And three other ways to get your best at-home manicure.

By Chelsea Traber Burns
Updated July 06, 2017

There’s nothing better than going to a salon for a manicure. Except maybe when you nail an at-home manicure all by yourself and there’s no charge waiting for you at the end. Follow these tips from celebrity manicurist and Paintbox creative director Julie Kandalec to get that perfect DIY mani every time. (You can go ahead and add professional manicurist to your resume now.)

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1 Paint Your Dominant Hand First.

Kandalec recommends painting your dominate hand first as “it usually takes longer, so it’s nice to be able to do it before the other one has polish on it.” We also tend to be a little more cautious and careful with the first hand we paint, so best to give your fresh eyes and steady hand to the weaker of the two.

Painting nails with red polish
Credit: SPL IMAGES/Getty Images

2 Paint One Hand at a Time.

When it comes to painting your nails, it’s better to take it slow. Complete one hand—base coat to top coat—and wait until it’s dry to the touch before starting on the other one. “This way you’re not stuck without free hands,” says Kandalec.

3 Stick With Sheer Colors If You’re In A Hurry.

You may have already noticed this, but it’s actually a fact that creamier or white-based colors take longer to dry than sheer ones. That explains why white polish is so hard to work with!

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4 Finish Strong.

It’s all in the top coat when it comes to finishing a manicure strong. Kandalec’s go-to pick—Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat ($8.50;—is a favorite among manicurists and is known for being quick drying and practically smudge-proof. It also leaves an almost gel-like finish. Reapply the formula every few days to help extend the life of your mani.