A Quick-and-Dirty Guide to Doing Your Nails like a Pro

You probably learned how to paint your nails when you were young and now it’s just another part of the routine.

The real passion for nail polish is a fire that burns bright when we’re young and just learning how to paint your nails. That was when it was fun and new.  

Remember when you were little, and you seized that first bottle of nail polish off the shelf and begged your mom to buy it? The prospect of learning how to paint your nails was a new adventure you were ready to tackle.


That's not the end of the story, though:

little boy riding on an alien specie

As we grow up, people start going to nail salons instead of painting their own nails.

It saves time, effort, and usually lasts a lot longer than a home manicure. However, it’s also way more expensive and can really add up over time.

Why should you go to a salon when you could just learn how to paint your own nails?

It all comes down to personal choice in the end. You might not have time to paint your nails, but you still want to look put together.


​If you have a desire to mix things up and have fun with your nails, you might want to perfect the art of the home manicure. Then you’ll have the ability to change things up whenever you want.

What could be better than that?

A simple home manicure can keep your nails safe because it's very simple.

Plus. you can remove it easily and change it up whenever you want.

That’s the best thing about learning how to paint your nails properly. You have total control, and you can do whatever you want!

Perfectly manicured nails are part of that.


​Manicured Nails Have Been a Trend Forever

different colored Nail polishes with other equipment needed for nail designs

Well, almost forever.

Let’s be honest here:

Painted nails have been a part of fashion since before you can remember.

Since before any of us can remember.

So where did it all begin?

man raising his right hand and left hand on thumbs up

You might be surprised to learn:

Men and women have been painting their nails since the Bronze Age, at least as far as we know.

Rumor is, it began in Asia and spread all around the world. Some even say that Cleopatra loved a dark rust red color. They also say she was the first Egyptian to paint just her nails, rather than her whole hand.

surprised expression of a woman

The reason men and women both colored their nails in the past, was because it was a sign of their status. However, painting or coloring nails was specifically for high class or people who generally had money to burn.

It was not affordable or efficient to do a home manicure until Revlon launched the first colored lacquer in 1932.

In fact:

Technically Cutex released the first red nail polish, but it was only one color. Revlon stepped up the game by mimicking car paint and came out with an array of color options. Before anyone knew it, women were able to go from plain old clear polishes to an entire rainbow of possibilities.

different designs and colors of polished nails

By the 1980s they had an incredible variety to choose from, including neon. You can even check it out an old advertisement here if you’re curious.

These steps in history are significant for nail polish. They changed the nail game once and for all.

And it isn't even over yet.

But at least you have a few fun facts to tell someone the next time you’re painting their nails.

You could even check out this video for more fun facts about the history of nail polish:




​To Get Your Nails Done or Not...That Is the Question

What’s the point in decorating your nails?

At least, that’s the question many people have when they never bothered to try it out. After all, it serves no apparent purpose. It wears off easily. There’s no rule that says you have to paint your nails because you’re a girl.

woman who doesn't want to be bothered

So, why bother?

Well, it’s all personal preference.

I’m not going to tell you that you should or shouldn’t paint your nails. Just because I enjoy painting my own nails, it doesn’t mean that I want to spend money at a salon. It’s relaxing to paint them myself, and it takes my mind off of other things.

On the other hand:

Many people hate doing their nails and hate getting them done.

Although, that doesn’t mean they don’t love how it looks in the end. The finished product usually makes it all worth it.


It can be a confidence boost some people need.

Think about it:

Matching the perfect outfit with the perfect nail color is an art form of its own and learning how to paint your nails can be therapeutic and relaxing.

elegantly dressed woman walking in the library

Getting them done in a salon can actually have some physical benefits. The nail technician will massage lotion into your skin and help improve circulation in your hands. Possibly even relieving discomfort.

You should learn how to paint your nails if it makes you happy and you think it will be a fun new hobby.

Maybe it helps you relax, gives you confidence, or you love the way it looks. 

No matter what the reason might be, you should go for it.


​Everything You Need to Know About Nail Grooming

Even if you aren’t interested in learning how to paint your nails, you should learn how to groom them properly because nail health is crucial.

No, seriously:

Nails are more delicate than you might think.

think giphy

​​​​I know all about it because I have very thin and weak nails. There isn’t much I can do with them because they split or crack easily. I can’t even use them to open an eyeshadow compact sometimes when it’s brand new.

Now, before you assume that it must be because I paint my nails all the time, or otherwise damage them, I want to say that is definitely not the case.

