Nail Polish 101 – How to Apply Nail Polish

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I’ve had a few friends follow this blog that weren’t really ‘into’ nail polish before my contagious obsession caught on. They might have painted their nails once in a while, but now they are getting more and more interested. (You know who you are!) This article on how to apply nail polish is dedicated to them!

One of the common statements all these people make is that painting their nails takes too long and doesn’t end up looking good. This article is going to address both of those problems. I have gotten to the point where I can remove old polish, apply new, and have it reasonably dry all within 30 minutes or less. (Sort of like the Domino’s of nails.)

Step One: Remove Old Polish

Don’t spend time scrubbing off old polish. Be efficient. Be fast. Use less than one cotton ball!

Items needed:

  • Acetone
  • One Cotton Ball

First, unravel the cotton ball.



Rip the cotton into finger-sized pieces.


Put acetone on the cotton piece (most easily done with a pump bottle)


Place the acetone-soaked cotton on your nail.


Repeat for all remaining nails.


Wait for a few minutes.

Apply a little pressure and pull the cotton across the nail. Some little bits of polish might hang on to your nail – that’s ok. Use a clean part of the acetone cotton to wipe it away.


You can also use q-tips soaked in acetone to clean up the little bits that didn’t get removed.


Step Two: Moisturize and Prep

Items needed:

  • Hand lotion
  • Q-tips
  • Rubbing Alcohol

    All that acetone from step one will assuredly have dried out your hands and nails. Let’s get some moisture back in! Use your favorite hand lotion, making sure to rub on and around your nails.

Basecoats like to adhere to clean nail plates so we’ll need to remove a little of the lotion we just applied. A Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol will dry out excess moisture without drying out your nail. Rubbing alcohol can also be decanted into an empty polish bottle for easy application instead of using a Q-tip. (Confession: I rarely do this step. I change my mani every day so a long-lasting mani isn’t super important to me. This step helps keep your polish on longer.)



Step Three: Basecoat

No, you can’t skip this step. No, you can’t use topcoat instead of basecoat. Scientifically speaking (I sound smart now, right?) basecoat is formulated to adhere to your nail plate. Nail polish is formulated to adhere to a basecoat. Topcoats are formulated to seal in and dry the polish pigment. #chemistry

Items needed:

  • Basecoat

You may want to read step 4 prior to applying basecoat since there is a specific application pattern I follow which I also follow for the basecoat.

Step Four: Nail Polish Time!

We all want to apply nail polish perfectly.  Just like anything else, this takes practice! I’ve been painting my nails daily for over four years (sometimes more than once a day!) and I still get polish on my skin sometimes. (See optional step below on cleanup.)

In general, your polish is going to go where your basecoat went. So, you’ll want to be careful when applying your basecoat even though it doesn’t seem like it’s going to make a difference since it’s clear.

Here are the basic steps I take for every nail during every step (basecoat, color, and topcoat.)

  1.  With a small amount of polish on the brush, set it down on the nail slightly above where you actually want the polish to end up.
  2. Gently push it as close to your cuticle as you can without getting it on your cuticle. (In all my closeup photos, you can see there is a small gap between the polish and my cuticle where a hairline of bare nail shows through. This is intentional. You don’t want polish on your cuticle.)
  3.  Pull the polish all the way to the tip of your nail. Steps 1-3 are completed without lifting the brush from the nail.
  4. Set the brush down gently where you ended step 2. Swoop the brush around the side and pull it to the tip of your nail.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
  6. If you have a free edge (the nail has grown past your finger), then slide the brush across the tip to help seal it in.


If my graphic I oh-so-expertly made in Publisher doesn’t help you visualize, here is a little video of what I mean. The video is in real time.

Step Five: Top Coat

Items needed:

  • Topcoat

It’s time to seal in your polish with a fast-drying topcoat. Unless the topcoat actually says that it’s fast drying, then it’s not. My personal favorite is Seche Vite but there are many options to try. Your favorite will depend on your personal body chemistry. If one topcoat doesn’t really work for you, try another!

Apply topcoat using the same method described in step 4.

