How to Avoid Getting Nail Polish on the Sides of Your Fingers

Given that you learned to color inside the lines so early in life, you'd think you'd be good at it long before adulthood. But when applying nail polish, it's easy to find yourself once again going outside the lines. Like most things, the more often you paint your nails, the better you will be at keeping the polish where you want it. In the meantime, there are a few tricks that can make it a little easier to keep your fingers clean.

Hoard brushes. The more you like a particular nail polish color, the more likely it is to have a cheap brush. When you find a nail polish application brush you like, wash it out and keep it when the polish bottle is empty. That way you will have a nice brush to use when you find a great color with a not-so-great brush.

Lay your hand flat when painting your nails. It is hard to hold your hands perfectly still when they are not lying flat against a table or other solid surface. 
The odds of painting your nail instead of your finger are better if you aren't aiming for a moving target.

Avoid using too much polish at once. Each nail should be painted with three brush strokes -- one down the middle and one on each side. 

Wipe the brush on the sides of the bottle until you have only the amount of polish you need to do one stroke.

Apply a bit of pressure to the brush when applying polish. Quality nail polish brushes will fan out with a bit of pressure. This helps spread the polish out over the surface of the nail and keeps it from running or dripping onto your skin.

Keep the nail polish remover handy. Even professional manicurists sometimes color outside the lines. When mistakes happen, a paper towel or cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover makes a great eraser. If you accidentally take some polish off of your nail while cleaning your skin, wipe away all of the polish from that nail and paint it again.

While applying perfect polish still takes some practice, utilizing these tips will make the application process much easier. With the right techniques and a little time, you'll be painting like a pro.


  1. Linda Rose: The Perfect Woman's Manicure   
  2. Cosmopolitan: Paint Nails Professionally at Home 
  3. Hints and Things: Ten Steps to Give Yourself an At Home Manicure 
  4. "The Complete Nail Technician"; Marian Newman; 2005

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