Most of the time, I only paint my nails for a night out. Any other time is just for fun.

​However, having thin nails also means that they flex. The flexibility leads to chipping and cracking the nail polish. So whenever I paint my nails, it never lasts very long.​​​​

woman polishing her nails with black nail polish

Therefore, I don’t paint my nails enough to damage them. I just need to take better care of them and promote nail health if I want to be able to paint them more often.

That’s the dream anyway.

Before you learn how to paint your nails, you need to learn how to take care of your nails.

We have a few tips for you.


The steps to nail grooming


  • Clean off any old nail polish: old nail polish will just chip away slowly. Use nail polish remover on a cotton ball to get rid of the excess polish.
  • Soak your hands in warm water: this will help soften your cuticles and allow you to clean around your nails. Then you can gently push back your cuticles.
  • Trim and shape your nails: trim your nails if you need to, but it’s preferable to file them down. Just always remember that you should not be sawing back and forth. You should only file in one direction to prevent damage.
  • Apply your favorite hand cream: instead of waiting till the end of the manicure, make sure to apply your favorite hand cream at this stage. That will reduce the chances of messing up your manicure in the end.
  • Wipe your nails with witch hazel: by using witch hazel, you can get rid of any oils from the lotion. You could use nail polish remover again, but it’s better to keep that to a minimum. Using nail polish remover all the time isn’t great for the health of your nails because it will dry them out.
  • After this, you can move on to the manicure, if you’re interested. You don’t have to. Still, if you are interested, we will be covering the steps of a manicure later on.
  • Use cuticle oil last: it will help hydrate your cuticles and keep your nails healthy. Even if you choose to skip nail polish, you should still use cuticle oil regularly. It will keep your cuticles soft and moisturized.

Choosing the right nail shape

person painting the toe nails with red nail polish

Choosing the right nail shape is something you need to do before you start your manicure. Learning to shape your nails if something you should do before you learn how to paint your nails.

Even if you’re getting a manicure done in a salon, they’re going to ask what shape you want.


Keep in mind:

man saying keep in mind

You might want to go to the salon armed with a picture of the nail style you want. Then you can cut out the confusing explanation process of your salon trip.

Trust me, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I was going for a simple design with a classic shape...and I ended up with square nails and Christmas colors.

It was terrible, but a good learning experience.

Attempting to explain the shape you want can be difficult. So a visual guide is a little easier to follow.

If you’d like to check out different nail shapes, check out the video below!


​How to Promote Nail Growth and Prevent Damage

When it comes to nails, there are plenty of things that can go wrong.

We take them for granted all the time.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my nails, but then again, I don’t have naturally strong nails.

What about you?

It makes me extremely jealous of my husband's nails. He doesn’t have to do anything, and they’re practically bulletproof.

So not fair.

man breaks down into crying

Even if you don’t have strong nails, it isn’t out of reach for any of us. We only have to take a few extra steps to achieve our goal.


          ​Nail polish that can save your nails

You may have heard that nail polish, acrylic nails, or gel nails are only going to destroy your natural nails. They contain chemicals that can dry out your nail beds or seal them off so they can’t breathe. 

So, what's the problem?

you have a problem giphy

Well, that can also lead to infections, breaking, or cracking.

Sounds familiar?

If so, there are a few saving graces that can be a huge help.

Check it out:

check it out giphy

If you haven’t heard of nail strengthening polishes, it might be time to check them out. Various brands make them, including OPI, Essie, and many more. The thing they have in common is the fact that they work best over time. But only if you keep up with them.

In some cases, that can mean that you should apply a new coat every day for a week. Then you will remove all the layers and start over. Most people found a huge difference in their nails after keeping up with a strengthening polish for a month or more.


​Biotin for bulletproof nails

​Biotin could be a fantastic option if you have weak nails. Learning how to paint your nails is much easier if your nails are healthy.

Before we go any further:

before we go any further, I'm celibate giphy

Well, that can also lead to infections, breaking, or cracking.

Sounds familiar?

If so, there are a few saving graces that can be a huge help.

You should ask your doctor before trying a biotin supplement. A doctor will be able to tell you how much you should take and whether you need to take it at all. It can also depend on any other medications you are taking and whether you have any illnesses, such as diabetes.

why don't we ask your doctor giphy

​Back to what I was saying:

Women typically need a little extra help or a higher dosage than men and children. So there is a good chance that Biotin could be an excellent option for you.

