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How to Apply Nail Polish Like a Pro


Art Credit: Kenya Bravo

Many women are all too familiar with the sadness of a professional manicure that has expired. For 2 —or if you're lucky, 3—glorious days you feel like a woman with her life together. That smooth coat of paint on the tips of your fingers makes you feel poised, feminine, and well—polished. But then you see it: that chip in the lacquer, and with it a chip in your dream. Much like Cinderella's dismay when her carriage transforms back into a pumpkin.

Perhaps its not quite as dramatic as all that, but it still sends many of us running to the nearest salon for a manicure or blocking off the night for "operation Home Manicure" which does not often end with satisfactory results. But it is possible to give yourself a professional looking manicure. It takes a bit of time and the right tools, but thanks to the ladies at Fix Beauty Bar in Manhattan, we—and now you—have the secrets to get the job done!


01. File: fit your nail file directly under your fingernail so that it is between the skin on the tip of your finger and the underside of your nail. Drag the nail file in one direction across the tip of your nail in short, sharp strokes. For a more rounded look, curve the nail file around the underside of the corners of your fingernail. Always file in one direction, not back and forth. File until you have reached the desired length and shape.

02. Buff: Grasp the buffer in the same way you would your nail file and gently rub it over the top of your nail in short strokes. Work from your cuticle to the tip, buffing in one direction only.

03. Cuticles: You can either use a cuticle softener or regular body lotion (hint: lotion works best after soaking in a shower or bath). Apply the lotion to your cuticles and rub them with your pointer finger. After you have rubbed your cuticles down, brush them gently in one direction with a cuticle buffer or regular nail buffer.


04. Wash & Prep: After you have finished buffing your cuticles, wash your hands and scrape off any residue around your cuticles and under your nail.

05. Base Coat:Support the finger of the nail-in-question with your thumb (or if you're filling your thumb-nail, support your thumb with your middle finger). Apply the base coat starting at the cuticle. Allow the brush to fan out over the nail as you brush it toward the tip. Always work from the left to the right of your nail, this way you are sure not to miss a spot!

06. Choose your color: This is the fun part! Inspired by the cool lavender polish featured in our June/July Issue (Cool Off, pg. 19), we went with a similarly cool lavender hue by Morgan Taylor.

07. Prep the Brush: Dip your brush into the bottle. Drag the brush up out of the bottle while wiping the brush on the rim of the bottle. Without re-dipping the brush, slowly wipe the other side of the brush on the opposite side of the rim; pressing firmly so the brush slightly fans. Continue to pull the brush all the way out of the bottle while wiping the paint off on the rim.

The goal is to push the paint toward the tip on one side of the brush. When done successfully the brush should have a slight crescent shape. This takes practice, but it is the secret ingredient to professionally manicured nails!


08. First Coat:Support the finger of the nail-in-question with your thumb (if you're painting your thumb-nail, support your thumb with your middle finger). Starting at the cuticle, apply the tip of the brush to your nail. Press down, allowing the brush to fan out, and draw the brush to the tip of your nail, again moving from left to right to get an even coat.

09. Second Coat: After applying the first coat to your fingernails on both hands, you may begin with the second coat. Repeat steps 07 and 08.

10. Sealing the Tips:After applying the second coat, go back to the left most tip of the nail and drag your brush along the edge. This seals the the paint off on the tip of the nail and prolongs the life of your manicure!

11. Top Coat:Follow step 05. and invest in a fast drying top coat. Nothing is more frustrating then spending your entire night blowing on your hands, only to wake up with sheet marks the next morning!

Once your nails are dry, step out into the world and enjoy feeling polished!