How Many Coats of Nail Polish Do You Really Need? An Expert Weighs In

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When painting your nails at home, the more practice and information you have, the better. For one, it’s vital to know how many coats you need to ensure you get a fully opaque color and long-lasting manicure. To find out how many coats you need, we reached out to celebrity manicurist and NVLA nail polish founder Gina Alcedo, who has painted the nails of Amal Clooney, Donatella Versace, and Beyoncé.

Alcedo takes two things into consideration when she’s painting her clients’ nails: how much time they have and the formula of the nail polish. “Typically, I decide [how many coats to apply] based on the thickness of the nail polish,” she said, referring to how viscous or opaque the formula is. “If the client is in a hurry or needs the polish to dry quickly, then I will use one coat. When the nail polish is thick and has a lot of coverage, you can do one or two coats easily. If it is thin, you will need to use three coats.”

She also has a trick for determining when she’s applied enough nail polish. “The best method for deciding when you’ve put on enough coats is to apply until you no longer see streaks or nail discoloration showing through the polish,” she said. “For most polishes, two coats is enough.”

Now that you know how many coats of nail polish to apply during your at-home manicure, we’ve rounded up some nail painting tips, tricks, and tutorials for you from YouTube so you can master the art of painting your nails, ahead.

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