Even though I have decades of practice painting my own nails, I certainly lack the expertise to paint without error. Let's face it: There are so many annoying things that can go wrong when you paint your own nails. If that weren't the case, there wouldn't be a nail salon on every block. Still, with shaky hands, zero patience, and only 75 percent effort, I sometimes manage to paint my nails with the conviction of a pro and get plenty of compliments on a job well done. Fortunately, those decades of experience have given me a foolproof strategy to do my own nails without looking like it's my first time... once I've cleaned up the massacre of paint on my skin anyways.
Keeping your manicure in tact, however, is a whole different story. As a bartender/maid to my roommate, I'm constantly washing glasses and using harsh chemicals with my hands. My hands are what most of my bar patrons are checking out as they watch me make their cocktails and when it looks like I've been rocking the same mani since '97, I can't help, but feel a little self-conscious. My eyes are up here, buddy! Quit looking at my crappy nails. The length of time you can enjoy your at-home manicure seems like it has a 24-hour cap.
Here are all the things that can go wrong when you paint your own nails, plus some life lessons for nail polish lovers that will help your next mani last at least through the weekend.
1. You'll Experience Stained Nail Syndrome
Oh great, just when you decided to try white nail polish, your nails are stained with the neon blue shade you tested last week. Sounds like it's time to invest in a sturdy base coat! The bottom coat prevents your nails from staining and it will keep the colorful polish lasting longer. According to Good Housekeeping, the base coat is an important barrier between your nail and your future polish. All salons use one, so you should too.
2. You'll End Up With Raggedy Cuticles
Your cuticles will likely never look as good as after a pro manicure, but one thing you can definitely shouldn't do at home is cut them. Here's the thing: Cutting your cuticles is purely for aesthetic purposes. It's not necessary for keeping your polish on longer or for the health of your nail. According to sources at Huffington Post, you should avoid cutting cuticles during a mani because they protect the adjoining skin from infection. Instead, gently push your cuticles back with a cuticle pusher.
3. Your Hands Look Like You've Thrown Paint On Them & Most Of It Happened To Land On Your Nails
Fortunately, there are only a few people who've actually witnessed me painting my nails. My hands are so shaky that it looks like I'm purposely painting my skin. Years ago, however, I found Precision Q-tips and realized that I could fool everyone into thinking that my hands were as steady as a surgeon's. Now I just dip the pointy cotton swab in a little remover and wipe away the rogue polish from my skin.
4. Your Polished Nails Develop Mysterious Bubbles
Dear nail bubbles: WHO ARE YOU AND WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?! This is what goes through my head every time I think I've finished painting my nails only to notice an evil bubble lying underneath an otherwise perfectly polished nail. According to Sally Beauty, using old polish could be the reason for nail bubbles. Make sure your nail polish isn't old and thick, and definitely don't shake it to mix the formula. You can roll the bottle in your hands instead to prevent those pesky bubbles.
5. Your Bottom Coat Doesn't Go On Smoothly
After buffing, filing, and sighing that I'm still doing nail maintenance, I'm ready to put on my base coat and get this mani party started. You'll want to wash your hands before applying a base coat to remove nail dust from filing/buffing and any oils that you applied for nail growth or strength. I actually use nail polish remover before my base coat instead of washing because my soaps tend to have loads of oils in them. This will also further help avoid bubbles under your polish.
6. You Realize That "Easy" Nail Tutorial Was Actually For Experts
If you've failed at YouTube nail tutorials, you are not alone. Here's why they are harder than those fishtail braid tutorials: You are painting your nails, they are getting wet, so rewinding or having to get up to get an unforeseeable nail tool will have you frustrated in no time. My advice? Watch the tutorial first and then try to do your own nails without the vid. No need to give up completely — those precision tips work on nail polish too!
7. Your Instant Dry Top Coat Actually Takes 15 Minutes
I can't count how many times I've been duped into buying an instant-dry top coat that takes forever to dry. I will wait about one full minute before I get incredibly antsy and have a sudden urgency to take out the trash or do anything else I have no business doing with wet nails. I've given up thinking I can sit still while my nails dry, which means my top coat game needs to be top notch. Don't purchase blindly in-store based on packaging because clearly, we all have different definitions of instant. Instead read reviews. Personally, I like Sally Hansen's Diamond Flash or Seche Vite's Dry Fast.
8. And You Realize Blowing On Your Nails Will Never Work
Take a lesson from me: Just get all your crap done before you start your nails. Get some water, go to the bathroom, and queue up some jams, because the only thing safe to do is dance while fanning your nail polish dry at the same time. There really is no quick fix for a perfect dry, so just make sure you aren't polishing 15 minutes before you have to run out the door.
9. Your Nail Polish Chips After Only An Hour
All that hard work, down the drain. Having too much polish on your nails can mean your polish will be chipping super fast or your top coat needs to be reevaluated. When you get to the end of the bottle of your favorite top coat, it can be tempting to apply multiple layers. This will only have your nails chipping faster than you can say "Look, I did my nails myself!"
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (10)