Skip to main content

Featured post

OPI Power of Hue Summer 2022 Collection Swatches & Live Swatch

10% Off Code: MBTracey


How I Paint My Nails with Regular Nail Polish


Today I wanted to chat a little about how I paint my nails.

I get a lot of questions about how I am able to paint them and keep everything looking so neat and clean. My trick is not really a trick but that it's just a lot of practice. Yes, practice. I've had about 10+ years of painting practice and sometimes I still mess up because I gauge it wrong, I think the formula is going to be a little less runny than it is, or I think I need more polish than I actually do and things of that nature. It's hard to really give advice but what I can do is tell you what I do and hopefully some of it is useful for you. 😊

OPI Do You Take Lei Away

I always follow the same routine when painting my nails. Prep, base coat, polish coat(s) and top coat.

So first step is the prep. I get all of the polishes/tools I will need and place them where I will be painting my nails, that way I have everything I need up front and there's less chance of messing up my mani trying to find everything as I go. After that I will remove my old polish (I don't always wear a coloured polish but I at least always have a base and top coat on at all times), file my nails and buff if required (see my nail care routine here), and go wash my hands and dry them thoroughly. Right before painting my nails, I will use a cotton round with a little bit of nail polish remover on it and just wipe each nail so I can make sure that my nails are nice and clean.

Next I put on my base coat. I use Yellow Stopper when I'm not swatching as I use it to help brighten my nails and also as my peel off basecoat. It's not sold as a peel-off basecoat but I use it as one and it works well for me. I always use a basecoat to minimize staining and help protect my natural nails. If I am worried that the polish is too pigmented, I'll use a double basecoat. I paint on a thin coat on all 10 nails and don't wait to put on my next coat. In fact, I don't wait for any of my polishes to dry before starting my next coat because I use thin layers of polish and I use Seche Vite* as my fast drying top coat. It does an excellent job of drying quickly, drying all of the layers and providing a glossy finish for my mani - which I love.

When I paint my nails, I err on the side of using less polish rather than more. It's easier to build up the nail polish if required and harder to do the appropriate clean up when I take too much. Of course once you start laying down the polish, if it's too thick, you can always wipe off the excess before continuing. The first coat of the coloured polish always takes the longest because that's when I'm laying down the edging and I pay more attention to that so I can be a little faster on the second coat. The first coat will help guide you for you second coat as well so it's important to take care at this step.

To paint your nails, completely wipe off the one side of the brush when you are taking it out of the bottle and don't leave enough on that will form a full droplet to drop back into the polish bottle. If that happens, you know you've taken too much. Just put the brush back in and try again. You want to leave a little bead on the un-wiped side but take enough for you to be able to cover your nail without having to redip the brush. It will take time and practice to really know how much polish you need for your own nail. 

When doing the actual painting of my nail, I touch the brush 3/4 of the way to my cuticle and push the polish down to my cuticle line, this helps to create a nice line and also to not flood my cuticles. I stop just before reaching my cuticle line and brush the polish down the length of my nail. Then I do the sides. Typically I keep it to 3 brush strokes per nail because the more you swipe, the more it'll mess up the polish, especially if it's a faster drying polish.

Once your first coat is down the second coat is a little easier. I use the same 3/4 technique for the second coat and then I clean up with a brush dipped in some acetone or nail polish remover if required. I almost never have to do clean up anymore though, I am pretty careful when I paint mostly because I very much dislike doing clean up πŸ˜… 

Once all 10 nails are done with your coloured polish, then you can go in and add your top coat remembering to seal the free edge of your nail. This will help make your mani last longer and protect the nail polish underneath from dents/scrapes. Not all top coats are created equally though so you'll want to find one that works for you if you don't like Seche Vite*. I recommend one that is fast drying and doesn't drag 😊

When painting with your non-dominant hand, anchor your painting hand on the table/sturdy surface and move your dominant hand to help with the painting. This will take a lot more practice and I still sometimes feel a little unsteady painting with my non-dominant hand. πŸ˜† I'll keep practicing thoughπŸ˜‰

Well that's it! Hopefully some of this is helpful for you! If you take nothing else from this post, just remember that practicing is the most important thing you can do to have nice self-painted nails. 😊

If you like my work and want to support me so I can continue to bring you nail polish content and videos, please consider:
~ subscribing to my YouTube channel 
~ donating directly to my PayPal (saving for that 4K camera! πŸ’“)
~ shopping through my Amazon* link
~shopping through my other affiliates*

As always, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to check out my little corner 😊 Feel free to leave me comments/suggestions/feedback below.


* Items purchased through my affiliate links may earn me a commission - Thank you for your support!! πŸ’—
*Use my code MBTracey for 10% off at Beyond Polish & Beyond Polish Canada {restrictions apply}


20% Off Code: MBTracey20