Top 5 Common Nail Mistakes You're Making and How to Avoid Them


Every nail tech and nail DIYer has made mistakes, we’ve been there ourselves. Understanding how to properly perform a manicure and pedicure is important for preventing damage and ensuring that nails stay healthy. 

Take time to continue improving your skills as a nail tech or nail DIYer that way you can achieve the best nails possible. Learn how to properly take care of both your clients’ nails and your own nails by following the tips below. 

Mistakes to Avoid

It’s okay to make the occasional mistake while doing nails, but doing it over and over again can potentially cause damage. Here are five common mistakes that most nail techs and nail DIYers make:

  • Using water
  • Roughing and not buffing the nail
  • Not doing cuticle cleanup 
  • Applying thick layers of product
  • Not hydrating the skin


  • Using Water

This may be shocking, but it’s true. When you soak nails in water, the skin and nails absorb moisture which then causes the nail plate to expand. If you put on product after soaking the nails in water, it will lift as the nail plate begins to lose that moisture. 

Instead of using water for your manicures, do it all dry. The best supplies for dry manicures include an electric nail file, nail bits, hand files, and buffing blocks.


  • Roughing and Not Buffing the Nail

If you want nail product to adhere to the nail plate, it needs a rough surface. By buffing instead of roughing, it will smooth the nail down, making it difficult for product to stay on. If you notice that your nail plate is more shiny than rough, that’s an indicator that you need a more abrasive buffer. 


  • Not Doing Cuticle Cleanup

Dry, crusty cuticles can leave behind oils on your nail plate if left untreated. If you were to apply product, the oils from your skin will cause it to lift. The best way to remove dry cuticles is using an electric nail file and avoiding any water. 

Our favorite bit for cuticle work is the safety sciver. Run it at around 6,000 RPM, and have it parallel to the nail plate that way you can avoid creating rings of fire (learn about rings of fire here). If you’re working from right to left, put your electric nail file in the forward direction, and if you’re working from left to right, put it in the reverse direction. 

Once you’re finished removing the dry, crusty cuticle, spray alcohol and wipe away debris with a nylon brush. 


  • Applying Thick Layers of Product

You may think that applying thick layers of nail product will help it last longer or make the color more vibrant, but it can do more bad than good. Thick layers of product may cause flooding into the nail folds and it may not cure properly in the lamp.

If you do accidentally apply too much product and cause flooding, you may use a small detail brush with alcohol to wipe and remove it. If you don’t remove the extra product, it will eventually cause lifting. To avoid this mistake, apply thin layers of product. Remember that “less is best.” 


  • Not Hydrating the Skin

Similar to a daily face care routine, it’s important to have a post-manicure routine, too! Cuticle oil is a must after a manicure because it hydrates and moisturizes the dry skin. Our favorite brand, lunu-luxe, is made with skin-loving ingredients, smells amazing, and has quick absorption. Applying cuticle oil daily will help your nails stay strong and healthy. 

Interested in learning more about these common nail mistakes? Watch our YouTube video here.


If you’re looking to reach your full potential as a nail tech or nail DIYer, it’s important to understand which mistakes to avoid. By following these tips and practicing, you can enhance your skills and achieve exceptional results. Remember, it’s okay to make the occasional mistakes, but learn from it and work to improve is what matters!

June 19, 2023 — Erica Schlabach