Love doing your nails but hate when you mess up? Getting a fail-proof manicure—whether it's a classic ruby red or extravagant rhinestone creation—is all about practice and knowing a few insider tricks. We spoke with Katie Cazorla, owner of The Painted Nail salon in Los Angeles and star of TV show Nail Files, about her favorite tips and tools for creating a flawless manicure.
Practice Makes Perfect
"Practicing designs and placing stones on something other than your nail—like artificial nail tips or small pieces of paper—is a great way to get better at nail art," says Katie. "It's good to start small. An easy beginner’s design is to make a circle of five dots, then use a toothpick to pull them all in toward the center and finish with a rhinestone, like a flower! It’s a good way to practice but it also gives a great result. Once you master it, try it on your nails or on a friend’s."
Beautylish recommends: Liquid Palisades. Use the tiny brush to paint this fast-drying gel onto the parts of your nail (like your cuticles), where you don't want polish. When you peel it off it will remove the unwanted nail polish, leaving the perfect shape. You can even use it to create cool nail designs!
Hydrate Your Nails
Making sure your fingertips are in good condition is an essential step in achieving a fail-proof manicure. Rough cuticles can make your manicure look unprofessional and unfinished. "I put cuticle oil on after I topcoat my mani and pedi," says Katie. "I apply a drop at the center of the cuticle and spread it toward both sides to give the polish extra shine and make it last longer. It's also great for freshening up a mani after a couple of days."
Beautylish recommends: The Painted Nail Sugar Cookie Cuticle Oil. “I apply this daily on my knuckles and cuticles to keep them moisturized,” says Katie.
Be Creative With Your Tools
Use acrylic paint and nail polish to create pretty designs, then go crazy and layer rhinestones, glitter, and lace to your nails. But be mindful of what you’ll use to apply the decals. “Tiny paintbrushes from art supply stores such as Michael's make painting designs super-easy,” says Katie. “It’s also wise to invest in a small spare brush to dip into polish remover to clean up polish that gets on your skin. I also love French brushes—nail art brushes with dotters on the other end. You can create beautiful effects and place rhinestones or crystals easily onto the nail with one tool."
Beautylish recommends: Revlon ColorStay Longwear Nail Enamel. This new polish (out in January) has the same glossy appeal as a gel or shellac manicure and lasts up to 11 days! It is removable with any drugstore polish remover and is the ideal long-lasting base for nail art.