Now i don't think a nail tech should be saying this, but i think a well done manicure looks better than acrylic nails any day of the week. And i REALLY shouldn't be saying this...you CAN do it at home!! here's a few tips....
-Clip your nails all to the SAME length! nothing looks worse than that one stray long nail.
-Soak your nails. (and do this AFTER clipping, if you do it before you will cause tearing and ripping of the nail.) I always thought this step was pointless, but it REALLY helps on the next step, which is pushing back your cuticles. this makes your manicure look SO much more professional. but only do it when your cuticles are soft, otherwise you can cause tearing and splitting at the nail base, which in no bueno.
-USE A BASECOAT!!! i promise this does WONDERS! it bonds the polish to your nail and helps with chipping and cracking, as well as preventing dark polishes from staining your nail! choose one that says 'milky basecoat'
-Use a good polish. Personally, i like Orly, and OPI. but any nail LACQUER (not 'nail color') will work. The only walmart brand i even buy now is Sally Hansen hard as Nails Xtreme Wear. I guess if you are in a pinch, NYC is a decent brand, but if you can get it, OPI and ORLY are the best!
-Now here is the painting technique. First, paint one wide strip down the center of your nail. then fill in the sides and WAIT! Let that coat dry, don't try and paint over and over it while its still wet, thats when you get the 'gooey' look. not pretty. add a second coat, and after that dries, if you feel like it needs another, add one more, but never do over 3 coats. Now, IMPORTANT STEP ALERT! after your last coat, while it is still a little tacky, take your polish and do a thin strip across the very tip of your nail. not on top, but on the tip. This will help prevent the chipping and cracking.
-Apply a top coat. Yes think works! and keep aplying it every few days. it will help prevent chips, and keep your polish looking shiny.
-Now heres the kicker... nail polish takes anywhere from 6 to 8 HOURS to dry! even if the top feels dry, if you bump it on a hard surface it will crinkle of smudge. my tip, paint them before bed, or church if you have time, or any time that gives you a few hours of limited acrivity.
-What if your polish does crack? paint over it IMMEDIATLY! and finish with a top coat. if you wait, the chip/crack will just keep getting worse and worse.
-One more thing... OIL YOUR CUTICLES DAILY!! nail oil isnt pricey and it does WONDERS! and if you have SUPER dry cuticles, like cracking and bleeding, or a lot of hangnails, use carmex on them twice a day! ITS AWESOME!
I hope this helped some of you!