First things first:
BASE COAT: this made the biggest difference. This alone made a drastic improvement It helps the polish stay in place, it provides an even primed surface for the polish to go on and stick too.
NAIL POLISH: The base coat will help your polish stay, but another thing to consider is getting a decent polish. the 99 cent polishes really don't cut it. If you can, get a nice name brand polish, it makes a big difference. Don't have to spend a lot of money, but don't get the cheapest stuff you can find.
ALSO: make sure your nail polish isn't old or expired. Polish typically has a shelf life of 2 years or less. So it's important to keep up with it. Over time the bottle dries out, and colors separate making it undesirable to use when trying to achieve beautiful nails.
Make sure you have all your tools out and ready to discourage you from bumping or smearing before they dry. Also try to do your nails when you have a few minutes to sit down and spend time on them, as well as giving them time to dry.
WHAT YOU NEED:
-emery board/ nail file
-buffing pad (optional)
-cuticle pusher/cuticle trimmer (optional)
-nail polish remover (to remove old polish and clean up after)
-cotton balls (optional, for removing old polish)
-Small paint or makeup brush (for clean up)
Step one: Set up your station, with your supplies in reach. Remove all leftover polish and wash your hands. Focus especially on your nails and cuticles to remove and particles, dirt and excess oils.
Step two: Push down and trim your cuticles if needed, then clip your nails to a desirable even length, file if necessary, and buff away any rough edges, and smooth down the surfaces. Wash and dry hands again if you want.
Step three: Apply your base coat. One layer should be okay, just make sure its even. Follow base coat and color applications shown in the picture below.
So the first link is to show you how to properly and evenly apply the polishes. Base and color. I usually do one coat on all fingers before I go back and start the second and third coat. Three coats are usually good.
The next link is how to clean up you nails after you get the polish done. Get yourself a very small paint or makeup brush, and dip it in remover and wipe around edges and any mistakes.
Here is the link to her blog where she has a wonder manicure tutorial herself
Other tricks people have mentioned is putting a jelly or ointment around the edges of the nails so any polish won't dry on the skin and it is very easy to clean up after. I have also heard about putting tape around the edges also. Hope it helps.
I hope you enjoy these tips and tricks, and if you have any more please let me know.
Have a wonderful weekend,