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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.