How to Apply Nail Polish Without Streaks

Avoid painting your nails when you're rushed.
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It's fun to express your creativity with nail polish, but streaks and smudges can ruin your paint job fast. If your polish isn't perfect, don't fret -- mistakes happen even for experienced nail artists. You don't need to head to the salon for streak-free tips, though. When it comes to painting your nails, patience really is a virtue. Just letting your polish dry fully between coats, for example, works wonders to ward off streaks.

Dip a cotton ball in nail-polish remover, then wipe your nails with it to erase any previous color. If small flakes of old polish are stuck to your nails, they'll cause streaking.

Apply a ridge-filling base coat to your nails. If you're painting nails white or an opaque light color, use a polish with a milk base. Otherwise, opt for a clear base coat. Let the coat dry for two to three minutes to prevent streaking.

Paint nails with a thin coat of your desired color. After painting each nail, dip the brush back into the polish so it doesn't have time to dry. Tacky polish is a major cause of streaks, so keeping the brush wet will help you avoid them. Wait for the polish on your nails to dry completely.

Apply a second, slightly thicker coat of the same color. Let it dry. If you notice any streaks, paint a very thin coat of polish over the nail to hide them.

Wait for your nails to dry, then apply a clear top coat. This bonds the layers of polish together and helps hide imperfections. It also keeps polish from chipping or fading quickly.

  • Avoid painting nails just before bed. Tacky nails may get smudged on the sheets or blankets.
  • Paint your nails when you're not in a hurry. Rushing can make a paint job look sloppy.
  • Light shades and frosted nail colors hide imperfections well.

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.