You see, your body produces keratin to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy and strong. If your body isn’t producing enough keratin, all three of those aspects of your body can suffer. In turn, that can cause your nails to become thin and breakable.

Biotin can help strengthen your nails from the inside out.


​​   Stop biting your nails for good

Biting your nails is a habit that usually starts early in life. It can ruin your nails, especially if you continue into adulthood.

That's not the worst of it:

this is the worst giphy

It isn't an attractive habit, and it can make learning how to paint your nails pretty pointless if you're only going to ruin them anyway.

For many people, it is something they do when they are anxious. It’s sort of a form of unintentional self-harm. You won’t see it that way when you’re doing it, but if you manage to kick the habit it will become clear over time. It was only causing lasting damage.

I also used to bite my nails when I was younger.

It's true:

that's true giphy

Up until I was about 12 years old. Eventually, I kicked the habit and now the idea of biting my nails makes my teeth hurt.

I could never go back and you shouldn’t either.

Although, for many people, it’s a bad habit that they can’t kick without a little help. You might even consider a bad tasting nail polish. While it doesn't make it impossible to bite your nails.

However, it will make you think about what you’re doing if you are intentionally trying to kick your bad habit.


              Different Nail Polish Options For Your Home Manicure

If you are just beginning to learn how to paint your nails, you might be surprised how many different options are at your fingertips.

Good news:

man earnestly praying giphy

Nail polish possibilities are endless.

Picking a gorgeous nail polish can make learning how to paint your nails much more satisfying.

However, it also needs to be easy to use.

But where do you start?

let's get this started now giphy

Well, we want to give you the best options for a home manicure. Some are better than others when you’re just learning how to paint your nails.

Others might be a better option for advanced users. Such as the people who have been using basic lacquer for their entire lives and want to expand their options.

​Classic nail polish is beautiful

Classic nail polish is the best place to start if you are only learning how to paint your nails.

It is the type of nail polish you can just brush on and wait for it to dry. While it can be a little time consuming, it's also easy and you don't need anything extra. But there are so many different options out there. There are so many different brands, colors, and types of classic nail polish.


​​Types of classic nail polish

woman painting her finger nails with red heart shaped nail polish

Creme

​Creme polish is one solid color. No sparkle or shimmer. Good creme polish should only require one or two coats to create a flawless finish.

​Shimmer

​Shimmer nail polish is usually sheer and may require a color base coat of white or black to stand out.

​Glitter

​Glitter polish is made up of large discernable sparkles. They are usually added to a clear polish and used on top of a colored base.

​Chrome /metallic

​Chrome nails are all the rage these days and there are a bunch of different brands of chrome polish on the market.

​Matte

​If you’re tired of a classic shiny finish, you could try matter polish. You could even put a matte top coat over a shiny polish if you can’t find the perfect color.

​Gel

​There are brush-on gel polishes that don’t require a UV lamp. They aren’t true gel polish by any means. Using them will not give you the same durable, long-lasting finish. But they are typically thicker and might only need one coat. Keep in mind that they will also need to dry like classic nail polish.

​  Important note about gel polish

Gel polish is a little more complicated than regular polish.

super gel nail polish in different colors

Here's how:

It’s applied in the same way, but you have to be very careful around the edges. That’s why it may not be the best option if you are just learning how to paint your nails. It calls for more of a skilled hand.

That being said:

It is a more reliable manicure choice if you’re interested in a style that will last. There is less of a chance that it will chip right away.

Still, keep in mind that it won’t hold up much better if you work with your hands a lot. If you do, you might need to consider getting your nails done at a salon. They might have durable options that will last a little longer.


​The Basic Steps to a Home Manicure

News flash:

There are plenty of different choices when it comes to a home manicure, even if you are just learning how to paint your nails.

polishing finger nails with silver blue nail polish

No, seriously.

You could stick to a classic polish for a basic manicure if you’re just learning how to paint your nails. It’s the most straightforward choice, so we are going to cover it first before we move on to a gel manicure.


​​Steps for a classic manicure

​1

​Remove any existing polish.

​2

​Push back your cuticles.

​3

​File your nails to the desired shape.

​4

​Moisturize your hands and wipe any oil off your nails with witch hazel.

​5

​Apply a base coat and allow it to dry completely

​6

​Apply two coats of the polish of your choice, allowing it to dry between each coat.

​7

​Then the last step is to apply a quick dry top coat and let it dry too.

