Expertly painted nails don't have to come from the salon -- you can score them yourself at home by learning a few polishing tricks. With the right technique, you won't need to fret about clumping polish, smudges or streaks. Instead, you'll end up with smooth, professional-looking nails that are sure to turn heads and draw compliments wherever you go. Stick with one color of polish until you've got the painting process down pat.

Step 1

Rub each of your nails with a nail buffer to smooth out the surface. Rub in one direction, from the cuticle up to the tip.

Step 2

Massage body lotion or cuticle softener into your cuticles. Press your cuticles down, then brush them in one direction, using a nail buffer.

Step 3

Wash your hands with lukewarm water and soap. Rinse hands, then dry them well with a towel.

Step 4

Brush each nail with a thin layer of a clear base coat, applying the coat from the cuticle up to the tip. Work your way from the left side of the nail to the right if you are right-handed, from right to left if you're a leftie. If you have long nails, apply a bit of base coat to the underside of your nail tips. Let the base coat dry for two minutes. A base coat helps your nail polish last longer.

Step 5

Open the bottle of your colored nail polish and pull the brush out. As you do this, drag the brush bristles against the rim of the bottle to remove excess polish, pressing down a bit so that the bristles fan out.

Step 6

Paint each nail with the colored polish using three strokes -- one down the middle, one down the left side and one down the right. With this technique, you're less likely to cause clumps or polish smears. Repeat this for all the nails on one hand, then paint the nails on your other hand.

Step 7

Let the nail polish dry for 2 minutes, then apply a second coat in the same way as the first. Again, wait 2 minutes for the polish to dry.

Step 8

Apply a fast-drying top coat in the same way that you applied the base coat. Do not touch anything until your nails have dried fully.