Try as we might, our at-home manicure never really measures up to the real deal at the salon. Which is kind of bummer, because laying down 12 or so bucks every weekend is starting to rack up. Yet, there are a few clever tricks you can employ at home that will make your nail job look decidedly less amateurish.

For starters, make sure you're thoroughly removing your existing polish. Surprisingly, all you need is one cotton ball. Start by shredding the puff into smaller pieces, then soak the shredded cotton and place on each nail. After a few minutes, just swipe away -- the acetone will have fully lifted the color. You can even take off gel nail color this way, just repeat those steps then wrap each nail with aluminum foil. This creates a heated action that's strong enough to remove gel.

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.

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.

And lastly, keep chips at bay by painting a top coat on the top edge of the nail. This will effectively seal in your polish.

Meanwhile, check out 13 ideas for tiny finger nails:

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  • Blue Moon Manicure

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/02/blue-moon-manicure.html">here</a>

  • Watercolor Nails

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/05/watercolour-nail.html">here</a>

  • Pink And Orange Gradient Nail Art

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/10/day-10-gradient.html">here</a>

  • Blue Polka Dot DIY Nails

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/10/day-11-polka-dots.html">here</a>

  • Poppies Manicure

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/11/day-14-flowers.html">here</a>

  • Wacky Space Rocks Nail Art

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2013/01/wacky-space-rocks.html">here</a>

  • Black And White Striped Nails

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/10/day-7-black-white.html">here</a>

  • Patchwork Stripes Manicure

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/01/patchwork-stripes.html">here</a>

  • Sparkly Hearts And Stripes Nail Art

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/08/sparkly-hearts-and-stripes.html">here</a>

  • Skirt-Inspired Nail Art

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/08/new-skirt-nails-again.html">here</a>

  • Green and Gold Glitter Manicure

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/09/day-4-green.html">here</a>

  • Nautical Stripes Nail Art

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/10/day-12-stripes.html">here</a>

  • Fish Scales Manicure

    Details <a href="http://little-nails.blogspot.com/2012/11/day-13-animal-print.html">here</a>

  • How to Create Zooey Deschanel's Tuxedo Nail Art

    Zooey Deschanel may have wowed in a Prada gown at the Golden Globes, but her nails were equally dressed up in little tuxedos. Zooey is known for her love of perfectly decorated manicures, and this black and white look was the talk of the red carpet. Watch our video to find out how easy it is to re-create this look at home. Your nails will be best dressed in no time.

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