​8

​Go around the edges of your nail with a small makeup brush dipped in nail polish remover. It will clear away any mess ups like a dream.

​9

​Make sure you allow your manicure to dry for at least 15 minutes. If you’re using a new polish that should be plenty of time. Old polishes may not set properly.

10

​Apply cuticle oil and massage it in.

Watch the video below to learn more:


​Steps for a gel manicure

woman looking at her beautifully painted red finger nails

​Image by: ​picjumbo_com​​​

​1

​Remove any existing polish.

​2

​Push back your cuticles.

​3

​File your nails to the desired shape.

​4

​Moisturize your hands and wipe any oil off your nails with witch hazel.

​5

​Apply a gel base coat and place your nails under a UV lamp for a minute or as long as the base coat directs.

​6

​Make sure to use a makeup brush to clear away any mess ups before you place your hands under the lamp. If it gets on your skin, it will not seal properly and could peel up around the edges easily.

​7

​Apply two coats of polish, placing your hands under the lamp between each coat.

​8

​Finish off with a gel top coat and use the lamp to cure your nails one last time.

​9

​Massage cuticle oil into your cuticles after you’re finished with your manicure.


​Watch the following video for a visual aid:


​​​Learning How to Paint Your Nails: The Pro Tips

Once you have the basics mastered, you’re ready to take your manicure to the next level.

Before you do, pay close attention to these pro tips for a successful manicure.

Learning how to paint your nails is easy.

Taking it over the top with sparkles, designs, or even an accent nail is a fantastic way to spice things up a little.

So, let's begin:

let's begin giphy

​Accent nails are fantastic

finger nails with pink nail polish giphy

If you want to add a pop of color to match your outfit, an accent nail is a beautiful way to do just that.

It doesn’t even have to match your outfit. You can mix it up any way you’d like. 


Do this:

So consider playing around with glitter, metallic polish, another solid color, or even a design. Whatever you’re in the mood for.

okay let's do it giphy

​        Glitter and glam for a beautiful look

let me explain giphy

Glitter nail polish is a tricky business.

Lucky for you, there is a trick to fishing out the sparkles, without having to do a billion layers.

Let me explain:

All you have to do is apply a generous amount of glitter polish to a makeup sponge.

The sponge will soak up the majority of the clear polish, leaving the glitter behind. That will allow you to dab the sparkles onto your nail in one application. Then you can apply a top coat to smooth everything over.

​Merely brushing the glitter polish on will give a scattered effect, which can also be a lovely addition to a manicure. That could be a little extra glitz, without going over the top.

You can also try this:

Go to a craft store and buy extra fine loose glitter.

Put newspaper on your table, sprinkle the glitter on top of a clear coat, and then finish them off with another clear coat over the glitter.

ok I'll give it a try giphy

​Nail vinyl can be cool too

If you want to add a simple design like stripes or a french tip, it’s time to bust out the nail vinyl.

Before you jump in and start using them as I did once upon a time, you need to know some handy tips.

So, here you go:

First of all, nail vinyls are basically like stickers for your nails. 

first of all giphy

All you have to do is stick them to your nails in the places you don’t want to add any color. As though you are masking off trim when you’re painting a wall in your home. Just...on a much smaller surface area.

Don't forget:

please dont forget giphy

Only apply the nail vinyls after your manicure is done.

That includes the top coat.

If you don’t apply them over a dry top coat, you could peel up the existing color and ruin the whole masterpiece.

Once they are stuck in place, you can paint over them.

Make sure that you carefully pull off the nail vinyls as soon as you are done adding the design. You want the paint to be wet when you do, for a smooth edge.

Otherwise, you will pull up at the edges of your lines, and you won’t be able to smooth it over with top coat.


​​​​             Stamping can be a fun way to show off your nails

If you haven’t tried it before, it might be time to consider a stamping kit.

Here's what you need to know:

You might love nail art, but it can be impossible to freehand matching designs on both hands, or even one hand for that matter. If you aren't a professional, there is a good chance that you will end up looking like a 5-year-old did your nail art.

That'd be unfortunate:

woman made a mistake giphy

All you have to do is stick them to your nails in the places you don’t want to add any color. As though you are masking off trim when you’re painting a wall in your home. Just...on a much smaller surface area.

Stamping isn’t a great choice for newbies, but everything takes time to learn. So even if you are just learning how to paint your nails, you should give it a shot, especially if it's the end goal anyway.

You'll need the following:

A rubber stamper, stamping polish, and your favorite designs on a metal stamping plate.

