Some Game-Changing Nail Secrets Only Manicurists Know

Giving yourself the perfect manicure ain’t easy. Not only do you have to wait forever between coats of polish to avoid bubbling (while somehow managing to sit still and not touch anything for the 30+ minute affair), but attempting something creative can often end with more polish on your hands/carpet than actual nails. Good news: While we were hanging out backstage during Fashion Month, we asked a few of the most in-demand nail artists in the beauty industry for their top at-home mani tips. So save yourself the trip to the salon, DIY it, and use the money you saved on a bottle of wine or new set of polishes. (Or both.) We have faith in you!

Secret #1: Cuticle oil is a lifesaver.
When your nails look sad and you don’t have time for a full manicure, Jin Soon Choi, who founded her eponymous nail line, swears by cuticle oil to moisturize dry skin and give your mani a second wind. One worth trying: Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($9, “Or if you don’t have cuticle oil at home, olive oil or coconut oil will also work perfectly,” she says. Just massage a few drops around each nail and voilà—they’ll look refreshed in a flash.

Secret #2: Add special effects during your dry time.
If you follow Gigi Hadid on Instagram, you’ve likely seen the insanely cool chrome nails she wore to the Met Gala this year. Celebrity manicurist Gina Edwards is just obsessed with the high-shine, reflective nail trend as we are (and so are Mei Kawajiri and Miss Pop) and says you can easily get the look while your topcoat dries. “Apply a long lasting topcoat like Morgan Taylor React ($9, and let it dry for four minutes,” she says. “Then while it’s still tacky, apply a chrome or holographic nail powder using a foam eyeshadow applicator.” Finish with another layer of topcoat to seal in the sci-fi look.

PHOTO: Getty Images for CND

Secret #3: Your manicure doesn’t need to match.
Jan Arnold, Co-Founder & Style Director of CND, let us in on the newest trend in nail art: Call it the split-style mani, and it’s all about contrast. “The key is to have high contrast in both texture and color,” Arnold says. “One hand can be soft and bright, while the other is dark and edgy.” The best part: You no longer have to worry about choosing between your two favorite colors—just wear one on each hand!

Secret #4: Eyeliner brushes make the best erasers.
“My best nail hack is taking a flat liner brush dipped in remover like Morgan Taylor Strip Ease ($6, and swiping around the cuticle area once I’ve finished my polish application,” says manicurist Gina Edwards. “It creates a flawless finish.” Bonus: You won’t spend the rest of the day trying to pick dried polish off your skin.

PHOTO: Getty Images

Secret #5: Painter’s tape isn’t just for your walls.
“Lay down the tape in the shape you want to ‘cut out’ of your nail color,” says celebrity nail artist Miss Pop. “Then, apply a base coat and two coats of polish around the tape. When you peel it off, you’re left with an awesome negative space manicure [one of our favorite nail trends for fall] without any Picasso-like skills.” Genius!

PHOTO: Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows

Secret #6: Simple nails often make the biggest impact.
Celebrity nail artists Rose Velez-Miggins, Naomi Gonzalez-Longstaff, and Jin Soon Choi all agree you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to still make a statement, so if you prefer subdued nails, rock ’em. Gonzalez-Longstaff loves creamy pastels, especially soft pinks, Velez-Miggins likes a mixture of pale shades and earthy tones that flatter all different skin tones, and Jin Soon is all about androgynous colors (think: greige and browns) with a squoval (square-ish oval) tip. (See the best versions of all of them here.)

Secret #7: Cocktails aren’t just for happy hour.
Arnold mixes her own nail-nourishing cocktail to keep her nails from breaking and help them grow long. “I love to mix the CND Cuticle Eraser AHA Cuticle Treatment ($11, and the CND SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner ($8.50, and apply it to my nails twice a day.”

In other nail advice, check out:
-You’re Putting On Glitter Nail Polish All Wrong
-20 New Fall Nail Polish Colors You’ll Want to Instagram the Hell Out Of
-16 Mistakes You’re Making When Painting Your Nails