Tips and Tricks

Whitening nails
Blue and yellow polishes always look nice, but once you remove them, they can be a real nightmare. Many polishes stain the nails yellow, and some blues leave the terrible "smurf nail" effect.While there's no real way to prevent this (other than using different polish next time) there are some ways you can return your nails back to their original color. Here are my favorites:

- Lemon Juice. Put a little bit of lemon juice into a small bowl and soak your nails in it for five to ten minutes. I've heard that using the juice straight from a lemon works better than using some from a store-bought bottle. You can also cut a lemon in half and stick your right handed fingers into one and left ones into the other half.

- Toothpaste.  Rub a little bit of whitening toothpaste on your nails, dip an old toothbrush into water, and scrub the toothpaste in for five to ten minutes. You can also combine the toothpaste with the lemon juice to get an even stronger effect.

- Buffing nails. This only removes the stains on the surface of your nails, but it's worth a try before you walk around the house for ten minutes with toothpaste on your fingers. Gently buff each nail for about thirty seconds. If you can't get all the stains out, don't keep buffing. That can wear through your nails and cause damage and breakage.

Saran Wrap Nails
This is a really fun technique that can leave a really interesting design on your nails, but if it's not done right it looks really bad. Here are my step-by-step tips for getting your saran wrap mani perfect the first time.

- Paint your base color on as normal, and let it dry completely. This is probably the most important step because if your base color isn't dry, you're going to pull part of it up when you start the saran wrap part. I'd suggest painting your first color on one day and doing the rest of the design the next day.

- Tear your pieces of saran wrap before hand. The pieces should be about 3 inches, both wide and long. You can use scissors or tear the saran wrap yourself- whatever you're more comfortable with. Cut ten pieces and crumble them all up as much as you can.

- Paint the top color. Make sure it contrasts well with the base color. Lay down one thick coat (just one. You don't want it to try before you start the next step.) You'll want to do this, along with the next step, one nail at a time.

- Dab away! Take your already-prepared pieces of saran wrap and dab it onto the nail. It's going to pull up some of the top color, so don't be worried. Keep dabbing around until you're satisfied with how it looks.

- Repeat for the other nails. If you're feeling brave, try mixing it up by switching your base color and top color for your accent nails.

- Time for clean-up! If you accidentally got any polish onto your skin, use a small brush or cotton swab soaked in polish remover to clean it up.

- Add a top coat. Let the nails dry a little bit before this step to prevent smearing. When you're ready, slather on that top coat and admire your beautiful saran wrap nails.

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Tape Manicures
Tape manicures, once mastered, open a huge door of opportunity for new designs. There are a few common mistakes that can happen easily, though, so I'll list the ones I've heard about (and done) along with the solutions.

- Paint your base color. Use whatever amount of coats you need to make the base evenly colored.

- Let it dry completely. If you're in a rush, you can use a drying method listed below. However, it's usually easier to paint the base color one day and finish your design the next day.

- Lay down the tape. You want the edge to be nice and even, which means that you shouldn't have any part of the tape wrinkled or sticking off of the nail. This will allow nail polish to get under the tape and make the design uneven.

- Paint on the top color on the non-taped side of the nail. It's okay if you get some paint onto the tape, but try not to waste any by painting the entire nail if you only have a fourth of your nail un-taped.

- QUICKLY peel off the tape. You want to hurry because if the top color starts to dry, it will get stringy and the tape will peel off part of it. That will mean uneven lines, and those are never good!

- Wait before using a top coat. I've messed up countless tape manicures by putting a top coat on too soon and smearing the colors together.
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Dotting Tools
You can order fancy dotting tools online, but they're also really easy to make at home. Here are some different ways to make your own dotting tools.

- A pin and a pencil with a full eraser. Everyone has those old #2 pencils laying around that they're never going to use, so why not transform them into something helpful? You can make a dotting tool by taking a little pin (the ones with the little round ends that are used for sewing) and sticking the pointy end into the eraser end of your old pencil. You can find pins with different sized ends to get different sizes of dotting tools.

- The pencil end of a pencil. So this one isn't very creative, but it gets the job done in a pinch. All you have to do is dip the sharpened end of a pencil into some nail polish and, taa-daa! Instant dotting tool.

- A bobby pin. You know how bobby pins have one larger, rounded end? Bend the bobby pin until it's straight and you can use the round tip as a dotting tool.

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Drying Nails Quickly
Everyone loves beautiful, intricate nail designs, but we also HATE how long it takes for them to dry. There's nothing worse than thinking your nail masterpieces  are dry and then smudging them, so here are a few ways to get them to dry at lightning speed.

- The Pam Cooking Spray method. I swear by this. It sounds crazy, but once you try it, I promise you'll never sit through drying your nails the old fashioned way again. Let your nails dry for a few minutes on their own. Then hold a bottle of Pam Cooking Spray about six inches from your hands and spray each nail. Make sure to do this over a sink to prevent the excess spray from getting all over your kitchen! Don't touch anything for five to ten minutes,and then wash off your hands with soap and water to get rid of all the oil.

- The ice water method. Let your nails air-dry for a couple of minutes. Then fill up a bowl with ice cold water and soak your nails in it for five to ten minutes. Make sure not to bump your nails into the side of the bowl while you're soaking them!

Repairing Nail Breaks and Tears
You're all ready for a night out on the town when suddenly, your nail tears. It's been growing out for weeks and you can't stand to cut it off, but there's a tear halfway across your nail which will be sure to get caught on something! How do you fix it? Here's what I do every time this happens.

- Empty a tea bag. It can't be a used one! Don't waste that tea - dump the tea leaves from the bag into a tea strainer and make yourself a nice warm cup.

- Cut off a piece of the bag. It should be a bit larger than the size of the tear.

- First apply nail glue into the tear. Unless it's dangling by a thread, you should be able to lift up the teared part a bit, put some glue in there, and press it back down to make the nail nice and strong.

- Put down more nail glue. You want it to cover the tear and the area that you'll be putting the piece of tea bag onto.

- Quickly place down the tea bag piece. Use tweezers or CAREFULLY use your fingers to put it into the correct position. It should completely cover the tear. Press it down into the glue using the tweezers or a toothpick.

- Lay down another layer of nail glue. Make sure that you cover the entire tea bag piece.

- Let everything dry. There's nothing worse than smudging your nail glue or getting stuck to something.

- Buff out your nail. If any edges of the patch are sticking up a little bit, use a nail buffer to smooth them down.

- Use two layers of base coat instead of one, or use a ridge filler. If your patch is pretty smooth on your nail, this shouldn't be a problem, but if it's kind of bumpy, you'll want a few more layers of base coat to make sure you can't see it through your design later. I recommend a ridge filler to even everything out.

- Soak in acetone to remove. Using the tin foil method works the best. This means, though, that if you don't want to remove that patch, don't use the tin foil method to remove normal polish on that nail - it might just take off your nail patch as well.

Any other tips or tricks you'd like to see? Let me know in the comments!

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