For Allure, by Maddie Aberman.
Getting a manicure is a nice treat, but for numerous reasons (like cost or time or laziness), many of us prefer painting our nails at home. Some people even find painting their own nails relaxing, especially if they're doing it while binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls (or maybe that's just me). Regardless, it's something so many people do but only a few people do well. So to help you hone your skills, we rounded up four hacks to make your DIY manicure look like a salon-quality job.
Gain control. It doesn't matter whether you're a righty or a lefty, painting with your nondominant hand is about as challenging as texting with your eyes closed. No matter what I do, one hand looks beautiful and the other looks like a two-year-old did it. While I was getting a manicure recently at Van Court Studio in New York City, manicurist Lisa Lee told me a hack I'd never heard before: She recommended that when you're painting with your nondominant hand, you move the hand you're painting rather than the hand holding the polish brush. It might sound strange, but it makes sense. You have much more control of your dominant hand so you can more easily move it steadily in tiny increments. Unless you're ambidextrous--in which case I'm guessing a lot of things come easier to you--this might help you achieve a cleaner manicure.
Speaking of clean.... I arrived at the salon wearing a deep-burgundy shade, which is notorious for being a pain in the you-know-what to remove. To remove a majority of the polish, Lee first went in with acetone and a cotton pad, but just as it normally does, the bold shade lingered around my cuticles. So Lee grabbed a disposable mascara wand. Yes, the little plastic ones you can buy supercheaply in bulk. She dipped the bristles in remover and ran it back and forth over the edges of my nails. The stiff bristles got in every nook and cranny, and in a matter of seconds, my nails were completely clean.
Get a no-hassle pedicure. This tip comes straight from the brain of an Allure staffer. Painting your toes can be hard. Partly because it's weird and partly because by the time you've meticulously painted your fingernails, you've run out of steam. To simplify the process, apply your toenail polish with slapdash abandon, then let it dry overnight. In the morning, hop into a warm shower and watch as any dried polish on your cuticles rinses away with your deep conditioner. You'll be left with a professional-looking at-home pedi with close to zero effort.
And make sure to elevate. Another Allure staffer, beauty assistant Kat Suico, shared her tip for an easier manicure. You know those vanity caps that come on the tops of bottles from brands like Smith & Cult, Butter London, and Marc Jacobs? It's easier to grasp the handle by removing the bulky cap, but that doesn't mean you should lose it altogether. Suico uses it as a stand on which to rest the current finger she's painting. It gives her more control and guarantees that no fingers collide while the polish is still wet.
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