STYLE

5 Tips For The Best At-Home Manicures

02/08/2013 08:11 am ET | Updated May 08, 2015

manicure

Try as we might, our at-home manicure always looks a little, well, homemade. Yet, there are a few clever tricks you can employ that will make your nail job look decidedly less amateurish.

1. Make sure you fully remove any existing polish.
Surprisingly, all you need is one cotton ball. Shred the puff into smaller pieces, then soak the cotton bits and place on each nail. Just swipe away a few moments later. If you've been wearing dark colors like plum or burgundy, you may notice a slight yellowing of the nails after you remove polish. To get clear, bright nails, simply dip fingers in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda for a few minutes, and voila! Clean nails.

2. Use Vaseline to help you stay in the lines.
Staying within the confines of your nails is not as easy as it seems. Somehow we always end up painting a little over our cuticle. To avoid this from happening in the first place, dab Vaseline around the edge of the nail. Any errant polish will stick to the balm, not your skin.

3. Don't skip the base coat.
Base coat helps your manicure in two major ways. First, it helps prevent nail stains and discoloration caused by polish. Second, it makes nail polish go on smoother. Bonus: many formulas include ingredients that can help strengthen and moisturize your nails.

4. Swap your cuticle cutter with cuticle oil.
Many women who like to regularly manicure their nails end up over-cutting their cuticles, which can lead to even more sensitive skin around the nail. Push back your cuticles instead, and apply oil rich in vitamin E to strengthen and hydrate your skin and nails.

5. Invest in top coat.
Sometimes a manicure is only as good as the top coat you put on it. It might seem silly to spend more than a few dollars on such a product, but it's worth finding a formula that adds shine and prevents your polish from chipping. Applying the coat to the top edge of the nail will effectively seal in your polish. Skeptical? Try Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat.

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