How to Apply Nail Polish

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The Faultless Shiny Finish


The best way to prepare the surface, plus an overview of the best painting technique

There’s no other way around it. You have to use good quality nail polish. Poor quality polish chips easily, gets thick quickly, and is really not worth the initial savings.

A bottle of good nail polish can last a year or even more. Just take care not to leave the brush out for too long, to wipe the excess polish off the rim after each use, and to keep the lid on tight.

When the liquid starts looking thick on the brush, throw the bottle away. Adding nail polish remover to the liquid is not a solution, because the polish will loose its lustre.

However, if you notice that your new (or newish) good quality nail polish is starting to lift and bubble in a day or two, don’t ditch the bottle. The problem might be inadequate preparation, or bad nail painting technique.

Follow these steps to get that perfect colourful shine.


Preparatory steps

Buff you nails. Nail polish looks better and lasts longer on no-ridges nails.

Remove the naturally forming oils from nail plates. If you don’t, the nail polish may start peeling off in a day or two. However, do not soak your fingers (or toes) for a long period of time, because nails will absorb water and the polish will not adhere as well as it should. Instead, gently rub your nails with a nail brush dipped into a soapy solution to remove excess oil.

Dry the nails and wipe them with a cotton pad soaked in nail polish remover. Allow to dry, and you are ready for the next stage.

Apply a thin layer of base coat and let it dry. The base coat is a clear liquid that dries quickly to a dull, slightly sticky surface. It protects your nails from nail polish stains and helps nail polish stick better.


The painting technique

Roll the bottle of nail polish between your hands to mix the content. Do not shake. This creates air bubbles, and if they get onto your nails, the nail polish will look bad and may peel off in a day or two.

Dip the brush inside the nail polish bottle and wipe the excess on the rim of the bottle to apply a thin layer. Never apply thick layers. This will also lead to peeling.

Paint a stripe of polish down the middle of your nail from the cuticle to the tip. Follow with color on either side. Use long, smooth, gentle but firm strokes, always going over the tips of the nails with the brush (this also helps squeeze our any air bubbles that may have slipped in). If you happen to miss a spot, leave it and cover when applying the second coat.

Allow your nails to dry before applying the obligatory second layer and the optional third layer. The nails should be dry in about ten minutes.  When you think a layer is dry, gently knock two nails together to test. If there is any stickiness, wait some more.

After the second (or third) coat is in place, wait for at least half an hour before applying a protective clear top coat. The top coat is usually clear and dries to a shiny, smooth surface. A good top coat puts a hard shield over your polish to make it last longer and to  protect it from scrapes and scratches. It also helps the polish settle smoothly on your nails, evening out any mild imperfections in the application. You may want to apply top coat every two days to prologue the life of your nail polish.

Once your nails are completely dry, clean up any mess with an ear bud dipped into the nail polish remover.

To finish off, dip your nails in cold water for a few minutes, dry and apply baby oil over them.

How to Repair Chipped Nail Polish

There are few things that say not groomed as loudly as a chipped nail polish. And it can happen even to the best of us (best in keeping a polished façade, that is). One careless knock can leave a blaring chip on otherwise carefully painted nails.

What’s the quickest way to repair the damage?

Removing all the polish from one nail is a lengthy procedure, and will almost certainly entail re-painting all ten nails, because that pesky remover has the tendency to get all over the well-polished nails.

If you try to cut the corners and just paint over the nail without smoothing the chip, everyone will be able to see the dent, and that’s not on.

So, here is the quick solution.

Dip a fingertip into the nail polish remover and gently rub over the chipped area. Your aim is not to remove all of the nail polish, but to smooth the area over. No need to use somebody else’s finger either; just be careful to get a small amount of nail polish onto the tip of the smoothing finger, without letting it run onto that finger’s perfectly polished nail. You might be tempted to do it with a cotton bud – but don’t, because the fibers will stick to the nail polish, and you’ll make a mess of it.

Once the surface is smooth and dry, paint one more layer of polish over the casualty nail. Allow to dry and apply a coat of clear nail polish. The result will look as new.

If you are pressed for time and the chip is at the very edge of the nail, just file your nail a little shorter to remove the chipped area.



If you find it difficult to paint your nails with your non-writing hand, tackle this hurdle fist. So, if you are right-handed, start by painting the nails on your right hand. And remember – practice makes perfect! Even if you are a beginner on the quest to the perfect shiny finish, you'll soon be able to paint away quickly and neatly.


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