Carla Kay

Courtesy of Carla Kay

Achieving the perfect manicure is no easy feat!

From unsightly smudges to botched cuticles, there's plenty of room for error when it comes to polishing your digits on your own.

To help us with the process, we tapped celebrity manicurist Carla Kay, who has worked on some of the most notable names in the industry including Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, Victoria Beckham, Cher and Megan Fox, just to name a few.

Check out Carla's five tips for nailing the perfect manicure:

Madonna, Harper's BAZAAR

Terry Richardson for Harper’s BAZAAR

1. Don't Cut All of Your Cuticles.  Remember, the cuticle is there to protect your nails from infection. So when you are pushing it in, that is the skin growing out of the nail bed. "Simply trim the little pieces that are hanging that are obvious to the eye. Then you want to take a little alcohol and swipe it on the nail bed so the natural oils from your nail bed are gone and you get a clean base," Kay told us.

2. Try Dry Manicures. "I believe in dry manicures. I find if you put lotion and oil on your hands before the polish, it interferes with a smooth application and it expands your nail bed. And it takes a long time for your nail to dry out!" 

3. Apply Your Base. "I really like Duri Rejuvacote because the main ingredient is keratin it works as a bonder to the polish and it helps with weak nails or cracks," Kay recommended. "This is your first coat which is going to penetrate through your nails to make them stronger. It's going to bond with the color you are putting on."

4. Be Patient. "Go do something! Let the base coat dry because if that canvas is dry you are going to get a sleeker application with your color," she advises. If you don't wait for the nails to dry fully, you run the risk of streaking or wrinkling the polish. "Let that base coat dry, and then put a coat of polish, wait two minutes, let that coat dry, apply your second coat, wait a few minutes and then put your top coat. If you want a perfect manicure you can wait seven minutes."

5. Play with Nail Stickers. "If you're not good at painting your nails, try Incoco polish strips. They are great and are actually made flexible so you can actually stretch it if you are trying to meet the side wall," she says. Plus, Incoco offers plenty of gorgeous colors and designs to suit your mood. "I'm not a fan of blinging out 10 nails, it clashes and is too much," she adds. "I am a fan of one nail—if you want some nail art, put it on your ring finger because it is already designed."

And finally, if you're looking for inspiration for trendy polish colors this season, Kay recommends going dark and sparkly for fall.

"Metallics are coming back. Dark shades with glitter are big. I just did Eva Longoria last week, and we did this beautiful metallic blue/purple mix," she shared.

And there you have it!

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