How to Paint Like A Pro – Polish Perfection 101


If you are anything like me to get a good manicure result at home, painting your nails really is the main obstacle in the whole process. My polish painting beginnings were not the greatest, I spent most of late teens with uneven thick polish which bubbled on my nails, endless smudging, chipping and peeling and generally terrible looking nails. I had already committed all the deadly sins of truly awful manicures.

Since those days my skills have improved immensely, I have made leaps and bounds and my mani’s don’t look like they have been applied by a small child anymore. Thank God!

I was inspired to write this post through some general chats with friends where the topic of nails and manicures cropped up and noted how they all complained of the same polish application issues in their routine. In fact I had kinda covered the same ground in nail related conversations with slightly different groups of friends, a number of times over. It’s practically a girlie version of Groundhog Day and I’m the nail enthusiast version of Bill Murray!

I thought looking back these nail painting dilemmas, they were really the opposite of isolated one off dodgy rushed polish painting episodes. They ultimately were all down to lacking in polish application know how. That was problem and also the solution! Why was something so simple, so difficult to get right? It got me thinking, we need to go back to nail polish basics!

I am like a broken record these days, I can’t stress enough preparation and good polish application in making the difference in your manicure. Applying polish onto nails any old how is a recipe for disaster. Careful and even application is really your best bet.




With that in mind, here are all my best tips in this cheat sheet for painting polish in your manicures, so you can achieve the best DIY manicure at home. I will also include tips on how to paint your awkward non dominant hand, the last hurdle that I only got the knack for myself recently.



The first stage – Prep – before painting your nails


Ensure all these basics are done!

1) File, shape and buff your nails
2) Remove colour and/or staining
3) Cuticle work/ remove any nail surface texture
4) Ensure your nail bed is squeaky clean and free from oil/fluff/lint/dust


Before you proceed to application, check your chosen nail polish shade is good to go in your manicure i.e. Not too thick or gloopy. Thinner may be needed to restore your polish back to its original consistency.

Check that your polish brush will work with your nail bed shape i.e. Is your brush narrow/wide or long/short? How much polish does your brush hold? You may need to consider these factors in how you go about applying your polish.




I would advise painting your nails on a table or flat surface to help steady your hands, this is essential when painting your non dominant hand! I would also advise giving yourself plenty of time if you can. If it’s a job worth doing, do it properly!





Painting your Polish – 10 steps to Polish Perfection


1) Start your manicure by applying your chosen base product and allow to dry
2) Load your brush with the amount of colour polish you need for your nail (wipe any excess on the bottle neck of your polish)

Too little polish on your brush generally leads to extra polish strokes, possible streaking, or too thin/ thick polish layers.

Do this step for each stroke of polish you use on your nail, remembering to wipe off excess in between. Remember to keep your polish layers as thin and even as you can so it drys properly.

3) Apply your first stroke of polish in the centre of your nail, stop a millimetre or 2 away from cuticle then push slightly towards the cuticle and then pull back towards the tip of your nail. This first stroke will cover the middle section of your nail.
4) Then paint a stroke on left side of the middle section
5) Then paint a stroke on the right side of the middle section
6) Finish by capping the free edge of your nail.
7) Allow to dry
8) Repeat steps 2-6 for a second coat of colour polish
9) Allow to dry
10) Finish by applying a top coat, don’t forget to cap the free edge! Allow your nails to completely dry.




Tips for painting your nails using your non dominant hand



Let your dominant hand do the moving! Pull your nail away from the brush, almost like the reverse of a normal polish stroke, remembering to cap the free edge.
Tilt your dominant hand left and right to help keep your non dominant hand steady whilst painting. This will keep your strokes even and will help avoid flooding of your cuticles and having to tidy around cuticles.
• If you do make a mess, tidy around the cuticle with a cotton bud or nail art brush with acetone, removing the excess on a piece of kitchen roll beforehand.  If you tend to make alot of mistakes, try applying moisturiser beforehand, then you can wipe mistakes off before they dry.
• Finish your manicure with nail oil to hydrate your nails.


I hope this post helps anyone with any nail painting dilemmas. I wished I had been able to read blog posts or magazine articles like this when I was commiting some serious manicure faux pas back in the day! Thank God for the internet and forums like this!



If anyone else would like to share any tips or tricks with painting nails or painting your non dominant hand, please leave them down in the Comments section below.

It’s amazing how many tips and tricks I find this way and I’m sure other users will find it useful!