Hiiii! I’m Kara, I’m a licensed nail tech & nail educator and I’m here today to offer some practical tips for making your manicure PERFECT! I feel like there are so many factors that go into making your manicure work, look great, and last, but I want to focus on just a couple that I always get asked about! Let’s get into it.


How to make it perfect: 

  • Push your cuticles back with a cuticle pusher
    • This will expose more of your nail bed which gives you a larger surface area to paint on and it will also help you shape the base of your nail to make it more round/uniform, which actually helps get a cleaner paint line too! 
  • Trim the dead skin/hangnails around your cuticle area
    • I wrote an ENTIRE blog post about this process and how to safely do it HERE
    • It really cleans up the entire nail area, prevents additional hangnails, and gives you that salon perfect look!! 
  • Get a perfect line with polish around your cuticle
    • For regular polish, I think this really depends on the brush you’re using. I love wide, rounded brushes because they help you effortlessly get the polish in place without much fuss
    • For gel polish, sometimes I will use a liner brush with just a little bit of the color on it, and carefully perfect the cuticle line! It works like a charm 


How to make it perfect:

  • Smooth base coat
    • This is where self leveling builder gel helps SO much. Before I used it, my nail surface would be so bumpy and uneven and it was nearly impossible to get a smooth application of color. Builder gel is truly a magic product that makes colors pop and look so so beautiful
    • Learn how to apply builder gel HERE
    • Read more about builder gel & my exact process HERE
  • Thin coats of polish
    • Gel coats need to be thin enough for the light to penetrate through them in order for the the gel to cure properly. If it doesn’t cure properly, you could develop a gel allergy, but also your gel might get wavy/scrunch up and peel off super easily.
    • Learn how to properly apply gel color polish HERE


How to make it perfect:

  • Before you cure your color, make sure that you don’t have any pooling gel or color on your skin! Once it’s cured, you’ll need to file it off so it doesn’t lift and you’ll be left with some stained gel on your skin. (PS - getting gel on your skin without cleaning it can also lead to allergies and issues down the line). It’s much easier to just clean it up as you go vs. deal with the aftermath! 
  • If you’re using regular polish, I highly suggest using a clean up brush & acetone to clean up any messy polish. Acetone works sooo much better than non-acetone products, trust! 


How to make it perfect:

  • Topcoat is essential for every manicure and making it last!! I also think it just gives your manicure the final *thing* that it needs to look complete! 
  • I always get asked how I keep my gel nails looking shiny after a few days, and the not-so-secret secret is using Kokoist Ultra Glossy Top Coat (use code KARA10 for 10% off)! I’ve literally never had an issue with it getting dull unless I literally buff it off! AND it lasts so long. 
  • For regular polish, I love using a quick drying / plumping top coat!! My faves are the Essie Gel Couture and Olive and June Super Glossy Top Coat


How to make it perfect:

  • If you aren’t using cuticle oil after you do your nails/daily, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? 
  • Especially, when you do a dry manicure, you nails and nail area are just begging to be rehydrated
  • It’s actually super important to keep your nails and cuticle hydrated to keep your nails healthy and keep them strong! When your nails have some flexibility, they will actually be able to flex and bend a little bit instead of just snapping and breaking if you accidentally hit them on something! 
  • Read more about the importance of after-care HERE and HERE!



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My favorite builder base gels

My favorite gel colors

My favorite gel top coat

My favorite prep tools

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