Our relationship with our nail polish is like that of a close friend—we expect it to always be there for us in a our time of need, and rely on it to brighten our spirits (and our nail beds) at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, this close friend isn’t the most easy-going—no, it tends to butt heads with our inherent impatience and, more often than not, leave us with scuffs, smudges, and smears. A tumultuous relationship, to say the least.
But the time has come to mend fences and bid adieu to smudged nails for good. We enlisted the help of celeb manicurist Kait Mosh (she’s painted the digits of everyone from J.Lo to Taylor Schilling) to show us the ropes.
Keep flipping for ten genius nail polish hacks to help you step up your nail game in a major way!
“To brighten any [polish] color, especially neons, paint one coat of white polish underneath your polish to instantly make the color pop!” Mosh says. On the flip side, she says to paint one coat of black nail polish to deepen darker colors, like reds and blues.
Pictured: LVX Nail Polish ($16) in Porcelaine
Mosh says that the easiest way to clean up when you paint outside the edges (read: anywhere on your skin) is to use an old concealer brush. “Dip your brush in acetone and easily wipe off any polish on your cuticles,” she says.
Pictured: Hourglass Concealer Brush ($25)
Or, you can use this trick: use a Q-tip to trace petroleum jelly along the outside edges of your nails, then paint away. Your polish will magically stay within the lines!
Pictured: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly ($5)
To protect your nails from minor scuffs, fuzz, and hair, Mosh says to apply one drop of cuticle oil directly on each nail after you’re done polishing.
Pictured: Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($9)
Is there anything worse than looking down at your painstaking manicure and noticing chips a day later? Here’s Mosh’s advice: “Paint a top coat over your mani every other day to help extend your wear time, and keep it shiny and fresh!”
Pictured: Formula X for Sephora Shine Top Coat ($11)
We’ve all been there: you finally finish your nail polish masterpiece, only to look up at the clock and realize you have to rush out the door. To help your polish dry more quickly, dunk your digits into a bowl of ice water. You’re welcome.
Want to rock sparkly nails for your big date, but need them to be gone in the a.m.? Try this trick: use a clean nail polish brush to paint a layer of Elmer’s glue over each nail as a makeshift base coat, paint your glittery polish on top, then finish with a top coat. When it comes to time for removal, just peel them off—yes, really. No cotton balls, aluminum foil, or excessive amount of waiting time required.
If your polishes tend to get sticky and clumpy, Mosh says there are two culprits to blame: oxygen and heat. “Leave your polish bottles closed and out of the sun as much as possible,” she says. “The more that wet polish is exposed to oxygen and sun, the worse the consistency and efficacy.” Our advice? Store your most prized polishes in the fridge.
RGB Nail Polish ($18) in Bare
If your polish lids tend to get stuck, Mosh suggests cleaning the rim of your polish bottle with a paper towel and acetone remover after you use it. It’ll not only keep the lid from sticking, but keep your polish fresher, longer.
White and cream nail polishes are stunning, but the formulas can often be watery and streak-y. The solution? Mosh says to use a ridge-filling base coat to help the color go on streak-free—we like Butter London’s Nail Foundation Flawless Basecoat ($19).
Have you tried any of these polish hacks? Tell us below!