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10 Game-Changing Nail Secrets Only Manicurists Know

Giving yourself a great manicure—one free of glops, dents, and spills on your couch—is far from easy. So while we were hanging out backstage during Fashion Month, we took matters into our own hands and asked every top nail artist we spotted for their most life-changing tips. Good news: We got a lot out of them. Grab a polish, and get ready to paint. We have faith in you.

Secret #1: It’s really worth buying cuticle oil.
When your nails look sad and you don’t have time for a full manicure, Jin Soon Choi, who founded her eponymous nail line, swears by cuticle oil to moisturize dry skin and give your mani a second wind. One worth trying: Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($9, amazon.com). “Or if you don’t have cuticle oil at home, olive oil or coconut oil will also work perfectly,” she says. Just massage a few drops around each nail and they’ll look refreshed.

Secret #2: Add special effects during your dry time.
If you follow Gigi Hadid on Instagram, you’ve likely seen the insanely cool chrome nails she wore to the Met Gala. Celebrity manicurist Gina Edwards is just obsessed with the high-shine, reflective nail trend as we are (and so are Mei Kawajiri and Miss Pop) and says you can easily get the look while your topcoat dries. “Apply a long lasting topcoat like Morgan Taylor React ($9, amazon.com) and let it dry for four minutes,” she says. “Then while it’s still tacky, apply a chrome or holographic nail powder using a foam eyeshadow applicator.” Finish with another layer of topcoat.

Secret #3: Eyeliner brushes make the best erasers.
“My best nail hack is taking a flat liner brush dipped in remover like Morgan Taylor Strip Ease ($6, loxabeauty.com) and swiping around the cuticle area once I’ve finished my polish application,” says Edwards. “It creates a flawless finish.” Bonus: You won’t spend the rest of the day trying to pick dried polish off your skin.

PHOTO: Getty Images

Secret #4: Use painter’s tape for negative space manis.
“Lay down the tape in the shape you want to ‘cut out’ of your nail color,” says celebrity nail artist Miss Pop. “Then, apply a base coat and two coats of polish around the tape. When you peel it off, you’re left with an awesome negative space manicure [one of our favorite nail trends for fall] without any Picasso-like skills.”

Secret #5: Cocktails aren’t just for happy hour.
Arnold mixes her own nail-nourishing cocktail to keep her nails from breaking and help them grow long. “I love to mix the CND Cuticle Eraser AHA Cuticle Treatment ($11, ulta.com) and the CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner ($8.50, amazon.com) and apply it to my nails twice a day.”

Secret #6: Wear ridge filler when your nails need a break.
If your nails are looking a little worn or rough, bring them back to life with ridge filler. Nail artist Naomi Yasuda paints one coat of Inglot Ridge Filler ($11, inglotusa.com) onto each nail for a matte, neutral finish that makes nails look smooth and clean.

PHOTO: Gonzalo Marroquin

Secret #7: Use white polish as a primer.
If you really want a bright color to pop, manicurist Geraldine Holford suggests using a white polish first. She applies two coats of Priti NYC White Ballet Dahlia ($13.75) as a base and then layers neon polish over the top for the most eye-catching nails.

Secret #8: If you’re in a rush, pick a sheer shade.
“If you’re running out the door, choose a sheer because it’s dummy proof,” Essie Global Lead Educator Rita Remark says. Just one coat works to give your nails new life. But if you’re going with full-on color, make sure to stick to the basics: a base, two coats of polish, and a top coat.

Secret #9: Treat your nail care like skin care.
Ever wonder how those women with long almond nails keep them from breaking? “It requires constant care; It’s TLC,” Remark told us. That obviously sounds like a lot of work, but think of it like this: “During your nighttime routine, add a step in to take care of your nails. So when you’re done with your face, put on cuticle oil after that.”

PHOTO: Essie

Secret #10: Simple nails often make the biggest impact.
Celebrity nail artists Rose Velez-Miggins, Naomi Gonzalez-Longstaff, and Jin Soon Choi all agree you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to still make a statement. Gonzalez-Longstaff loves creamy pastels, especially soft pinks, Velez-Miggins likes a mixture of pale shades and earthy tones that flatter all different skin tones, and Choi is all about androgynous colors (think: greige and browns) with a squoval (square-ish oval) tip. (See the best versions of all of them here.)

In other nail advice, check out:
You’re Putting On Glitter Nail Polish All Wrong
20 New Fall Nail Polish Colors You’ll Want to Instagram the Hell Out Of
16 Mistakes You’re Making When Painting Your Nails

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東京 University Of Tokyo. Creative Writer & Thinker. Music fanatic. I love my dog. Born & bred in Japan but frequent Los Angeles. Beauty & Fashion is my genre

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