The key to a pro-level manicure at home is all in the nail polish brush you use


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Photo: Getty Images/ Patipan Khaoaunla / EyeEm

No matter what I do, my at-home manicures never look as good as when I go to the salon. I’ve tried everything: working slowly to ensure I don’t color outside my nail beds; using special polish handles to make painting easier; and starting in the center of my nail to make my self-done mani easier. But the results have been dicey at best.

Then, one morning I plopped down into a salon chair at New York’s Paintbox for a professional-grade mani, and my nail technician revealed what is actually the most important factor that influences how good your self-done manicures look. It’s all in the brush.

“The size of your nail brush can really affect the outcome of your manicure,” says Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of clean nail salon tenoverten. In fact, the size you should use at home is different than what nail artists prefer using for themselves. “A professional manicurist likes to use a more narrow brush because they can really manipulate the brush carefully into even strokes and into all the angles of the nail, but when doing your nails yourself, it is a whole different ball game,” she says.

Paintbox’s chief educator Evelyn Lim agrees, noting that “wider brushes are great for doing manicures yourself and smaller brushes are better for professionals.” (Paintbox’s new line called of polish called Power Couples, $40 have a wider brush for this purpose, BTW). “They require less strokes of the brush to coat the entire nail, leaving less room for error resulting in a streaky manicure,” says Abramcyk, though she points out that a wide brush also means you have to be extra careful around the edges.

Of course, another secret to, ahem, nailing your self-made manis lies in doing it over and over (and over) again. “Practice does help of course, and the more you do your own nails, the better you become,” says Abramcyk. Just be sure to use a wide polish brush so you can do a better job.

If your mani is easily breaking, here’s the lowdown on brittle nails and how to deal. And these are the best supplements to take for healthy nails.

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