How many are YOU guilty of? From filing the wrong way to over-buffing, celebrity nail pro Deborah Lippmann reveals 10 major manicure mistakes

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  • Lippmann, who did Amy Adams’ gorgeous Golden Globes manicure, shares ten of the nail mistakes she sees women making most often
  • Mistakes include over-buffing nails, skipping cuticle remover and putting too much polish on the brush
  • Shop products to help you get a salon-quality manicure at home

Read more: I Paint My Nails With Favorite Cartoons, Movies And Snacks

Giving yourself a salon-quality manicure at home can be a daunting task.

No matter how steady your hand, it just never looks as shiny or even as it does when you go to a pro – not to mention the fact that it never lasts as long.

Here, celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann shares the mistakes she sees women make when it comes to getting their nails in top shape.

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Nailed it! Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann layered two colors from her namesake line (Dark Side of the Moon and Single Ladies) to create Amy Adams’ Golden Globes nail look

1. Soaking nails in water

Lippmann is known for her water-less manicure, a technique she developed while working on photoshoots and backstage at Fashion Week.

’Soaking your fingers in a bowl of water makes the nail expand,’ she told FEMAIL. ’So by the time you actually polish your nails, your nail is still expanded and when it goes back to its natural state, it’s already prone to chip on the sides. One false move and you’re going to chip your nails.’

2. Filing nails in a back-and-forth motion 

File it away: Urban Beauty United Emery Boards M’emery Files ($3 at Target stores)

’Going back and forth causes the nails to peel and weaken,’ said Lippmann.

Instead, she recommends filing in a single direction on each side of the nail and only shaping at the tip.

’Just the action of going back and forth weakens the sides of the nails because it makes them wobbly.’

Another tip: Resist the urge to over-file.

3. Over-buffing nails

Most people use too much pressure when they buff their nails.

’The habit that most of us have is that as we start buffing we get more and more heavy handed, and by the time we get to the tip, we’re bending it down and that will cause your nail to break later on,’ said Lippmann.

To help break the habit, she advises buffing the nail from the base to the tip, lightening your touch as you go.

4.  Skipping cuticle remover

One of the reasons people get hangnails is that they don’t spend enough time getting rid of the dead skin on the nail plate. But just like you need special products to exfoliate the skin on your face, you need a cuticle remover to exfoliate the skin on your nails.

’Never push back your cuticles without a cuticle remover,’ Lippmann said. Using a cuticle oil, which most people do, won’t cut it. ’That’s like putting a serum on your face, rubbing it in and hoping it will exfoliate. It won’t.’

Tools of the trade, from left: Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover ($20,, Revlon Expert Nail Groomer  ($5.49, and Sally Hansen Beauty Tools Nip ’Em on the Go ($6.79,

Once you’ve applied cuticle remover anywhere that the skin meets the nail, take your pusher and start at the top of the side wall and get in as deep as you can.

When you get closer to the base of the nail, make little circles with the pusher to get rid of any stubborn spots.

’You’ll be able to see tons and tons of dead skin coming off, and that’s a good thing.’

5. Using a cuticle nipper incorrectly

If you’ve done a good job exfoliating and pushing back your cuticles, ideally you won’t have much nipping to do.

But for any hangnails, follow Lippmann’s instructions: ’A cuticle nipper has two blades. You close it, keep it in exactly the same place, and you open it.’

Unfortunately, what happens at many salons and when women use a nipper at home is that they close it and then rip it – not something you ever want to do

6. Not hydrating your nails

’The reason we have all of this skin that we want to bite and pick and pull off is because our cuticles are thirsty,’ Lippmann explained.

So now is the time to massage cuticle oil into your nails.

’You wouldn’t wash your face and not apply moisturizer, right?’ Lippmann said. Well the same is true for your nails.

7. Applying a moisturizer without SPF to your hands

Your hands age just as quickly as your face. Don’t forget to protect them with sunscreen too.

8.  Painting your nails without steadying your elbow

Make sure you have a table or steady surface available to place your elbow on when painting your nails, especially when you’re doing your non-dominate hand.

’I think it’s really tricky to try to do it in the air,’ said Lippmann. ’You don’t want to just be flailing in the air.’

Pick a color: Choose from six of the rosy nude shades in Deborah Lippmann’s Bed of Roses set ($36,

9.  Overloading your brush with polish

Less is more when it comes to polish.

’I pull the brush against the wall of the cap that’s furthest away from me, so I can see exactly how much polish I have to deal with, and then as I approach the nail I turn the brush over,’ Lippmann said.

10. Waiting less than two minutes between coats

The best way to keep your nail polish on is to let each coat dry for at least two minutes before applying the next one.

’The are solvents in nail polish that need to evaporate before you apply the next layer, and if you don’t let that happen, the solvents will be sandwiched in between layers,’ Lippmann said. ’It will never completely dry and you’ll end up with bubbles.’

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