7 Insider secrets to make your at-home manicure look profesh

Dec 31, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. ET

Ah, the trials and tribulations of the at-home manicure. One moment, you're patting yourself on the back for your even-coated, steadily-applied nail job. The next, there are air-bubbles galore in your nearly-professional looking manicure. So what's a girl to do?

We all know that giving up your favorite DIY pampering ritual is out of the question. So, we dished with the experts Miss Pop, manicurist to the stars/nail visionary, and Maria Vlezko, editor of the essential blog SoNailicious.com, on ways to avoid the occupational hazards of the at-home manicure, and to keep your nails healthy and robust.

1. Bust those bubbles

Nail polish preparation

To oust the air bubbles, you'll want to avoid shaking your nail polish to mix up the color. Roll it between your palms instead. "Shaking polish forces air into the lacquer, where it gets trapped and causes your polish to bubble," says Miss Pop. Vlezko also recommends that polish thinner will reduce the risk of bubbling.

2. Keep chipping at bay

Chipped nails

Applying a base coat will always help to stave off chipping. In addition to preventing your claws from staining, this measure helps your polish adhere to your nails. "It might seem like an annoying extra step," Miss Pop says, "but it gives your shade an extra few days of staying power." Also, a quick buff job will prevent chipping and help the polish adhere to your nails. Prior to applying your base coat, lightly buff your nails to "remove the natural oils and help the mani adhere," says Miss Pop.

3. Nail polish application no-nos

Painting nails

As Miss Pop tells us, you don’t want to overdo it with too many thick coats. "Don’t glob on the polish," she says, "The more coats, the longer it will take to dry and the shorter the mani will last. If a polish is old or too sheer from thinning it, toss it out and start fresh." Essentially, you're best off using a thick polish and fewer coats. Also, beware the effects of hot water, which Miss Pop calls the "natural enemy" of nail polish. She advises wearing gloves to wash the dishes, and to avoid doing your nails right before you shower or "your wear time will be off to a weak start."

4. Non-acetone polish remover is your friend

Non-acetone nail polish remover

When removing your nail polish, try to avoid polish removers with acetone in them. Miss Pop tells us, "It may take a little longer to remove, but it's less drying to the nail bed."

5. Invest in some cuticle oil

Cuticle oil

Both of our experts reached a general consensus: Cuticle oil is a miracle serum for keeping your nails healthy. It's Miss Pop's "must-have nail product" because it moisturizes your cuticles, guards against tearing, nourishes your nail bed and kills hangnails. According to Vlezko, "That’s where your nail health starts!"

6. File those claws regularly

Filing nails

This one's sort of a gimme, but filing your nails regularly (and correctly) will make all the difference! Miss Pop advises you to go in one direction to prevent splitting and breaking.

7. Have a generally healthy lifestyle

Cabbage rolls

If your diet isn't good, your nails are going to struggle to stay strong and healthy. So stay hydrated, eat fresh foods and be kind to your body.

Another important trade secret: Begin a vitamin regimen! Nature's Bounty, for example, is so confident in their Gummy Vite that if you don't see healthier hair, stronger nails and invigorated skin after 30 days of taking it, they're offering to pay you back in full. By entering, you also put yourself in the running to win a #NaturesBountyBeauty kit, with over $200 worth of beauty essentials to keep you healthy and gorgeous. Give it a whirl, guys. Your nails will thank you.

This post was sponsored by Nature's Bounty.

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