A Foolproof Guide to DIY Manis

Think you’ll never master the at-home manicure? Think again. It’s not nearly as difficult or as time consuming as you think. In fact, skip the froufrou soaking and slathering and you can get the whole thing done in only 15 minutes. Now go reclaim your life and start painting your digits in the comfort of your living room.

Step 1: Remove all existing polish. 

Step 2: Clip and file nails into your desired shape. Try a slightly oval one to make them appear longer.

Step 3: Cuticle time. Brush on cuticle oil and let it absorb for a few minutes. Don’t worry about soaking your nails in water, which can temporarily expand nail beds and lead to an uneven paint job. Instead, grab an orange stick and gently push back cuticles. It’s OK to trim any hangnails or visibly loose skin but leave the rest of your cuticles for protection against infection.

Step 4: One last swipe of polish remover to clean off all traces of oil. This time, dampen a paper towel with remover. (Cotton balls tend to leave strings behind.) The goal is to have clean, dry nail beds so the polish sticks properly.

Step 5: Apply a base coat to prevent staining. (Try a bonder base coat if you’re really prone to chipping.)

Step 6: To the lacquers! Starting at your pointer finger, paint nails in three strokes only: left, center and right. Two tips: 1) Don't worry about getting polish on your surrounding skin, as it will peel off beautifully in the shower the next day, and 2) leave your thumbs for last, just in case there are any major edge mistakes you need to adjust right away.

Step 7: Wait at least two minutes. Brush on your second coat and finish with a final swipe along the edge of the each nail to seal in color and prevent chips.

Step 8: Again, wait two minutes, and apply a shiny topcoat. Then let those suckers dry--for real. Fight the urge to tap away on your phone, futz with your makeup or do anything that could endanger the time you just spent. Need to get out the door faster? Dunk nails into a bowl of ice-filled water.

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