1. "Wow Liya what salon did you go to to get those nails" NONE. THATS RIGHT MOTHERFUCKERS.
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  2. Practice is a big component, but these are tips, techniques, and products I've found through lots of research and experimenting that've helped me get perfect nails that last up to a week.
  3. Start with clean nails
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    Rub some nail polish remover on bare nails first (I'm a fan of Essie's), or better yet, white vinegar to get them extra squeaky clean.
  4. To cuticle or not to cuticle, that is the question
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    Some people don't mind their cuticles, and that's fine. If you want them gone, pushing them up is always a good option. Snipping can be dangerous but effective, just be careful not to cut too deep. There's also cuticle dissolvers which I haven't tried yet but have only heard good things.
  5. Get messy!
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    Polish isn't meant to stick to skin, so any excess should rub right off in the shower. But you don't want too much polish accumulated at the cuticle and on the sides or else it'll lift up polish on the nail bed when you clean up. In that case, swipe off excess by gently running a small brush (ELF's professional concealer brush is cheap and does the trick) along the edge of the nail bed. You can also use a nail from the other hand, which I prefer when going around the cuticle for more precision.
  6. But I'm blessed with very steady hands, so you might want to try this glue trick instead
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    Just apply glue all around the nail, let it dry, paint, peel off! I find this a little too time consuming but it's a preferred method for many people.
  7. On applying base coat, polish, and top coats
    There are different techniques that work for different people, but I find one swipe down the middle and two on the sides works well. It'll take some experimenting to figure out how much product should be loaded on the brush as it varies by brand, but usually you'll need to wipe some off at the rim. The thumbs are a good place to start since there's more room for error.
  8. Also, rub the bottles back and forth between your palms before opening
    Doing this for about thirty seconds helps the product apply more smoothly.
  9. Don't forget to wrap the tip
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    This helps with chipping in a major way. As the picture shows, hold the brush, with just a little polish on it, at a 90 degree angle at the very tip and gently wipe side to side, coating the free edge of the nail. I like to do this with the base coat, polish, and top coat to be extra, extra careful.
  10. Base coats are a good idea, promise!
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    Having an extra fortifying layer between your nail and the polish will help with chipping and keep your nails from getting discolored. A cheap and perfectly fine option for me is Ulta's, but your nails might like another brand's better. OPI's and Essie's get good reviews for a place to start.
  11. Using nail polish
    Two coats at least, always. If you make an oopsie- missed a spot, left too much polish- fix it quickly and it's usually not a problem. Some brands are better than others, but plenty of drugstore options like Revlon and Sally Hansen are great and you can often find discounts. Higher end brands that are fantastic include Essie, Debora Lippman, Butter London, and a bunch of others you probably see all the time.
  12. Top coat
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    SUPER important. If you're not going to do a base coat, at least do a top coat, every time. My OG to end all OGs is Sally Hansen Insta Dri. Seriously, go buy it.
  13. Now stick your hands in ice cold water
    BEAUTY IS PAIN but really you only have to do this for about a minute or so. Just get a small bowl with lots of ice and some water, stick your fingers in, and the polish should be as dry as if you waited around for an hour.
  14. If you still have some cleaning up to do post shower/glue peeling, that elf brush can help you out.
    Just dip it into a bottle of nail polish remover, rub it over a spot, and you're done!
  15. Now go show the world your bomb-ass nails and be free and happy and live a long, fruitful life of compassion and peace without paying too much at salons.