How to Make Nail Polish Look Smooth

A perfect manicure gives you a polished look.

Photo: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

You know the self-manicure scenario -- you're brushing on the top coat when you discover that the nail polish has dried bumpy and uneven. To avoid this frustrating experience the next time you pamper yourself at home, start with smooth nails. The process can take just minutes, and saves you a nail polish re-do in the future.

Remove Old Polish

Old, chipping nail polish can sabotage your current manicure and make it less-than-smooth. Dip a cotton ball into a nail polish remover, and rub it over each nail until all traces of last week's color disappears. To remove the polish like a pro, saturate the cotton ball with remover and push it across your nails in long swipes, from root to tip. If you're wearing a dark polish, you may need to use more than one cotton ball to remove all of the color. Wash your nails and pat them dry to remove any debris.

Apply Ridge Filler

The secret to getting a smooth fingernail surface is applying a ridge-filler base coat. The specialized treatment fills in any nail ridges so the polish goes on evenly. Prime your nails for the perfect manicure by brushing on a thin layer of the base coat and allowing it to dry for approximately two minutes before applying the color.

Paint Your Nails

Get enviable, smooth nails by brushing on a thin layer of polish and allowing it to dry for two minutes. Apply the polish in three long strokes, starting in the center of a nail and following up in each side. Allow the polish to dry for two minutes before applying the second, and final, coat of polish. Finish up with a clear top coat if you desire.

Follow-Up Care

Keep your manicure smooth and polished looking by giving your nails plenty of TLC after the polish is applied. Avoid direct heat, such as from a hairdryer, for 12 hours after the manicure to allow the polish to fully harden; soft polish has a tendency to chip and look bumpy. Massage cuticle oil into your nails daily to keep them smooth and moisturized.

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