Monday, March 7, 2011

Reader Request - Polish Application Tips, Tricks and Tutorial

Hey Ladies,

The other day I got a comment on my post for Revlon's Gum Drop asking about application for harder to apply polishes. Rather than providing a brief explanation, I decided to dedicate a post to application of nail polish.

First of all I just would like to thank the commenter (she was anonymous) for your kind words and request. I can definitely provide you with some tips for applying lighter, thick cream and/or sheer shades. Although the request was for a video tutorial, I have never done one before and would not know how I would go about doing one... plus I am a little camera shy, so for now I have included a step by step photo tutorial.

The key to good application with troublesome polishes is patience. For a colour like gum drop I applied thin coats one by one with a short wait time in between. I also added more coats then I usually do (The norm for me is 2, but this time I did 4) to even out application.

If you choose to do 3 or more coats of polish, I highly recommend using a quick dry top coat to ensure that the polish dries properly and you don't end up with and dents or marks.

If I find a polish is too thick for application, in this case the commenter was referring to For Audry, (more recently for me, Sea Spray from the Anchors Away collection), I apply some nail polish thinner before application.

Nail polish thinner is pretty cheap and can be easily found in beauty supply stores. I personally use the one from Sally's, it's a decent price for the amount that your receive since you only need a few drops per bottle. I usually give the polish a shake after applying the thinner and check the consistency. If it is still not right, I add some more thinner until I get the desired consistency.

Once your have your polish prepared, you are ready for application. Below I have listed the steps I take when applying polish. For this tutorial I used China Glaze, Emerald Fitzgerald on a fake nail to demonstrate.

First, I wipe any access polish from one side of my brush on the side of the bottle.

Next, I place the brush about a centimeter above the cuticle...

...and gently push down towards the cuticle without touching it. This helps to create a curve at the base of the nail.

Note: The size of the gap you leave between the ail and cuticle is up to you. Since I am working with a fake nail I left a larger gap for demonstration purposes only, prefer a small gap.

This is how it looks with the brush removed

I then pull the brush up in a straight line towards the tip of the nail

Repeat the same for the left side of the line of polish you've just created...

and right side of the nail while making sure that the base of the polish follows the same curve of the cuticle.

For prolonged wear, I wrap my tips. This consists of applying some polish directly to the tip of the nail.

When a polish does not offer full coverage in 3 swipes or is not even, I may apply some additional small quick strokes to even the polish up.

After applying to all fingers, leave some time to dry and then repeat the whole process as necessary until you are happy with the opacity.

Usually I find that if the polish is still acting up or doesn't look even, I use a nice coat of Seche Vite to seal and even everything out and help to dry quickly.

I also wrap the tips when applying top coat to my nails.

Now, no one is perfect, and I usually end up with some polish on my skin, mostly on my right hand since am right handed. Some tips I have to clean up include:

- dip a brush in to acetone and clean as needed
- a great tip on brushes I found recently at R3 Daily was to cut your brush on an angle so you have a tip which is more precise with clean up.
- apply lotion to your skin (not nails) before applying the polish. If polish gets on your skin, you can just use an orange wood stick to gently scratch the polish off
- take a shower or wash your hands in warm water with soap when your polish has fully dried. your skin absorbs the water and the polish will come off with an orange wood stick as in the previous tip.

With practice, application will become easier, I really used to suck at it! Also, take your time and move slowly, your application will be more accurate.

I think that is the best advice that I can offer, hope I helped! Let me know if you have any other questions or tutorial requests.


  1. Love your tips and great tutorial for this.

    Have you read the side of your top coat? I was going to get some until I read "may cause birth defects or reproductive issues".

  2. no problem ladies.

    Christine - i actually never read that before, thanks for letting me know! I kind of freaked out a littler bit when I read it and told my sister. she said that there are a lot of products with that disclaimer and it's no big deal, that they have to state that specifically for California. That being said it still kind of scares me a bit. thanks for bringing that to my attention

  3. I'm the anonymous commenter lol I was in a huge rush and didn't know which option to choose! Thanks a bunch for this tutorial! I'm stopping at Sally's tonight to get some thinner and then I'm going to try "For Audrey" with your technique :)

  4. Sharon - Awesome, I'm glad I helped! For Audrey was one of the first China Glaze polishes I purchased and I remember having some issues with it as well. the thinner should help, and remember to seal everything with a thick top coat to even everything out.

  5. Sorry Danielle didn't mean to scare you - just haven't had a chance to research it myself yet and was wondering if you had.

  6. This is a great post! The nice thing about polish application is that you really do get much better with practice.

  7. Christine - nah, you didn't scare me, just made me more aware. I definitely want to look in to this more.

    Zara - thanks, that's so true. I have definitely gotten way better at application since I have been polishing my nails more.


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