to make it to the salon and plant myself in a chair for an hour. A pedicure I can handle, but there is just something about my hands being tied up that makes me feel very claustrophobic. I love gel nails and can deal with a good dip polish but I end up chewing on them (gross I know), chipping them or somehow destroying them in 3 days flat each and every time. When you factor in the fact that most of my free time these days is after 8 pm, a trip to the nail place is not always in the cards for me.

In my experience, painting my nails at home can go 1 of 2 ways: it can either be an excellent opportunity for restful me-time, or an actual nightmare of an experience. We’ve all been there! You apply a color you think you’ll love, and it turns out differently than expected. You use an older (*cough, ancient*) polish and it doesn’t dry well, leaving you with a goopy, sticky mess. You forget the top coat and your nails are chipping within 3 hours. Bottom line: there’s a lot of room for error here. That’s why I’m bringing you all the tips I have for a successful at-home manicure, including best practices and all my favorite nail polishes. I shared my favorite nude polishes a while back, but I’ve since added some to the collection that I think you’ll like! I’m also sharing my favorite darks (best for fall/winter), and my favorite reds (which I usually just use on my toes), and the press ons that I use.

Ok last thing, here’s a challenge for you: use the tips I share toward the bottom of the post and give yourself an at-home mani. Then, share it in your stories and tag me on Instagram, or post it to Facebook, wherever you follow along! And feel free to share any tips you have as well. Happy pampering!

Tips for an At-Home Manicure

Favorite Nude Polishes

Favorite Dark Polishes

Favorite Pinks & Reds

Press On & Glue Favorites

8 Tips for an At-Home Manicure

  1. Only use new polish. We’ve all had that hopeful moment where we pull out the color from the back of the cabinet and think “maybe this will be okay”, only to be met with goopy polish. Do yourself a favor and just spend the $8 on a new bottle!
  2. Don’t shake your polish. If you want to make sure your nail polish is ready to apply roll it back and forth between your hands to loosen up the liquid inside.
  3. Block off at least 45 min to get the job done. This might seem excessive, but I typically use an hour of show watching, reading or emailing to paint my nails so I know I’ll be sitting still or not using my nails for a while.
  4. Use cuticle oil & GENTLY push your cuticles back before you begin. It’s easiest to do this after a shower or bath! Simply apply some cuticle oil and use a generic cuticle pusher to make sure your cuticles are pushed back from the nail. Or get a kit like this one will have every tool you need! If you don’t have cuticle oil then coconut oil will work just fine.
  5. Start with a base coat. There is a big debate on if you need a base coat but I think it’s a must because it helps your color glide on more smoothly. I like to use a base coat that doubles as a strengthener like this one.
  6. Follow the 3 stroke rule. Paint three LIGHT strokes on each nail, one right, one left & one in the center. Get a small bead of polish on the tip of the brush and just use the brush to smooth the polish out. This will stop you from using too much polish. Repeat this for 3 layers and you will have a perfect manicure!
  7. Finish with a top coat! Always always use a top coat like this one to seal the deal and get your mani to last. It really does work!
  8. If you make a mistake dip an old eyeliner brush in remover to clean up any excess. It really helps to have nail polish remover & cotton balls on hand in case you mess up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smudged my manicure only to realize I have no remover and no way of fixing my mess.

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  1. […] How to Paint Your Nails at Home {Cristin Cooper} […]

  2. Melissa says:

    I have the best luck with the Vinylux colors. They stay the longest for me and dry the fastest too.