1. Make sure your nails are dry. Take a moment to let your hands air dry, or blast them for a few seconds with a hair dryer.

2. Buff. Before you apply any polish to your nails, check out the ridges on your nails. Whatever the state of your nails, you should lightly buff them with a white block buffer or an extra fine emery board.

3. Apply a base coat. If you still feel your nails have too many ridges, you can apply a ridge filler as your base. The base coat should be a matte, dull and quick to dry. It should be a bit tacky as well, so that the polish has a better surface to stick to. Apply a thin coat and allow it to dry just until your nails are tacky. Remember that after every coat of polish, you must let your nails dry thoroughly and not touch anything to avoid scuffing the polish.

4. Pick a color. Now it's time to apply your colored polish. Most manicurists will tell you that there is no difference between expensive and cheap nail polish. You should choose your polish for its color and luminosity only (that is, if you want pretty nails). Of course, different colors look better on different individuals. Deeper reds are considered to be sleek, subtle, and professional, while bright reds are considered to be fun and flashy. Black nail polish is generally considered out of style.

5. Polish. Take the wand out of the bottle and apply a very thin layer of polish. To avoid getting polish on your skin, place the end of the loaded brush on the nail 1/8th of an inch away from the cuticle. Then push it in gently until the brush is just touching the nail before the cuticle. Next, sweep the brush down along the nail to the free edge. Repeat this until the nail is fully colored. If your nickname in high school was "butterfingers" or if this sounds WAY to surgical for you, don't worry: you can always remove polish from your skin with a cotton pad dipped in nail polish remover. If you don't want to put polish remover on your skin (it will dry it out), there is another solution: do your manicure at night and take a hot shower the next morning. The steam will soften up the polish on your skin and you should be able to pick it off.

Don't overwork your brushstrokes. It should only take three or four strokes to fill the nail. Let the polish dry completely, and begin with another coat. You should only need about two to three coats. It is very important to keep the coats thin, as this will make it easier for the polish to settle.

6. Apply a sealant. Once the color has dried (again, let your nails air dry, or blast them with a hair dryer if you are in a hurry), it's time to add your topcoat or sealant. This is a glossy, glass-like clear polish that is shiny and slow drying. Its purpose is to protect your nails from chipping or cracking.

    SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW Give Yourself a Manicure?