12 At-Home Manicure Tips To Get Your Best Nails Ever, Because It's Way Easier Than You Think

Having freshly manicured nails is one of those major first-world problems we tend to face. Regularly going to a salon to have your nails professionally done gets expensive — quickly. But painting nails at home can be time consuming (and don't forget messy). Polish always takes too long to dry; we inevitably color outside the lines even though we learned not to in, like, kindergarten; and why oh why are our polka dots always different sizes? But as they say, where there's a will, there's a way. And in this case, the ways are a variety of hacks that make achieving the perfect manicure at home so much simpler.

So instead of stressing over getting the edge of your DIY French manicure perfectly even, go ahead and spend a little more time choosing your colors. You can actually have a paint job dry in minutes instead of hours, you can have perfectly straight stripes, and you can easily remove any mistakes you might make. Regardless of what makes doing your nails more of a chore than a way to unwind, here are 12 tips and hacks to make your manicure work for you instead of the other way around.

1. Set Nails With Ice Water

If you need nails to dry quickly, try dunking them in some ice water or even running some cold water from the tap over them. The cold will penetrate the layers to harden them so you don't have to worry about getting funky imprints in your polish.

2. Make Your Own Dotting Tool

To make your own dotting tool, all you have to do is stick a pin into the eraser of a pencil. Easy.

3. Set Nails with Oil

A spray oil like Pam will instantly set your manicure so it won't budge. Just make sure to not spray it too closely. Six to eight inches away should do the trick.

4. Glitter Solves Every Problem

If nail polish is growing out or chips, or if you have uneven nail art lines, simply paint a glitter top coat or line of glitter to hide it.

5. Protect Borders with Vaseline, Tape, Or Elmer's Glue

If you anticipate getting a little messy, protect the edges of your nails with vaseline, tape, or glue that can be peeled off the skin when you're done.

6. Use A Toothpick Or Bobby Pin As A Dotting Tool

If you don't want to make a dotting tool, just grab a toothpick or bobby pin. The tip of both work perfectly as an impromptu dotting tool.

7. Use Hole-Punch Reinforcements As A Half-Moon Mani Guide

Easily achieve a half-moon manicure by sticking hole-punch reinforcements at the base of your nails before painting.

8. Use The Tip Of A Bandage As A French Manicure Guide

For an easy French manicure, use the top end of a bandage as a guide. If you have a base color down, make sure to stick the bandage to the back of your hand a few times so that it does not stick too much to your nail color and rip it off when you remove the bandage.

9. Use A Makeup Sponge To Create Ombre Nail Art

Easily create ombre nail art by painting two or three shades on a makeup wedge, and stamping it on your nails. Make sure to dab the sponge around a bit so the colors blend seamlessly.

10. Use Tape To Create Perfect Lines

If you want to paint a design that has straight edges, tape is your go-to. Just make sure to stick it to the back of your hand a few times first to remove some of the tackiness so whatever color you already have on your nails doesn't stick to the tape when you remove it.

11. Easily Remove Glitter Polish With Aluminum Foil

If you avoid wearing glitter nail polish simply because it's a pain in the ass to remove, try this: Lay a cotton ball soaked with nail polish remover over the nail, wrap it with aluminum foil, and wait one or two minutes before removing. The polish should slide right off in one sheet. It really doesn't get easier than that.

12. Water Marbling Is Easier Than You Think

Although water marbling can look pretty intricate, it's actually just dropping nail polish into water. Here's how to master it in just six simple steps.

Images: Miki Hayes (12)