How To Apply Nail Polish Neatly (Like A Pro)

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The idea of applying nail polish on your nails is to make them look beautiful, classy and fit your dressing and personality. Do you find it difficult applying your nail polish?, or do you see it as a full time job?, or you mess up your nails each time you want to try it, making you employ the services of a nail technician? It’s ok to be an amateur, but not to worry, we’re here to help. This article entails a pro guide on how to apply nail polish properly — like a pro, giving you the upper hand and saving you the expense of employing the services of a nail technician.


Preparing Your Nails For Polish.

Step 1. Choose A Nail Polish.

How to apply nail polish

You have to pick the right nail polish. Not all nail polish are created equal. Some are safe and contains no harmful substances while some contains potential-harmful chemicals which can damage and discolor the nails. Before choosing a nail polish, there are some number of things you have to keep in mind.

  • Ensure your nail polish and base/top coat are labelled “B3F” or “3-free”. These polishes contain no formaldehyde, Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or toluene which are considered toxic to the nails and can cause damages. Nail polishes without these toxic chemicals are becoming standard in the industry and are safer.
  • Choose the right nail polish that suits your skin tone This is to encourage an elegant and suiting appearance.
  • Avoid the quick-dry nail polish as they contain harsh ingredients that can weaken your nails. Instead stick with slow-drying nail polishes. You can dip your nails in an ice or cold water to quicken the drying process.
  • If you prefer color rhyme, then you can pick a nail polish that corresponds with your outfit for more gorgeous looks.
  • While choosing white polish make sure the formula is thick and creamy so it doesn’t go on too sheer or streaky.

Step 2. Wipe Off Old Polish From Your Nails.

How to apply nail polish

If you want to produce a neat manicure with an even finish, then removing old polish from your nails is a must.
You can do this using an acetone-free nail polish remover. Why? Acetone-free nail polish removers are great for gently removing nail polish without drying out your nails and cuticle.

How to clean off old nail polish.

  • Place a small chunk of cotton ball over the opening of your nail polish remover (to let the liquid soak into the cotton ball).
  • Bend the polish remover bottle downwards to enable the cotton absorb the liquid.
  • Rub the soaked cotton ball over your nails to wipe off the polish.
  • Re-soak your cotton ball as needed and continue cleaning off the old polish until it’s properly cleaned.

Step 3. Clip or Trim Your Nails.

How to apply nail polish

After you must have successfully removed the old polish from your nails. You need to trim off the unshape edges of your nails to keep it neatly in shape.

How to trim your nails.

  • Reach out for a sharp nail clipper or cutter.
  • Trim your nails straight across, then round the tips in a gentle curve.

Step 4. File Your Nail In The Right Direction.

How to apply nail polish

After trimming your nails to your desired length, then you need to smoothen the edges of your nails with an emery board nail file to give it that smooth texture while will encourage an even polish finish

How to File Your Nails.

  • File your nails into a round, square, or rounded-square shape.
  • Run over each nail with a slightly abrasive buffer to even out the surface of your nails.

Step 5: Soak Your Nails In Warm Water.

How to apply nail polish

After you must have clipped, shaped, and filed your nails, then you need to pamper them by soaking them in warm water with a mild facial cleanser. While your nails are dipped in warm water, use a soft toothbrush to scrub your nails. This is to exfoliate your hands sloughing away dead skin cells and get rid of particles.

  • Get a basin of warm water (not hot).
  • Pour in some amount of facial cleanser.
  • Dip your nails in the basin (filled with water) using a soft toothbrush scrub your nails gently.
  • Dry your nails with a clean towel.

This will also keep your cuticles soft.

Step 6: Push Back Your Cuticle.

How to apply nail polish

Your cuticles protect your nail base. Removing your cuticles is just like leaving your nails vulnerable to bacteria infection as the skin area will be open and exposed.

Do not push your cuticles backwards if it hurts as this could cause them to bleed. Although it may still hurt a little while you do it because you haven’t done it before.

How to push your cuticle backwards.

  • Use a cuticle pusher (or the round side of a teaspoon) to carefully push the cuticle back towards your nail bed.
  • Push in the sides of the cuticle as well.
  • Remove any dry or damaged skin. (Do that gently)
  • Repeat on the rest of your nails.

Step 7: Moisturize Your Nails & Cuticles.

How to apply nail polish

Just as we moisturize our skin to keep it well hydrated, our nails and cuticles also needs a touch of hydration too. Using a cotton ball dab almond oil or coconut oil on your nails and cuticles. You can as well apply a cuticle oil. Leave on nails for 2-3 minutes.

Step 8: Remove Oil and Grease From Your Nails.

