Painting Nails

Did you know that when I was growing up, my mother rarely wore makeup, and thus we never really had it in the house? And that she cut my hair until I was nearly in high school, in an extremely haphazard manner? Because of those reasons and my own incompetence, I am the last person on earth to be dispensing advice on makeup or hair.

The one beauty-related thing that I can do pretty well apparently though, is paint my nails. I received a lot of messages after this postasking about how I painted my toenails so neatly. So today I want to share with you my very elementary nail painting process, and some of my tips.

1. Start with your tools – nail polish remover to completely remove old nail polish, some cotton pads that don’t leave behind little lints, a nail buffer board (I have an old version of this one), and your nail polish color.

2. I am a strong believer in using both a base coat (the one on the way left), and a top coat (the one on the way right). The color I’m using is Opi Candy Apple Red. In this case my base coat is also a strengthener.

3. BUFF and file your nails. You should be buffing your nails with the smoothest part of the board, which will get rid of those ridges. Use the rougher areas to file down your actual nail tips into whatever shape you like. Buffing is really important and I feel that a lot of people skip this step!

4. Okay now paint your nails. You will see in this picture in the next that I’m just kind of painting haphazardy and not really “staying in the lines.” Yes, I received a Satisfactory Minus in 4th grade for Art for the same reason. The most important thing is just to make sure all the nail gets color – don’t worry about getting some extra around the edges.

5. Wait about ~10 minutes between coats. Since I do base coat, 2x color coat, and top coat, that means at least 40 minutes. I typically paint my nails during an episode of Real Housewives which gives me plenty of time, and the show never taxes my brain so I am able to concentrate. I like to do my nails at night and you’ll see why.

6. Okay – now wait for your nails to dry. They should look a little messy like mine above. Go to sleep, and the next morning while in the shower – just peel off the excess nail polish from your skin. It usually takes me 2-3 minutes to peel everything off cleanly.

7. Hooray! Clean and neat nails. This method has worked for me for years and for a lot of my friends too. A way to make it even easier is to put a little vaseline all around your nails (but not actually on your nails) before painting them – the nail polish comes off even more easily the next day in the shower.

Did this help any of you? Please share any further nail painting techniques/tips in the comments – and have a great Friday!

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  • PetiteLittleGirl
    October 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Ooo..Great trick! I am going to try it this weekend. Thanks for sharing, Kat!

  • Style Journey
    October 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    That's a cool trick to peel off in the shower! I paint my nails all the time and never knew this. Thanks for the tip 🙂 Heather

  • Glitterista
    October 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I do the exact same thing–it works like a DREAM. I think it has spoiled me, though, as I am now super picky when I get a salon manicure that they get all the way to the edges. 😉

  • SassyUptownChic
    October 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Great advice!!! I've got to try that, because I can make a mess. LOL Love them! 😀 Have a great weekend!

  • JennaRaeXoXo
    October 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    My mom was the same way! Great post 🙂

  • Yaya
    October 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Haha – so great, i actually do this too! Just I do it the night of, since I take my showers at night before bed. =)

    Great tip on the vaseline though, I'll definitely try that out the next time.


  • keepsakes. etc
    October 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    The peel in the shower trick is genius!!! Cool

  • Cindy
    October 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    ohhh good idea! I'm definitely trying this out next time I can be bothered pulling out the nail polish haha

  • janettaylor
    October 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Beautiful and classic! I love red nail polish so much!

  • breakingrumours
    October 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    thats what i do too! my nail polish remover is not strong enough to wipe clean the mistakes i've done. im not keen on using strong acetone so yup!

  • Rubiiee
    October 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Haha, I do that too, with my bath loofah, because of the meshing. Thanks for sharing!

    I nominated you for an award on my blog, I enjoy your post so much! :]

  • LC
    October 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    i do the same peeling trick! it`s geniusss.

  • Kara
    October 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I have to try this for my toenails! I do CND Shellac or Gelish on my fingernails now because I could never get a mani to last longer than a couple days chip-free.
    Great post…and lovely nails:-)

  • Samantha
    October 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    YAY!! Thanks for the tips! I do my own manis and they never really look good or last! Can't wait to try this out! :o)

  • NatalieCottrell
    October 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    This is awesome! I am so picky and have done my own manicures for years now, but I tend to lose some of the finer edges when I touch up the messy bits with a nail polish soaked Q-tip. This should fix that right up! Thanks so much for the step-by-step. I can't wait to try your method! 🙂

  • atthepatisserie
    October 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Awesome tips! These look so good–if I can replicate, I don't see why I should ever have to pay for a manicure again! 🙂

  • Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
    October 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Hey that's a cool trick! It would save me from trying to do it perfectly!

  • Fabrizia
    October 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Super cool trick!I appreciate this post!
    Take a look at my blog, and if you like it follow me, I’ll be waiting for you!

    enter the ZELEB giveaway on my blog!!
    Cosa mi metto???

