Step 1: Shape by Clipping, Filing, and Buffing
A great manicure starts with the prep work. Think about how much time it takes the manicurist at the salon to clean, shape, and get your nails ready for polish application. "At home, go slow and really take your time," Tuttle said. "With proper prep, an at-home mani can last seven-plus days."
So, what does the proper prep include? Clipping, filing, and buffing. "It's all about the 90/10 rule: 90 percent of your shape comes from your nail clipper; 10 percent from filing," Tuttle said. Begin by cutting your nails to your desired shape before filing the edges gently.
"If you have polish on, all the better," Tuttle said. "Shaping with polish on helps you visualize the final shape without being distracted by the natural whites of the nails." Her pro tip: whether you have nail polish on or not, after you're done prepping your nails, be sure to wipe them clean with nail polish remover one last time. This will ensure there are no oils left on your nail and help the polish stick better.
"Once you've prepped your nails, avoid touching your face and hair," Tuttle said. "I also recommend avoiding washing your hands before you paint. Water expands your nail plate so when it evaporates it will contract and cause chips or cracking."