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My Top Tips for Painting Nails

Last Updated on by Carly

As we’re fast approaching the party season I figure there’s going to be a whole lot of nail painting going on! So, with that in mind, today’s post is my top tips for painting nails. These are my tricks of the trade that I used day in, day out at the salon. I hope you find them useful….


Roll nail polish bottles from side to side in the palms of your hands. Personally I find this is the best way to mix polish. Shaking a bottle up and down is a one way ticket to the lid getting stuck on, as the lacquer will dry inside it. My Nail Polish Troubleshooting post has a great tip for solving this problem.

Try to paint each coat in 3 or 4 strokes maximum. Apply your polish as thinly as possible so that it dries well, and doesn’t become tacky or too thick.

Don’t focus on the first coat too much. Put your efforts into getting the second coat of colour perfect. I usually paint the first layer really quickly, and if I’m honest rather roughly at times. The most important thing for me is that it’s applied thinly. Then on the second coat I really take my time, making sure the final finish is perfect. OPI Natural Lacquer is my favourite, because it’s pretty forgiving when it comes to painting nails, so perhaps give them a try if you find you’re struggling.

Always use a base coat. It’ll protect your nails from staining, creating the ideal smooth base to paint on, and best of all will help your polish to last longer. My fave is OPI Natural Nail Base Coat.

Make your final layer a top coat. It’ll create a barrier which will save your coloured polish if you hit your nails. Another bonus is that top coat often perfects the final look, smoothing out all sorts of imperfections, and leaves a gorgeous shine. For me, this is when my nail polish really comes to life. I love OPI Top Coat.

File your nails before painting them. There’s nothing worse than freshly painted nails that look a bit like a Monet – from far away they look okay, but up close they’re a big old mess! Okay, that’s a quote taken from Clueless, but you get what I mean?

There are a few other fab products that I can’t live without, and help to prep when I’m painting nails, and they are OPI Nail Envy (which for me, doubles up as a base and top coat, but also a nail strengthener), OPI Avoplex Nail and Cuticle Replenishing Oil (which generally makes my nails and cuticles look a million times better!), OPI Polish Remover, and OPI Drip Dry Drops. When I haven’t got any Drip Dry Drops handy, I hold my nails under cold water. If you haven’t tried this already, give it a go! You’ll be surprised at how well this technique works. My first ever blog post (don’t judge!) explains this in more detail.

There’s one other product that I really love and use before painting my nails, and that’s the OPI Avoplex Moisture Replenishing Oil. I always used this on clients in the salon, and it has the most gorgeous smell. It’s great because you can apply it all over your arms, hands and nails, massage in, and then as long as you give your nails a quick wipe with OPI’s polish remover before painting, it doesn’t create any problems with the polish, like some other lotions do.

What are your top tips for painting nails?

Carly x


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