Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Getting the Perfect Manicure

Oh no, it happened. What was once a flawless, shiny, beautiful manicure is now chipped to the point of no return. It’s time to re-do your nails, but who has the time for three coats plus drying time? That’s why we’ve made you this must-have guide to getting salon-worthy nails quickly and without too much effort.

Setting the Stage

Ghost of Nail Polish’s Past:

RIP chipped mani, it’s been real. But that was the old you. Now it’s time for an update. Before you can get updated though, you must remove the polish that is holding you back. If it’s speed you’re looking for, then go for an acetone based remover. If not, then go for the non-acetone based remover since it’s better for your nails.

And that tricky glitter polish? We got a neat little hack from Danielle Stohl at Glow Salon & Spa in St. Louis for getting it off without too much fuss. Take a cotton pad doused with acetone-based nail polish remover and leave it on the nail for a few seconds. Then rub off whatever you can with the cotton pad. For what’s left over, use a buffer or nail file and gently buffer over the nail. That’s what they do at the salon, according to Stohl.

If you’re out of nail polish remover, there is another solution. Painting any wet nail polish over the remnants of your last manicure will wipe off the leftover polish. Stohl says to use a toothpick to help get any remnants off. No nail polish remover required.

Don’t Soak!

Even if that’s how manicurists do it at salons, it’s 1) unnecessary and 2) not all that great for your nails because it makes it trickier for the new polish to stick, causing premature chipping. No bueno. We say no need to waste time, just skip it all together.

Show Time

Polished—A Love Story:

We are #blessed to live in a world that offers us a ton of variation on what kinds of nail polishes we can choose from. We can go the classic route and use good old-fashioned regular nail polish. Or, we can go the modern route and use gel polish. It’s totally justified if you don’t know the difference; we've broken it down for you.

Regular nail polish: We’re talking a straight up nail lacquer. Along with a base coat and a top coat, this type normally requires two coats to get the full effect—but not always. Like Brianne James, a junior at Ryerson University, says, “I like any nail polish that only needs one coat because the color is so rich. I’m so lazy and any nail polish that requires more than two coats MAX makes me want to cry.” She suggests the H&M beauty polishes. It is important to note, though, that putting on one thick, gloopy coat will take forever to dry. So sometimes going for two thin coats is worth the effort and will be a time saver in the long run.   

But, a nail polish line like Sephora’s Formula X is perfect for when you only want to apply one coat. It’s “super pigmented and long-lasting,” according to Brianna Barker, an employee at Sephora. In terms of color, though, metallic nail polishes consistently only need one coat, as do most glitter polishes.

Gel polish: This could be the lazy girl’s new “it” beauty product. It’s fast, easy to use, and stays on for two weeks without dulling or chipping. Lucy Freitag, a sophomore at Southeast Missouri State, says, “If you have even 20 minutes you can have nails that last a long time.” Sounds good to us. So what brands should you go for? Freitag suggests Sally Hansen Miracle Gel and Jen Morgan, a senior at Messiah College, says, “Wet n’ Wild just came out with 1-step gel polishes that apply like a dream!”

Truthfully, whichever nail polish you choose will be beautiful, but it is worth it to buy quality nail polish. Bridget Higgins, a junior at University of Massachussetts-Amherst, says, “Investing in decent nail polish is SO important. Bad brands will just chip off, looking cheap in a matter of a day or two. I use a good clear coat, Essie nail polish… it works like magic.”

To prevent polish from getting all over the skin around your nail, you can put Vaseline around the nail to keep the skin clean! Just make sure not to get the product on your nail, otherwise the polish won’t stay on. Just wipe the Vaseline off with a Q-tip when your nails are dry!


Make it Quick!

If you opt for the regular nail polish, you have a couple options to make it dry quickly. One option is to use drying drops, like Essie Quick-e. These drops can be used after the top coat to set the whole manicure quickly. Another option is nail polish drying spray. “There's a crazy good nail polish drying spray you can get at Target—the kind that you use and then can make your bed 2 minutes later. The plain old Target/Up&Up brand is really good!” suggests Margeaux Biché, a sophomore at Barnard College. If you’re putting on multiple coats, it's worth it to give the polish a minute to dry before applying the next coat. Your overall drying time will be shorter!  


Smudges could be what makes doing your nails take the longest, if you’re someone who feels compelled to fix it. The good news is that we can help. One of the most effective ways to fix a smudge is to lick it, and then gently smooth it over with your finger. Don’t lick it while it’s wet, but when it’s in that tacky phase between full-on wet and full-on dry. Also, there is an important distinction between licking it and eating it. Don’t eat it; it’s not edible.

If you’re concerned about putting your mouth anywhere near nail polish, another technique is to use nail polish remover. Put a dab of nail polish remover on a Q-tip and go over the smudged nail carefully, just to make it even again. Then go back over the nail with the polish you used before.

In the end, though, the best thing to do is to not fidget. Set aside some time when you don’t have to use your fingers so much, that way you can avoid smudging while they are drying. After all, the quickest way to fix a smudge is to avoid having one.

And they said we couldn’t be lazy and look good? Please. We’re not lazy, we’re efficient.

Micki Wagner is a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she is pursuing a major in Magazine Journalism and a minor in Classics. When she's not writing, she can be found watching beauty videos on YouTube, wandering around bookstores and daydreaming about her celebrity crushes. In addition to writing for Her Campus, Micki also writes more personal pieces on her blog at https://theresidentialblonde.com/. You can follow her on Instagram @mickimouse95.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️