Colouring inside the lines – Selina's guide to applying nail polish
I’m a nail polish obsessive. I may have mentioned that already. My collection numbers in the hundreds, and I change my polish every day. So I’ve gotten pretty good at this nail painting business, even if I do say so myself.
I thought I’d share with you my nail polish application tips, because it’s not
so long ago – pre obsession days – that when I applied my polish it ended up all over my cuticles. And my fingers. And the couch. And the cat.
First of all, you want to find the position that works for you. Do you find it easier to sit at a table? On the couch? Cross-legged on the floor? Experiment with different positions (fnaarrr *snigger*) until you find the position that suits you – you’ll probably find you’re steadier with your application if you can have your elbows supported in some way.
Next, like a good painter, you want to prepare your canvas. By which I mean nails. So, make sure your cuticles are neat and pushed back – you’ll have more nail area to paint by doing this and you’ll be able to get a neater edge on your polish without messy cuticles getting in the way. Clean the surface of the nail – generally whatever nail polish remover you use will suffice for this but beware of moisturising nail polish removers as they may leave an oily residue which will prevent your polish from adhering. Make sure your nails and cuticles are dry.
It goes without saying that a good base coat and top coat are essential – my favourites are CND Stickey/Orly Bonder base coats and Seche Vite / INM Out the Door top coats. Base and top coats are a whole post in themselves, suffice it to say that the application method is the same for base coat, polish and top coat.
So, you’re sitting comfortably and your nails are clean and tidy, you’re ready to start with the exciting bit. But before you open that bottle of polish don’t, whatever you do, shake the bottle. If the polish looks like it needs mixing then roll the bottle between your hands. Shaking it will produce tiny air bubbles which will show up on your nails and we don’t want that. If your polish has separated and has to be shaken then allow it to sit for a while before using so all the air bubbles can rise to the top.
Paint the nails of your dominant hand first, for instance I’m left-handed so I paint my left hand first. There’s less chance of cacking-up your already painted nails when you go on to the other hand this way.
When you take the brush from the bottle wipe any excess polish on the inside of the bottle neck as you pull it out. I can’t tell you how much you need on your brush, this really is trial and error and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. Although just to be annoying it will differ from polish to polish depending on their consistency. It’s really a figure-it-out-as-you-go-along kind of thing. I find I get best results from only wiping off one side of the brush, then the side of the brush with polish is the side that I use for application.
Now you want to hold the polish brush almost parallel to the nail and centred
and place it gently onto the nail so that the tip of the brush is about 1mm away from your cuticle:
Allow the brush bristles to fan out (maintaining the 1mm gap so that there’s no messy cuticles to clean up), and then paint your first stripe down the centre of the nail. Keep your brush parallel to the nail, it should ‘float’ on top of the polish so that the polish is guiding the brush, rather than the other way around:
Return your brush to the base of the nail and use the same technique to paint one side and then the other, guiding the brush so the edge of the bristles follows the curve of your nail:
Three brush strokes should be all you need to cover the entire nail, and the less brush strokes you use the less chance of your polish becoming tacky and streaky. Slowly and steadily is the key here. Obviously not so slowly that your polish starts to become tacky, but don’t rush.
And voila, one nicely painted nail. Now just nine more to do.
The polish in the pictures is O.P.I. Louvre Me, Louvre Me Not; a stunning dark fuschia with just a hint of shimmer. One of my very favourite colours. And thanks must go out to my very patient ex-husband for taking the pictures!