Optional Step: Clean Up

If you’re going to take pictures of your hands (like me!) then you’ll want to clean up. Use a bit of acetone and an ELF concealer brush to wipe away little accidents on the skin. If you’re not immediately showing off your nails, then you don’t really need this step. Polish on skin will usually come off in the shower without any added effort on your part.


Hopefully this post was helpful! Please share with anyone you think would like it!

How to Grow Strong and Long Nails

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One of the most common questions I receive is how to get long and strong nails. I also see this question asked frequently in Facebook groups. This article will explain what has worked extremely well for me and others. However, keep in mind that each person’s body chemistry, genes, and lifestyle are different. It’s important to experiment and figure out what combination of the follow tips will work best for you!

Here’s the short answer: Use a jojoba-based nail oil, eat right, and be careful with your nails.

Here’s the long answer:


The #1 Way to Get Stronger, Longer Nails

Oil! Oil! Oil!

According to Ana at, oil is the glue that holds the layers of your nail together. She has thoroughly studied Doug Schoon’s book, Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, which I am now in the process of reading. Your nails are made of about 100 of layers of keratin and oil is what keeps them together. When your nails get too dry (not enough oil), then the layers start to peel apart. By the way….oil is also the solution to peeling nails. ;) With peeling, come breaks! The fewer layers you have at the tips of your nails, the easier they will break!

Here are my nails from three years ago. You can see I had short nails and terrible cuticles. (Not to mention terrible photography!)


(It still pains me to look at this picture…)


In an effort to help my poor, destroyed nails, I bought some Duri Rejuvocate.  Duri made my nails worse!! In fact, I first discovered when I Googled “Duri Rejuvocate reviews”. That day changed my life! I immediately purchased Ana’s jojoba oil based Pure Nail Oil and did the three day go naked challenge. (Basically, you go without polish for three days *insert gasps here* and oil your nails whenever they look dry. For me, that was like every hour.)


I’m sure you’re familiar with how my nails and cuticles look now, but here is a picture to refresh your memory. ;) (Please note that I don’t Photoshop my pictures. I don’t own Photoshop…so I just crop and wordmark and I’m done.)

To this day, I am still shocked at the difference this one little change made. I can’t recommend a jojoba-based oil enough! Keep in mind that it takes 4-9 months for your nails to grow out so if you start using oil today, the real benefits won’t be seen for a while. Your cuticles will have quick improvement, but fixing the peeling and breaking will take longer. It’s WELL worth the wait. Trust me.

Want long nails? Take care of your body!

In other words…eat healthy! When I’m eating right, I notice a huge difference in my nail strength and growth. And it makes sense! If your body is getting the right nutrients, then it will have spare ‘supplies’ to make better nails. As an added bonus, my hair also starts to look fantastic when I’m eating right. Hmmm….I think it’s time to start eating right again! LOL. I’ve kinda fallen off the wagon this past year…but I don’t want my nails and hair to look bad! Not to mention my waistline! :P

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How to File and Shape Your Nails

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This post is dedicated to Emily, one of my day-job colleagues. I’d link to her Instagram/Twitter/Blog…but she doesn’t have one…yet…

This article is going to explain how I file and shape my nails and I will also share some of the ‘best practices’ for filing and shaping nails. Most of my knowledge comes from reading Ana’s articles on She thoroughly researches nail care so we don’t have to. Thanks, Ana! :*

My Shaping Routine

Thank goodness for stoplights! At every stoplight, I am either oiling my cuticles or shaping my nails. I’m actually a little disappointed when I get a green light. According to Ana, about 20 strokes with a nail file takes off one week of nail growth. A few times per week, I will do about 5 strokes per nail. This keeps my nails at a consistent shape and length.

My preferred shape is square, but there are many common shapes to chose from:


Photo From:

(Mountain Peak is also commonly known as Stiletto.)

Once you’ve decided on your preferred shape, you will want to slowly coax your nail into that shape. Unless you have really long nails and can take off a lot of length to change shapes, this is going to be a work in progress. Each time you file, you’ll want to file with your goal shape in mind. Since my shape is square, I always file with the file parallel to the tip of my nail. This keeps the edge as flat as possible. I don’t ever file the sides. But, if you want an almond or round style, you’ll move the file in an arc motion to encourage that shape.

Best Practices for Filing Nails

There are a few commonly accepted best practices for filing nails and I have found them to be true.

