9 Actually Useful At-Home Manicure Tips

by Miki Hayes

Manicures: something we all do basically without even thinking about it. I know the only real thought I ever put into mine is choosing what color to paint my nails. And the only effort I put in is to color within the lines. Honestly, it's something we learn in kindergarten... so why is it so hard? Well I've found the lack of thought and effort I put into this task only results in shoddy manicures that never last as long as I want them to. But there are ways to get a neater, more durable manicure while keeping your nails healthier, to boot.

Of course, the easy solution to get a perfect mani (or, at least, close to perfect) is to head to a salon. But we aren't all made of time and money here! For those weeks (or months... or years...) when you have to skip the professional job, there really are a few simple ways you can make your at-home mani way higher quality. I know you think your dominant hand is doomed to sloppy cuticle-covering polish forever... but it's not. Promise. Here are some tips to step up your nail game:

1. Know The Opacity

If the bottle isn't sealed, open it up at the drugstore and wipe the brush against the inside of the neck. See how the color looks against the glass to know how sheer or opaque the color is.

2. Be Patient

If you can, avoid quick-dry nail polish as much as possible. The formula tends to dry out nails along with the polish itself. Dehydrated nails are definitely not a girl's best friend.

3. Single File

File your nails in one direction rather than back and forth to prevent your nails from splitting and cracking.

4. Push, Don't Cut

Cutting your cuticles is basically creating open wounds that are prone to infection. If you really can't stand the sight of your cuticles, push them back after first softening them with an oil, cream, or even a hot shower.

5. Roll, Don't Shake

Avoid air bubbles in your polish (they'll cause a bumpy mani) by rolling the bottle vertically between your hands instead of shaking it.

6. Be All About That Base

A base coat will do wonders for your manicure. It will keep polish from dying your nails that horrifying yellow color while also holding onto that polish longer, extending the life of your mani. If laziness makes you choose between a base or top coat, make it a base every time.

7. Easy Cleanup

Simply dip an old lip or eyeliner brush in some nail-polish remover to clean up around the edges of your nails.

8. Embrace The Cold

Run your hands under cold water post-polish. This will help your nails dry faster. Hint: Lighter colors and metallic formulas dry faster than darker colors and cream formulas.

9. Glitter Bandage

Manicure starting to chip? Paint a glitter top coat over your nails. Glitter hides chips so you don't have to do your nails as frequently.

Tristan Fewings/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Yeah, show 'em off.

Images: Getty Images (2); Giphy (9)