Every day we look out our finger nails. Sometime we stare in awe at how shiny and healthy they look. Other times we wallow in sorrow at their bare and brittle state. It's when we have those not-so-pleased moments that a manicure is a life changer (or at the very least, a mood enhancer). Unfortunately, a salon visit isn't always in the cards. That's when you should bring out your polish arsenal and become an at-home manicure pro. Because even though the salon seems out of reach, no one can deny that polishing your nails will halt biting and add strength–It can also be extremely calming when done properly. Follow these at-home manicure do's and don'ts for storage and application and you'll be left with minimal clean-up and spotless results.

DON'T store your polishes in the bathroom.

There is nothing worse than ultra runny polish or lumpy lacquer. When your nail polish is housed in an environment that is constantly changing, you compromise the consistency of the product. This can lead to a streaky manicure and shorten the shelf life of your favorite shade. Even worse, the change in the nail polish consistency can slow manicure drying time. Instead, keep your beauties standing straight up in a cool, dark place. No more stubborn bottle lids and unsightly polish.

DO roll the bottle upside down in between your hands.

When a nail polish has sat on your shelf through the seasons the formula can separate. This doesn't mean the product has expired, it just means it needs a little TLC. Before you begin every polish, roll the bottle between your hands swiftly to mix the lacquer and let your bottle's little silver ball do its job. Avoid shaking the bottle. We know we've all done this, but shaking the bottle can cause bubbles. Let's be clear, bubbles are only your friend when taking an evening bath.

DON'T polish near a blowing fan.

Gusts of wind or fans buzzing overhead may cool you down, but they also lead to bubbles on your tips. Those pesky pits are back again! Bubbles can hide, making you think you've done your best work yet, but they will rear their ugly heads when your polish fully dries and starts lifting. No one wants to revive your manicure on the very first day.

DO wipe nails clean with remover prior to polishing.

After removing your previous shade it's hard not to want to wash your hands or apply lotion to your dry skin, but fight the urge. That entire chuck of polish that just fell off may very well may be due to oils on the nail or water. Our nails are porous and grab on to moisture easily. When you wash your hands or apply lotion prior to polishing you ask for trouble and end up with lifting.

DON'T file your nail back and forth.

Filing your nail in a sawing motion tears the nail more than it smooths any snag. To the naked eye the issue appears remedied, however you won't be far from future frustration. There is nothing worse than a manicure that suffers from worn tips and broken edges. Try filing in one direction when doing a quick fix right before a polish-your nails will split less and stay pristine longer.

DO apply a top coat and base coat with every polish.

It can be tempting to skimp on product because you 1) don't have a base coat on hand, 2) are sure it's unnecessary to wear with your sheer essie Limo-Scene, or 3) think your tips look super glossy with only polish. But base coat and top coat are two of the most important parts of any manicure. The base coat protects your nails from staining and aid polish adhesion. Top coat seals your look and leaves it shiny for days!

DON'T apply thick layers of lacquer.

No matter how fast you want your manicure to be done (you're supposed to be relaxing!), applying thick coats is destined to extend the overall manicure time. Thick layers hinder drying time, cause product lift, and if polished at night will quickly be home to bed sheet marks and nail nicks. Test your patience just this once and opt for two thin coats of your selected shade.

DO polish your nails from pinky to thumb. 

We weren't all born to polish, but perfecting the skill is something we strive for. More than preserving your products and prepping your nails, how you polish is the most important aspect of the entire process. You don't need to hold your breath with each stroke, but using a steady hand and polishing from pinky to thumb on each hand is the optimal way to polish. This routine evades any accidental bumping or smudging of your already polished nails.  

How do you achieve a perfect manicure at home?
Let us know in the comments below!  

Photo: thinkstock

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