How to Paint Your Nails Perfectly


I got an email from Amelia of Duckling to Swan when she moved to Jakarta a while back. When I checked out her blog and IG feed I couldn’t get over how perfect her nails were. Currently drooling over her 4th inspired star manicure. Gold and bling chic!  So I asked her and she was nice enough to answer. I’ve been following the video and advice ever since and I can now do my own nails in a neat and tidy way. Hooray. I hope she doesn’t mind that I am posting her tips. You guys should try it out! It was life-changing for me haha!  I’ll explain why later.


TDW: “How do you do your polish so it doesn’t get all over your cuticles and sides?”

AMELIA: “Um, my nails…well, mainly it just takes a lot of practice! But there is a video on YouTube which explains the main steps to follow very well:

The quality of the nail polish you’re using can make a huge difference too. Generally I find that OPI and Chanel are the easiest to apply although some cheaper brands can sometimes be good too. Each color can have a different formula. Generally, light shades or creamy colors are the most difficult to use. Cheaper polishes tend to streak badly and usually aren’t ‘self-leveling’ so it means you have to be much more accurate in application. Hope that gives you some help :)”


TDW: “Wow that tutorial is awesome. Thanks for sharing the link! I should really practice more. But in the past my nails always get yellow, despite having a base. How long do you usually keep a polish? And do you keep your hands color free for some time to prevent yellowing?”

AMELIA: “No I never go without nail polish these days. I’m so addicted to painting my nails and I feel like I’m unfinished if I don’t have polish on! I can’t remember the last time I didnt wear nail polish, it’s been that long! I actually don’t have any problem with yellowing. That usually occurs the worst from cheaper polishes and dark colors. You definitely need a base coat with any dark reds/purples etc even if they’re expensive brands though! If I do get any yellowing I use a buffer tool and it gets it off. Just be careful not to use a buffer too much because it makes your nails thinner and can weaken them!

How long you can keep a nail polish also depends on the brand. I have some Chanel nail polishes that I have had since before I came to Korea (so over 4 years old) and they are still fine to use now, just like new. But, cheap polishes I bought in a local drugstore have dried up or gone very thick and sticky after just a month or two. I find that it helps to store them upside down to stop air getting in. More expensive polishes have better bottles so they don’t usually have the same problem.

Sometimes you can save old polishes by dropping in a bit of polish remover and shaking the bottle up. But it only works once or twice.  Another tip is, if you put your polish in the refrigerator before you use it so that it gets chilled through (maybe 20 minutes, it’s a bit easier to apply :)”


No Professional Manis for this Frau

Ever since I moved to Berlin, I’ve stopped going to the salon for mani/pedis. It’s just to expensive for me. I bought some nail polish to do it on my own, for summer but I couldn’t get it right. I hate it when polish get’s on the cuticles and sides of the nails. Don’t you think it looks untidy? This is what I mean. There are ways to remove polish from the cuticles when you make mistakes, but I recommend avoiding this because 1. it can still be very obvious (see the white nails on the linked image) and 2. it can be very drying to the cuticles when you do this. I believe that the less nail polish remover you use on your hands the better.

I can understand why people are so in love with Essie, Opi and Chanel. They really are ‘self-leveling’ so it’s so much easier to get it right. When I used to get professional manis in Manila and Jakarta, I never thought of it. But if you are doing your own nails, I highly recommend Essie. I love their colours and they are not too expensive. I’ve tried chanel too, but personally Essie is my favourite…probably because I am price-sensitive and buying expensive polish doesn’t guarantee nail-polish staying power, because like Amelia said, it depends on the color formula.

Now by following Amelia’s advice, the video tips, and only sticking to Essie nail polishes, I am able to do professional looking nails minus the hassle of cuticle clean-up. Aren’t Amelia’s nails amazing? She did all these nail-looks herself. And you can get them too by following her how-tos. Click on images for the respective blog posts.


Duckling to Swan

If you want to get more inspiration, not just on nails, but beauty, style and decor, then head over to Amelia’s blog, Duckling to Swan. I adore her girly blog posts and amazing personal style! She also has an amazing Instagram feed. Check it out for daily inspiration!



Last few tips

These are some of my own tricks for nails that look nice and professionally done with as little effort as possible.

  • I never cut my cuticles, I just cut any hangnails if there are any, and push cuticles up a little.
  • Before putting nail polish base, I swipe my nails with nail polish cleaner or 79% isopropyl alcohol to remove any traces of oil and lotion.
  • I always place the thinnest possible coat of polish each time, and give it time to dry in between coats. This keeps my polish for even as long as 2 weeks with minimum chipping.
  • When possible, I only put one coat of nail polish colour. Even stronger staying power!
  • Post nail polish application, I place a drop or two of cuticle oil like essie apricot cuticle oil or dashing diva cuticle nectar on the cuticles and sides of my nails. Be careful not to disturb the nail polish before it is completely dry.
  • For daily maintenance, I apply cuticle oil on nails and fingertips to give myself an instant manicured look.

Get the look

essie marshmallow re-do // 4th inspired star manicure
fall graduated glitter nails
spring nails // pastel glitter and mint
spring pastel water marbled nails
jubilee nails: pink union jack nail art

All images are the from Duckling to Swan Blog © Amelia

Lovely comments

  1. says

    This is when we realized how spoiled we are back home ;p I also plan to do my own nails soon. I am overanalyzing though what to get.

    Which brand of base coat and top coat do you use? A friend recommended Seche Vite for the top coat. I noticed that the salon over here used that on my nails (Somebody treated me to a nice spa pedi!)

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