How To: Paint Your Right (or Left) Hand

Painting outside the lines is just fine in grade school art class, but when it comes to nails, we like to keep things neat and clean. Unless you’re ambidextrous, that is easier said than done. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be polishing like a pro in no time, even with your non-dominant hand.

Steady There

The couch sure is comfy, but for the best mani results, set up at a desk or table. By resting your elbow on the tabletop, your less-dexterous hand will feel a lot steadier while painting. If you’re not near a table, rest your arm on your knee for fewer shakes and mistakes.

The Prep Step

Pre-polish preparation can make a big difference for unsteady hands. Use a small brush or Q-tip to apply a ring of Vaseline or Aquaphor around your cuticle line (make sure to keep it off your actual nail). This way, if you end up with polish outside the lines, the color will wipe right off without any remover.

Set The Foundation

A base coat is like makeup primer—it creates a smooth canvass that’s essential for a pro polish job. Try Orly Bonder, which has a unique rubberized formula made for long-lasting wear, or a 2-in-1 like Deborah Lippmann’s Hard Rock Base & Top Coat.

Less Is More

Thick, goopy polish will run into the cuticle line and make a huge mess, especially when painting with your less skilled hand. You’ll have more control with a few thin coats than one that’s really thick, so work with less polish on the brush than you think you need.

Clean-up Time

Achieving a salon-quality manicure at home ultimately comes down to the clean-up. We like to dip an angled eyeliner brush (one that’s specifically reserved for your nails) into nail polish remover, running the polish-soaked bristles along the cuticle to erase mistakes and create a smooth, clean line. The before and after is dramatic. For best results, use a strong yet nourishing remover like Zoya Remove Plus. For quick touch-ups, try a remover pen with a contoured tip like the Cutex Corrector Pen.

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