  • Use an etched glass or crystal nail file. My favorites are from or Mont Bleau from Amazon.

    • Why? Glass or crystal files are much easier on your nails than emory board files. The grit is finer and strong meaning that it takes less pressure to file more effectively. I think of it like the difference between cutting with a sharp steak knife versus a butter knife. You need less pressure and fewer strokes if the knife is sharp. Same thing with fine, strong grit nail files. Etched glass/crystal also does not wear down so you can use the same file for years to come. Unless, of course, you drop it on a tile floor…When I first switched from disposable files to glass, it took a little getting used to. I didn’t like it at first but after using glass for about a week, I know now that I will never go back to paper files.
  • File in one direction. When I first heard this advice, I thought it was just one direction – ever. Then, after talking with Ana, I realized it’s one direction at a time. So, I’ll do a few strokes to the right and then a few strokes to the left.
    • Why? If you file your nail like a saw (back and forth and back and forth), it’s going to cause a lot of torque which can damage your nail. This torque can cause peeling and weakness in the nail.
  • File while your nails are still painted.
    • Why? This reduces tricks that your eyes play on you! Most of us don’t have symmetrical half moons and nail lines (where your nail is grown out past your finger). These asymmetrical lines will play tricks on you! If you file with bare nails, your eyes will want to follow these lines and then when you put on polish, your nails don’t look even or nicely shaped! Since we all want our nails to look even once polish is on, then you should file with polish on. That way, these tricky lines are covered and you can focus on what the shape will be at the end of a mani.


You might have noticed that I didn’t mention nail clippers in this article. Unless you want to take off a lot of length, you don’t need them. 20 strokes per week will keep your nails at a consistent length. A few times, I did let my nails get way too long. In that case, I used clippers to take off just a millimeter or two. Then, I used a glass file to take it down the rest of the way to my desired length. It’s generally thought that clippers might encourage peeling since they are so hard on your nails. Therefore, I try to avoid them unless absolutely necessary. If you do use them, make sure to get ones that are as sharp as possible. Here are the ones I use from Amazon.

I hope you found this article helpful! (Especially you, Emily!) If you have more questions or something still doesn’t make sense, please let me know! Then, i will update the article! Thanks for stopping by!

How to Make Watermarble Decals

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Today I’m going to show you how I make watermarble decals! After I accidentally discovered this method, I vowed to never dunk my finger in water again! My watermarbles aren’t perfect, but they are a far cry better than what they used to look like and on top of that, clean up us a lot easier!

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Ocean Nail Art for Challenge Your Nail Art

It’s time for another piece of nail art for this month’s Challenge Your Nail Art theme! This month’s theme is Pirates. Yesterday’s prompt was sea creatures. You can see the mermaid nail art I did by clicking here. Today’s prompt is oceans! I thought of doing an underwater scene, but since I’ve done that before, I wanted to try something new. Then, I saw an image as I was flipping through my Cici&Sisi plates and I saw something that reminded me of the froth when the ocean water hits the sand. I was suddenly inspired to do a frothy, seafoam mani! I started out with three coats of piCture pOlish better which I received from them as part of BloggerFest earlier this year. Then, I did a gradient using piCture pOlish Sea Jewel. The gradient is more subtle than what my head thought it would be, but I like the look of it away.


Here is what the gradient looked like prior to the stamping portion of this nail art.



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Fuzzy Little Monster – piCture pOlish Blog/Insta Fest 2014!!!!

I’ve been keeping a secret!!!!!!!! I was selected to participate in piCture pOlish Blog/Insta Fest 2014!! The prize for 5 winners will be to collaborate on a custom shade.  Doesn’t that just sound completely dreamy? This year piCture pOlish teamed up with as part of the challenge.

blog fest 2014 logo sml

In addition to the two polishes I was to use for the challenge, piCture pOlish also sent me Bette. Let’s take a look at this gem first! I like to think they sent me piCture pOlish Bette because I’m Betty’s Beauty Bombs, but I might be reading too much in to it. :P





Bette is a light, sky blue with holographic shimmers. I did three thin coats here to ensure there was no visible nail line. I’m so thrilled they sent me this one! It’s so gorgeous!


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