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Video:How to Apply Nail Polish

with Heather Babcock

Applying nail polish on your own nails takes some talent and practice. This About.com video will walk you through the process.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Apply Nail Polish

Hi, I'm Heather Babcock and I'm a Certified Nail Technician at Hair Lines Salon in Los Osos, California, and I'm here today for About.com to show you how to apply nail polish.

Supplies for Applying Nail Polish

To do this you will need:

  • a bottle of base coat
  • a bottle of nail polish
  • a bottle of quick-dry top coat
  • and acetone

Instructions for Applying Nail Polish

At this point in your manicure, you should have already removed old nail polish, trimmed and filed your nails, and attended to your cuticles. If you've applied any lotion to your hands or cuticle oil to your nails, you need to swab each nail bed with acetone before applying polish. When polishing your nails, you always want to begin with a base coat. This is essentially a clear coat and it serves a couple of functions. First, the base coat protects the nail itself so the polish doesn't stain or dye the nail; and second, it creates an adhesive surface to which the polish can stick, elongating the life of your manicure. As you apply the base coat (and all other coats), be sure to work in a consistent pattern: start with your non-dominant hand, working from pinky to thumb, then repeat the process on your dominant hand. It's now time to apply your nail polish, and each nail should get two coats of color.

Tips for Applying the Nail Polish

Start by giving each nail a single coat, and then go back and apply the second coat in the same pattern. This will give your nails a chance to dry a bit, which will prevent smudging or other inconsistencies in your work. Be careful not to saturate the brush too heavily with polish – you want just enough to lightly cover the surface of the nail, or "float the bead" as we say in the salon.

More Tips

Just a tip: If you accidentally get nail polish outside of the nail bed, you can dip a small brush or q-tip into your acetone remover and use it to clean up the area. After both coats of polish have been applied, you'll want to apply a quick-dry top coat to finalize the process. The drying agent in this coat will allow you to go about your business without having to wait 20 or 30 minutes for your nail color to harden. If you plan on using clear nail polish as your top coat, or if your top coat lacks a quick-dry component, then you'll want to spend some time under a nail dryer before engaging in any activities that could smear or otherwise ruin your manicure. And that's how you apply nail polish.

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