If you’re interested in learning more, including what to do and what not to do, you should check out this fun tutorial.



​​​​​Getting Your Nails Done in a Salon

If you don’t want a basic manicure, it might be time to face the facts and take a trip to a nail salon.

It's okay, it happens.

woman saying it's okay giphy

Learning how to paint your nails is pretty simple and straightforward.

If you follow the steps you won’t have a problem, but there are some things that you shouldn’t try at home unless you are a nail technician. That includes acrylic nails.

There are a lot of new products on the market that are supposed to help you do your own acrylic nails. You could try them if you’re ambitious, but they may not offer the best results.

Instead of potentially ruining your nails for a big event, you should probably find a certified nail technician in your area. Make sure to check out the reviews for the nail salon before you go. There are plenty of dirty salons that don’t follow hygiene protocols like they’re supposed to.

That’s a great place to pick up a fungus or a nail infection.

Talk about gross.

No matter what, if you’re on the search for artificial nails that will last a few weeks, you need to seek out the best nail salon in your area and prepare to fork over some cash. It isn't cost effective all the time, but it’s what I do for big events, such as weddings.

Don't be afraid to get some help if you want to look perfect for a night, or a few weeks. It can be so much fun to learn how to paint your nails, but feel free to treat yourself sometimes too.



​How to Remove Acrylic Nails

​If you do decide to get artificial nails, you will eventually need to remove them.

Trust me, it’s not fun when they grow out and look weird.

Luckily:

You can hop on back to the nail salon and get them filled in, but regardless they will have to come off someday.

Either when you’re tired of paying to get them redone or when your nails just can’t take it anymore.

Your nails will definitely need a break at some point.

girl saying don't forget giphy

When you reach that point, it will be time to bust out the acetone and get to work.

You will need:

  • ​100 percent pure acetone (no exceptions!)
  • ​Cotton balls
  • ​Tin foil
  • ​A nail file
  • ​Nail clippers
  • ​Cuticle pusher
  • 1
    ​First, you need to clip the end of the artificial nail all the way down to the point where your natural nail begins.
  • 2
    ​Then use your file to rough up the surface of the artificial nail until there is no shiny top coat.
  • 3
    ​Soak the cotton in acetone and place it on the top of each nail.
  • 4
    ​Wrap tin foil around the cotton on your nails and leave them in place for 30 minutes.
  • 5
    ​At this point, the artificial nail should be breaking apart and have a gummy consistency.
  • 6
    ​Scrape off the gross gummy stuff off.
  • 7
    ​Then soak them again if you need to remove more gunk.
  • 8
    ​By the end there should be nothing left and your natural nails will be back again.

However, there is a very good chance your nails will feel thin and brittle. My nails were an absolute wreck the two times I got them done. But they will get back to normal eventually.

Check out the video below for reference.


​​​Choosing Colors to Match Your Outfit

​If you struggle with coordinating your outfits, I can imagine adding nail colors to the equation might seem a bit daunting.

But have no fear! 

Color-blocking is simple to understand. You don’t need your nails to match your outfit, they just shouldn’t clash. 

Color-blocking is a fantastic way to find colors that are different but go well together.

Opposites attract right?

opposite attraction giphy

In order to choose a nail color with color-blocking, you’ll need to refer to a color wheel.

different color palette to choose from

​Choose opposite colors, or at least colors on the opposite side of the chart. They don’t need to be directly across from each other.

For example:

You could try wearing a navy dress and yellow nails. A red dress with navy nails. Even a teal dress with orange nails. Whatever catches your eye.

Just keep in mind that there are no rules.

Always experiment with your style and take chances. You might find something new that you love. But you’ll only find it if you step outside your comfort zone once in a while.



​Rock Your Home Manicures: Nobody Will Be Able to Tell You Skipped the Salon

​​​

Take a chance, learn how to paint your nails in a new way. You don’t have to stick to the same thing every time.

Quite simply:

If you want a long-lasting manicure, try acrylic nails or a gel manicure. 

If you want a new design, try your hand at stamping.

Got it?

You don’t have to stick to the same colors, style, or design that has always made you comfortable.

Don't be afraid to try new things or think outside the box.

don't be afraid to know, really get into it giphy

Dare to be yourself and express that through your nails.

It might be small, but it also might that little boost of confidence you’ve been looking for.

It’s worth a try, right?

Now it's time to learn how to paint your nails and have fun with it.


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