First you need to clean up your nails. Make sure no polish is on them already and lather lotion onto your hands to soften your cuticles.
Using either your fingernails on the opposite hand or an orange stick, push back your cuticles and then push them down so that they connect with the nail bed to avoid getting polish in that area.
File the tips of your fingernails so that they are rounded. This will make your nails look much more professionally done. Avoid ragged tips!
Wash your hands to remove the lotion and to avoid bubbles in the polish because of the lotion. Make sure the area you are painting in does not have a draft as this can cause bubbles as well.
Note: completely finish one hand then start on the opposite hand to avoid smudging polish while painting.
Apply a thin base coat. This will ensure that the polish goes on evenly. Make sure your coat is not thick. The quality of the polish is not extremely important but you cannot skip this step!
Note: keep the polish brush handle upright to allow the brush to fan out on the nail. First do a stripe down the middle, then swoop out to each side, then do one more middle stripe.
Wait one minute or until your base coat has dried.
Apply a THIN coat of your polish. Wait a minute after finishing your last nail on the hand and then apply another very thin coat. It is vital that your coats are thin and fairly dry to avoid bubbles.
Wait exactly 2 minutes from when you have finished the last nail on the hand. Use a timer to ensure accuracy.
Apply Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat thinly. Wait at least five minutes before doing anything. The bottle claims that this polish dries in 30 seconds but your polish can still chip!
Repeat on the opposite hand. Wait to fix smudges on sides of nails until after your nails are totally dry. It will be much easier.
And there you are! An (almost) perfect manicure at a fraction of the cost.