How to Apply Nail Polish Correctly

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Learn how to apply nail polish evenly and flawlessly
Learn how to apply nail polish evenly and flawlessly (Image: commons.wikimedia.org)

If you've never applied nail polish before or you've experimented with it and were unhappy with your results, try these steps the next time you want to change the color of your nails. Use new or relatively new nail polish to avoid getting an uneven or streaky finish. Practice with sheer foolproof colors at first and use dark and opaque colors once you've developed more confidence.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Nail polish remover
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Clear base coat
  • Colored nail polish
  • Clear top coat
  • Orange stick

Prepare your nails for the polish. With cotton balls or a cotton pad soaked in nail polish remover, remove all traces of old nail polish. Cut your nails to the length you desire. Use a nail file to smooth away any rough edges or points on your nails.

Apply a clear base coat to protect your nails from staining and to help the nail polish go on smoothly. Prop your hand on the tabletop or countertop as a remedy for an unsteady hand. If you are painting your toenails, prop your hand on the floor by your foot, which should be flat on the floor--rather than tilted upwards. Begin applying color on your smallest nail and work your way in the direction of your thumb or big toe; this will reduces the chance you might lean on wet nail polish as you work.

Mix your colored nail polish thoroughly by rolling the bottle between both hands instead of shaking it. Shaking produces air bubbles that might show up when you apply the nail polish.

Unscrew the cap of the nail polish and wipe one side of the brush on the edge of the bottle, allowing excess polish to go back into the bottle. Apply a stripe of color down the middle of your nail, from cuticle to tip. Follow this with color on either side of the stripe. This keeps most of the nail polish on the center of your nail rather than on the corners, where it can drip off of the side of your finger. When you are finished painting all your nails, repeat the process for a second coat of nail polish, which will even out your application.

Top your colored nail polish with a protective clear top coat. This prolongs the life of your polish and prevents it from chipping.

Wrap a small piece of cotton tightly around the tip of an orange stick. Dip this into nail polish remover and clean up any messes by going over bits of skin speckled with nail polish. Allow nails to dry before subjecting them to any activity that may scratch or wipe off the polish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paint your nails near an open window or door to provide adequate ventilation.

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