How to Paint Nails Neatly: 10 Products For An Easy Mani

perfect manicure

Liliya Rodnikova / Stocksy

If you're like me, your fingernails may be one of the first things on your beauty-to-do list that goes by the wayside. Try as I might, I usually end up with chipped nails, paint outside of the nail bed, or endless smudges on the nail polish the next morning after attempting an at-home manicure. My manicure always looks great after a visit to the nail salon, so why I am such a nail noob? Ironically, my toenail polish can last for months at a time, but my fingernails fall prey to being chipped almost immediately. Hence the unpolished nails.

Guess what, it's time to put an end to being a novice at perfectly polished nails. Who's game? With all of the foolproof products out there, most of us are just one DIY manicure away from never having to immediately remove nail polish in shame.

Keep scrolling for tips and shop our new favorite products!

Deborah Lippman, The Stripper To Go

Deborah Lippmann The Stripper To Go $12.00

First things first, if you have any lingering chipped polish on your nails, it's time for the groan-worthy act of stripping your nails bare. Thanks to these suggestively-named little mitts, you can easily place a pre-soaked pad over nails for fast removal. As an added bonus, lavender and aloe are meant to soothe and hydrate a dry nail bed.

Sally Hansen, Nail Treatment Instant Cuticle Remover

Sally Hansen Nail Treatment Instant Cuticle Remover $5.00

Prep the surface of each nail and you'll have a clean, smooth base for your manicure. Trust us, ignoring dry, overgrown cuticles and painting over them only makes them more apparent, so nip the problem in the bud with cuticle remover. This instant option dissolves excess cuticles within 15 seconds, and with one quick rinse nail beds are soft, primed and ready for polish.

OPI, Natural Nail Base Coat

OPI Natural Nail Base Coat $11.00

It may seem like just an extra step, but using a base coat is an absolute must if you long for a long-lasting manicure. It utilizes double adhesion to stick to both the natural nail and the actual nail color so it stays put longer while also protecting the natural nail from polish stains.

Bliss Kiss, Simply Peel Latex Skin Barrier

Bliss Kiss Simply Peel Latex Skin Barrier $10.00

You may have heard about using glue to get a perfectly clean manicure, but if you have any reservations about putting it on your skin then this may be the product for you. With hundreds of reviews on Amazon and an overall 4/5 star rating, we're intrigued by this alternative cuticle remover that—brace yourself—sparkles when it's dry.

Ulta, Manicure Sticks

Ulta Manicure Sticks
Ulta Manicure Sticks
Ulta Manicure/Pedicure Sticks $4.00

If you'd rather not go the paint-and-peel method, dress up nails as usual (we're not here to judge if you can't stay in the lines), and clean up any excess paint by wrapping a manicure stick in a bit of cotton, dip it in nail polish remover, and carefully wipe any unwanted polish right off.

Grip + Tip, Nail Polish Holder

Grip & Tip Nail Polish Holder $10.00

This gadget is for both our nail painting newbies and novices alike. When you have a bottle of nail polish that's nearing the end and you're trying to salvage what's left, turns out there's a beauty hack for that. This stand will "grip and tip" your bottle for you so you can get every last drop without having to do a balancing act.

Essie, Gel Setter Top Coat

Essie Gel Setter Top Coat $10.00

Of all the topcoats we've tried, this by far exceeded our expectations. Turns out your at-home manicure will last so much longer and have that coveted shiny shellacked look that you crave from a traditional gel manicure. The best part? You can take it right off with regular nail polish remover without having to endure the painstaking gel polish removal process.

Zoya, Fast Drops

Zoya Fast Drops $16.00

The truth is, we're all busy, constantly on the go and rarely have time to sit and literally watch paint dry. With this liquid gem, you can paint your nails and move on with your day. Apply a few quick drops to each wet nail and your manicure is set.

OPI, Rapid Dry Spray

OPI RapiDry
OPI Rapid Dry
OPI Nail Dry Spray $11.00

Not into drops that leave behind an oily residue? Apply a quick-drying spray in-between coats and at the very end of your at-home manicure to set polish in a flash. Its sweet coconut scent is a nice perk.

ManiMe, Half Moon Glossy Nail Wraps

ManiMe Rosada
ManiMe Half Moon Glossy Nail Wraps $20.00

This may take some willpower, but avoid going the four-stroke route when applying polish. Less is best (and neater) when going for the perfect mani. Keep it to no more than three strokes of polish to avoid a goopy finish.

With an adhesive nail wrap, inspiration (and options) are endless! Show off and choose from a wide range of different colors, patterns and shapes. A new flawless manicure is as simple as placing a new design on your nail, adhering each strip securely (some brands suggest using a hairdryer) and filing off the excess, no messy nail polish bottle required.

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