  • skippysays
    October 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Color me impressed 🙂 I still don't think I ca do it, but since I'm sick of shelling out cash for manicures and pedicures every cou[le of weeks, I'll give it my best shot 🙂

  • Alexa
    October 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    That color is just stunning!

  • Adele
    October 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Fab little trick hun xoxo

  • Lindsay
    October 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I just did a similar post yesterday! Great minds think alike!

  • Janice Liao Shiao
    October 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Great post! That's exactly how I did my nails, until I went on ebay to invest in the CND Shellac set and lamp. I know, I'm nuts. I'm a dentist and I love doing my own nails. But Shellac is the only way I can keep the polish on for a full two weeks after washing my hands 16 times a day.

  • Ashley
    October 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Mine is the same! Buffing is so important and it makes such a difference in all my at home manicures! The only thing I do differently is use Sally Hansen quick dry top coat. It takes my drying time down to like 1 min flat, it's such a godsend when I need to do a quick polish job on the go.

  • amy b.s.
    October 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    this reminded me that i so need to paint my nails!

  • makeupandpearls
    October 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    thanks for the tips!

  • dietingfashions
    October 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    My problem is buffing correctly. I always have uneven edges along my nails so the polish comes off quicker.

  • Anonymous
    October 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Very cool trick K – and I love this bright red color on you. I never have nail polishes on unless it's a special occassion or when I am on vacation because after cleaning the house and dishes several times a day they always end up chipping so I don't bother anymore. Needless to say this is such a cool trick. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend my dear.


  • DSK Steph
    October 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Your nails are beautiful! That's a great shade of red, very bright and classic. 🙂

  • lisaroyhandbags
    October 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Gee, did we grow up in the same household?
    I have honestly never heard this tip before and it's brilliant! Thanks for sharing.
    And thanks so much for popping by and leaving your sweet comment xo

  • Lorrie
    October 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    This post was winning! I have the worst hands to be painting nails and always get them everywhere and get very frustrated doing my nails. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

  • xJOLE
    October 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I do the exact same thing! I just peel off in the shower or even in the sink, if I'm pressed for time. Makes for the best manicures.

  • newpetite
    October 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Hahaha.. Thats exactly what I do. Peel it off in the shower the next day 🙂

  • Amber from Real Girl Glam
    October 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I use the shower trick too when I paint my nails! Absolute easiest way to get all the excess off.

  • Saint Folie
    October 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    GOOOOOORGEOUS Red, gorgeous.

  • Fashion and Glamour
    October 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Great post! Thank you Katherine!!!

  • Babe Jane
    October 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Great colour 🙂

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    October 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Kat, thank you soooo much for the tips. I'm rubbish at painting my nails and this is EXACTLY what I need to know.

  • Chocolate, Cookies & Candies
    October 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Kat, thank you soooo much for the tips. I'm rubbish at painting my nails and this is EXACTLY what I need to know.

  • cheryl denise
    October 28, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    i have been using this technique for years as well…works like a charm!

    a peek of chic

  • Sarah
    October 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I have the same routine! It's what works best. 🙂

  • chicology
    October 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I will try this! 🙂

  • JenlovesBal
    October 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Thank you for the vaseline trick! Will try that. 🙂 Your nails are gorg btw. 😀

  • Mimi
    October 29, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Wow, it does peel of nicely…i usually try to wipe it off when still wet, and that just makes a bigger mess!

    Aesthetic Lounge

  • 0000
    October 29, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Oh my goodness! I'm not the only person that does this! Now I have the urge to paint my nails ahhhh!

  • Tinfoil Tiaras
    October 29, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Wow your nails look incredible! I have over 100 nail polish so am constantly painting my nails! I use a Q-tip with nail polish remover to take away the excess but sometimes it comes off in the shower which is great too. Have a great weekend 🙂

  • Rinny
    October 29, 2011 at 3:12 am

    You have such nice hands and nails! I think that's one advantage you have over the rest of us haha. Thanks for the shower tip though – I've never thought to do that before 🙂

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    October 29, 2011 at 4:24 am

    I grew up the same way! I have been experimenting a bit more with makeup and nails though. I will definitely remember to buff as well!

    I Am including your post in my worthy reads roundup!

  • Cara
    October 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    You have beautiful long nails, mine are so stubby but I definitely do your shower, peel trick too and it really helps! I should wait longer between coats I think!

  • Carmen
    October 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    very cool post! beautiful nails

    XO, Carmen

  • homestilo
    October 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Some really great tips and things I never do (like waiting between coats, buffering). Definitely inspired to go do my nails now!

  • Shannyn
    October 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Great tips! I never thought to peel off the excess nail polish in the shower!

  • littlemissandrea
    October 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Awesome trick! I'm pretty picky when it comes to painting my nails and it can be pretty tedious when I make sure not to get all messy. I will try this out in the future. Love the red on your nails btw, they look beautiful! 🙂

  • Haus and Home
    October 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I definitely think keeping something on my nails even if its just clear polish helps mine from breaking. I love Sally Hansons's Strong as Wraps clear to help keep mine strong.