How to apply nail polish

After you must have moisturized your nails and cuticles for 2-3 minutes. You can remove the oil by using rubbing alcohol.
(If you don’t have rubbing alcohol you can as well use a nail polish).

How to do it.

  • Place a cotton ball over the opening of the rubbing alcohol bottle or nail polish remover.
  • Bend the bottle downwards and wait a moment for the cotton ball to become soaked with the rubbing alcohol.
  • Swipe the rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton ball over your nails to remove the oil.
  • Repeat as needed.

Step 9: Apply A Thin Layer Of Petroleum Jelly Around Each Nail Before Painting Them.

How to apply nail polish

This trick keeps your polish neat.

Before painting your nails, you can take measures to prevent the polish from drying outside the lines of your nails. You can achieve a perfectly neat polish every time by placing a thin layer of petroleum jelly around the edge of your nail. The oil from the vaseline will serve as a barrier between your skin and the nail polish.

How to do it.

  • Dab a cotton bud into a jar of petroleum jelly. If you don’t have vaseline, you can use sheabutter or a lotion.
  • Swipe the cotton bud around the edges of each nail—keep the cotton bud and petroleum jelly on your skin (around your nails) Do not let either touch your nail.
  • Pick out your polish and get ready to paint your nails.

Step 10: Apply A Base Coat To Each Nail & Wait For It To Dry.

How to apply nail polish

Before you apply your nail polish, ensure you apply your base coat first. Base coats prevent polish from staining your nails. It provides a clear protective layer between the nail and the pigment of the polish above. A base coat forms a protective layer on your skin, prevents your nails from damaging effects and getting discolored and stained. Furthermore it helps the polish stick to your nail more easily which makes the polish look better on your nails with more even texture. Coat each nail in a thin, even layer of base coat. Allow the base coat to dry.

How to apply a base coat.

  • Swipe the brush on the inside of the bottle’s opening to remove excess base coat from the brush.
  • Dab the base coat brush on your nails downwards.
  • Repeat process until even application is achived.
  • Allow it to dry.

Step 11: Mix Your Polish.

How to apply nail polish

Ensure you roll the nail polish container between your hands to mix the contents together. Do not shake it, as this creates bubbles that make application a challenge.

Start Polishing.

Step 12: Apply The Nail Polish In Three Coats.

How to apply polish

In order to achieve a neat, even manicure you need to apply one to three thin layers of polish. You can control the thickness of each coat by only leaving enough polish on your brush to cover one nail. You can remove excess polish from your brush by sliding your brush up the inside of the bottle’s opening from base to tip. Once you have just enough polish on your brush, apply the paint in three strokes.

  • Swipe the base coat brush on your nails from your cuticle downwards–do your best to leave a small gap of nail between the polish and your cuticle.
  • Return the brush to the base of your nail. Move the brush upwards along the right curve of your nail until the entire side is coated in polish.
  • Repeat this process on each nail.
  • Allow the polish to dry before adding another coat.

Step 13: Apply A Top Coat To Each Nail And Wait For It To Dry. 

How to apply nail polish

Top coat gives a high gloss and shine to applied nail polish and makes it feel smooth. It helps your manicure stay fresh and look younger for a longer time. They add brilliant shine to your polished fingers. Once your nails are completely dry, apply a thin layer of top coat to each nail. If possible, apply a quick-drying top coat to your nails.

  • Soak your fingernails in ice or cold water to help your polish dry faster (this will make the drying process faster).

Step 14: Remove The Petroleum Using A Cotton-Bud or Ball.

How to apply nail polish

If you applied a thin coat of petroleum jelly around the edge of your nails, allow your nails to dry completely before you remove the petroleum jelly. Once the top coat is dry, trace the edges of your nails with a clean cotton-bud or ball and remove the petroleum jelly from your skin around each nail, you will also wipe away any polish sitting on top of the oily substance leaving your nails neatly done.

Step 15: Final Step: Clean Up Excess Polish.

How to apply nail polish

No one is perfect, there must be excess polish stains exceeding your nails. You can carefully remove any excess polish with a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover. This will leave you with a pristine manicure.

  • Simply dip the cotton bud in a polish remover.
  • Swipe the soaked cotton bud next to your untidy nail polish line.
  • Without applying any pressure slightly swipe the cotton bud along your nail polish line. Repeat on each nail polish line.
  • Use the cotton bud to remove nail polish that dried on your skin.
  • You can dip your cotton bud in the remover and wipe as needed till it’s completely done.
UP NEXT: The 15 Best Nail Care Tips For Stronger, Healthy & Beautiful Nails
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