13 Weird and Wonderful Nail Hacks You Need to Know About

Aly Walansky
Woman painting fingernails

Tetra Images

We’ve all been getting manicures for as long as we can remember. The thing is, we’ve been making them a lot more complicated than necessary! There’s some weird and wonderful nail hacks out there, and we’ve compiled them so that next time, you can have the hottest nails around – minimal effort required!

Use ice water to dry your nails
It sounds counterintuitive, we know. But dip your painted nails in ice water after a brief air dry – it really will set the color! If the air is humid, you’ll want to wait extra long to let them dry. And don’t sit by a fan – that draft will just delay the drying process!

Line your nails with Vaseline pre-painting
This will make for way easier cleanup when done. The Vaseline creates a barrier between your nail and your skin, so you can wipe off the Vaseline and take any mistakes with it! If you don’t have Vaseline handy, Elmer’s Glue will work in very much the same way.

MORE: 10 Things No One Ever Tells You About Your Nails

Create your own nail art decals
Paint a thin coat of nail polish on plastic wrap, says Natasha Karam, a nail artist for China Glaze. When completely dried, use a hole punch or decorative punch (such as those designed for scrapbooking) to punch out dots/other designs. Lay on painted nail and seal with top coat – custom nail art decal!

Use plastic wrap as a sponge to create a cool marbled look.

Scrunch a small piece into a ball, dip into polish and dab on nails. You can do one color or multiple with different pieces of plastic wrap, says Karam.

Use an angled eyebrow brush for easy clean up.

The bristles are tight and compact so they won’t flare out as you clean around the cuticles, giving you a nice, clean edge, says Brooke Johnson, Associate Brand Manager for China Glaze.

Half moon mani
Use three-hole punch reinforcement stickers to “stencil” off the half-moon shape at the bottom along the cuticle. Johnson likes to cut them in half so she gets more manicures for her stickers. Paint the bottom half of nails the color you want in the moon (or leave bare for a negative space look), allow to dry completely then apply sticker. Press down to seal the edge then paint the rest of your nails. While polish is still slightly tacky, gently pull off sticker to reveal the half moon underneath. Apply a top coat and you’re done.

Want a dotted mani?
Stick a pin in a pencil eraser and dot away!

MORE: The Best Nail Art for Your Short Nails

There is no clean way to do an ombre manicure.
To make clean up easier, apply Elmer’s glue around your cuticles. Once finished with the ombre, simply peel off, says Karam.

Prevent chipping
Paint two base coats – one on the top half portion of the nail only, and the second coat over the whole nail. This helps protect the polish on the tip of your nail to last longer. While you are base coating, consider using a white polish as your base – it’ll help that color pop!

While we’re at it…
We all make mistakes in nail design. Buy a small nail art brush and use that dipped in nail polish remover to clean up a design gone wrong. Never do thick coats, either. Multiple thin coats is the answer!

Let’s be honest about glitter
Glitter is the acne of the nail world. Once you have it on you, it’s so hard to get it off! If you love the look of glitter but hate removing it, try soaking it off like you would a gel mani, suggests Johnson. Dip cotton in acetone, press firmly on the nail and wrap with foil. Allow to soak for 8-10 minutes, unwrap foil and gently slide off the nail.

There’s love left in that loofah.
You may be ready to remove it from your shower, but before you throw it out, take it apart – that netting can be an amazing stencil for a spider web manicure!

If you are out of Quick Dry…
Spray your nails with cooking oil spray. It’ll help to set that color and prevent smudges!