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How to paint your nails - this is something everyone knows how to do, right? Nope!

This is a skill I only recently learned how to do properly. I've never been too into painting my nails, but I think that was because I was going about it all wrong. ;)

After extensive months of googling, youtubing and practicing, I feel confident enough to share my nail painting knowledge. :D

Once you know how to paint your nails the right way you'll probably want to do it more often!
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Step 1: What you'll need:

Picture of what you'll need:
  • nail polish
  • clear top coat
  • fingernail clippers
  • cuticle trimmers/stick
  • a file
  • cotton swabs/rounds
  • nail polish remover
As far as nail polish, I really love Covergirl, Essie and Milani. They're the brands I use the most often. Sephora also has a nice line of polishes called Sephora by Opi.

Also, if you haven't tried glass files, you should! They last forever and work quickly. They're all I've used for the past few years. :)

Step 2: Tips for painting your nails

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Keep in mind that what you are about to do is going to take forever - give yourself at least an hour. Before you start this endeavor, do the following things:

  •     eat a snack
  •     use the restroom
  •     if you have long hair, tie it back
  •     make sure you have a nice beverage nearby
  •     find something to entertain you that won't require you to touch things
  •     convince your cats they are not allowed to help you paint your nails

Seriously. If I don't do these things I almost always mess up my nails by trying to accomplish these things. :D

This time was especially precarious due to camera operation.

It's also always best to paint your nails on a well lit, clean and flat surface. I never have any luck painting my nails when my hand is not resting on a flat surface. You get the wobbles, which leads to getting nail polish alllll over your finger.
Goodhart3 months ago
Tried 2 brands, and was a little sloppy around the cuticles, but then, this WAS a first try.
jessyratfink (author)  Goodhart2 months ago

Not too bad at all for the first try!! Love the color too :D

P.S. Good to see you around here!

Goodhart3 months ago
THANK YOU ! This has a lot more detail than what I was finding on youtube. Pics to follow
1BigKid1 year ago
Thank you! Great job, I can't wait to try this!
Great tips i love it!!!!
PennyPoet1 year ago
This is a great step-by-step description. I never thought of 3 coats before, but it's a good idea. And the tip about an initial clear coat before applying a dark nail polish is excellent - I hate those stains after removing the polish. Thank you ! I'm going to invest in a glass nail file 2moro.
hkstickney1 year ago
I just have to say, I really like the picture of the lady with the big red lips!!
jessyratfink (author)  hkstickney1 year ago
Haha, thank you! That's Mamaw. :D
gabbix1 year ago
" convince your cats they are not allowed to help you paint your nails " hahhaha so funny, but so true! It is also true for dogs :)
I loved your Instructable, big hug from Argentina to you and your lovely white cat!
plsera691 year ago
I was just wondering, does using binding help at all with chipping? I am deciding whether or not to purchase some. Thanks!
HI, yes, great information and good photos. I LOVE the OPI products. I begin with 'Chip Skip', and it realllllly makes a difference. In between the coats, I use another OPI product called, 'Drip Dry' drops put on with an eye dropper ( that comes with it), and within 5 minutes a second coat can be applied. And then with a top coat, my polish will last up to 10 days, with housework and yard work. Next time, I will try having my hand on a flat surface - that I haven't tired, and I do get some smudges on the edges. Lately I have been using a dark color with very fine glitter in it. (I use a base coat first, too), but the removal has been hard. However, I have found a very handy way to remove the polish. It requires 5 of the cotton swabs and 5 pieces of aluminum foil about 3 x 3 inches. Soak all of the swabs with remover and put one on each nail of one hand, and wrap each finger with the foil, making sure there is good contact with the nail. Wait at least 5 minutes, and remove, and it's like a fake nail coming off! Use the other side of the swab for the other hand. Very little touch up of remover in needed. Maybe you could make an instructable of this.
caityjay1 year ago
You have GORGEOUS nails, just thought I'd say :) Thanks for the 'ible; it's great! <3
rbryan31 year ago
Thanks! p.s. you have pretty nails, and I love that shade of polish!
vitamatta1 year ago
This is a beautifully shot instructable! And I agree 100% about keeping the polish away from the edges. It takes a steady hand but it easier than the clean up after. I really like Scotch Naturals polish. It's water based and has basically no smell. It's pricier and requires an extra base coat but is worth it to avoid the chemical headache. Thanks for the great tips!
vgarrett1 year ago
I thought I was the only one who did this!
looks great and great ideas to share....wonder if I could maintain mine after doing yard work the way I do...haaa Thanks for sharing...
egw19451 year ago
Great How to. Thank you.
Mynevere1 year ago
Thanks for this instruction! I've been painting my nails, and getting them done, for years. Never hear, or thought, about *not* taking the polish all the way to the skin. I also like the idea of prepping the nails with polish remover. Makes sense! Thanks again!
Very handy!Brofist to you!
HollyMann1 year ago
Excellent tips! very useful as summer arrives! Now if my hands were as pretty as yours and nails as long - that would be great too! :) I paint my nieces nails often too this helps!
Wynd1 year ago
I also use the top coat as my base coat before color ~ I don't get stained nails [varies depending on the color brand], and it comes off super easily when I need to remove :)

I'm going to look for glass nail files now, they sound awesome :D
Wow, you have beautiful hands and nails! Thanks for the insight here, I realize I've been doing things wrong for years! (Which is probably why I don't paint my nails often...) Awesome! :)
I love that color!