  • Alina
    October 29, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Gorgeous color!Love it!

  • alicia
    October 29, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I love the sephora OPI colors also 🙂 so cute.

  • Fashion Confessions of a Mommy
    October 29, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Great manicure. Love the oval shaped nails as well.
    Thanks for visiting my blog while I was on vacation.

  • Isabel
    October 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I always put on an episode of something or another when I do my nails. Makes me feel more productive :p

  • simplychic
    October 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Looking good! I don't use a base coat, but maybe I should start. It might help me keep my polish on longer. Actually maybe that's the purpose of the top coat, which I rarely use too…

  • Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl
    October 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    This is such a fantastic tip! And I just love how you describe the whole process so well. I'm almost upset I was recommended this thing before I came across this post on your blog lol Although somehow I never tried it with my hands and only used this method with my toe nails… Not sure why! lol

    October 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    The shape is gorgeous <3

  • lesouefsbrouilles
    October 30, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    omg vaseline around the nails? what a great idea!

  • Rachel {Da Paura ♥}
    October 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Oh I so needed this, I'm horrible with nails! I will most definitely be remembering this. Oh, and I'm obsessing over your blog and I'm your newest follower now! 🙂


  • Jess
    October 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    This was a very interesting and helpful post on how to get really perfect painted nails.

    I must admit, I'm really bad at doing my nails, and above all I have severely dry cuticles.

    You have beautiful hands and nails, Katherine! And your nails are so perfectly shaped too! I will try out your method the next time I paint my nails! Thank you for sharing!

  • fashion kats
    October 31, 2011 at 12:00 am

    I've never heard about this method! I'll try! 🙂

  • Hilary
    October 31, 2011 at 1:37 am

    this is great! i do this too when I mess up but never 'on purpose'… you made it make complete sense 😉 thanks!

  • Sunkissed and Southern
    October 31, 2011 at 3:25 am

    i will have to try this! thanks for sharing.

  • littlefrocker
    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Neat trick. Definitely trying it. By the way, any insight on why nails turn yellow after continued use of nail polish. My toe nails fall victim to this ugly phenomenon. =(

  • Alexa
    October 31, 2011 at 4:27 am

    The color on those nails – perfect! 🙂

  • Annabelle Fleur
    October 31, 2011 at 4:42 am

    What a great idea! I get completely wrapped up in getting it perfect, that it takes me hours to do my nails! So eager to try it your way now:) Great blog, I am now following! Maybe you'll have time to visit my blog:)


  • Claire
    October 31, 2011 at 4:43 am

    i totally do the peel off in the shower too! i love painting my nails. but i have to say i'm not as patient as you. i usually do my base coat and paint at night then the next morning i put on the top coat, that way it's completely dry. mostly because i've messed them up so many times when i fall asleep.

  • Mimi
    October 31, 2011 at 5:52 am

    i do that too! i just take off the excess nail polish in the shower — much easier and better than trying to clean it with nail polish remover. 🙂

    <3, Mimi

  • Fash Boulevard
    October 31, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Great post. Your nails look fab. I use the same method of peeling off the messy parts in the shower the next day! It's the best way! 🙂

    I'm doing an amazing jewelry giveaway on my blog today and I would love for you to stop by and enter it!

  • Texskiss
    October 31, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I've never heard of actually trying to get it on the cuticle! LOL I love that~~and it peels right off in the shower?? OK…l'll give it a try!

  • rolala
    October 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Great tips! I always tend to forget the buffing. I do agree that the peeling method works wonders. You have such pretty hands btw!

  • Diane
    October 31, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    great tips!! very helpful!! thanks for sharing..
    let's keep in touch!
    would love to follow you =) let me know pleaseee
    thank you! see you then!

  • Michelle
    October 31, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Good tutorial… I need all the help I can get in that department! I like the idea of not having to do it so perfectly!

  • Tanya @ Dans le Townhouse
    October 31, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Great tip! I have noticed polish on skin peels off quickly, but I never thought to intentionally be messy. But this is perfect: no gaps on naked nail!

  • audrinajulia
    November 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Love all your procedures. I do all of them except from the procedure that I put lotion or hand moisturizer after. Next time I will try to use it before to know the results. Like to use a strengthener cause my nails tend to be weak. Buffing is really a plus but as the manicurist tells me that I should buff in one direction to avoid chipping of nails.

    You have a gorgeous hands, nails, and the nail polish looks good on your nails too! For the love of nail colors, love your post.

  • Naara
    November 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I try so hard not to get it on my skin, but Im going to try this. I bet itll even make painting my nails more relaxing, not having to worry about making a little mess & knowing it will come off! thanks

  • Samantha
    November 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Just wanted to say that I tried this the other night! It worked like a charm! Thanks Katherine! (And it's so nice to not worry about staying in the lines! Mr. S was a little afraid when he first saw them!)