You Can Get the Perfect Manicure in Less Than 15 Minutes

Without immediately smudging the polish afterward. Here's how.

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Strategy No. 1: The Nail Polish Pen

Mani Marker in Lady Luck, $12, ciatelondon.com.
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The Philosophy: A polish-dispensing marker could be the mess-free savior for anyone who constantly ends up with nail polish on their cuticles or smeared between their fingers.

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The Method: Don't use a base coat for this one. Shake the marker for a minute and press it down onto your nail, starting at the cuticle. A brand-new polish pen will take about a minute to dispense the polish, so be patient. While pressing down on the marker, paint your nails in long strokes. Draw on one coat of polish, allow to dry, and cover with a topcoat—or leave as is if you're in a hurry. A single coat won't be totally opaque, so a topcoat really does take this polish up a notch.

Mani Marker in Vintage Vamp, $12, ciatelondon.com.

How Long It Takes: 10 minutes without a topcoat, 15 minutes with.

Mani Marker in Thrill Seeker, $12, ciatelondon.com.
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The Takeaway: Ciaté's Mani Markers make it easy to get a traditional look with minimal cleanup. They might not replace a trip to the salon, but they can make your nails look good for a night out in less time.

Strategy No. 2: The Spray-On Polish

Paint Can Spray in Covent Garden Place, $12, nailsinc.com.

The Philosophy: Much of the appeal of spray-on nail polish lies in its novelty. It's also just incredibly simple. After all, how hard can it be to simply spray on your color of choice?

Paint Can Spray in Hoxton Market, $12,nailsinc.com.
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The Method: Start with a base coat, and allow to dry. Shake the can of polish for a few seconds, and then place one hand flat on some scrap paper (old newspapers work). Spray your nails until they're covered, holding the can about five inches away from your nails. Hold your hand still for about 20 seconds to let the nail polish fully dry. Once your nails dry, apply a topcoat. Lastly, wash your hands to remove the excess spray polish from your fingers. Expect to scrub a little.

Paint Can Spray in Shoreditch Lane, $12, nailsinc.com.

How Long It Takes: 15 minutes total.

Paint Can Spray in Good as Gold, $12, nailsinc.com.

The Takeaway: It's really, really fun to paint your nails when it feels like you're engaging in some light graffiti. Spray-on polish looks like regular polish when all is said and done, but it cuts out the struggle of painting clean strokes.

Strategy No. 3: The Stick-On Strip

They actually work—really.

The Philosophy: When there are no liquids involved, there is absolutely no room for error—and no drying time involved.

Labyrinth Nail Polish Appliqués, $9, incoco.com.
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The Method: Remove each strip's adhesive and apply one at a time to clean, bare nails. Press it firmly above the cuticle and smooth the strip over the entire nail, pulling it taut. Pull the strip down around the edges of your nail to rip off any extra length. Use a nail buffer to smooth the remaining edges of the strip and shape it to your nail. Stand back in awe at how much your nail now looks like it's had a professional gel manicure.

Color Theory Nail Polish Appliqués, $9,incoco.com.

How Long It Takes: 5 minutes. It sounds fake, but it's true.

Gatsby Nail Polish Appliqués, $9,incoco.com.

The Takeaway: Consider me a nail strip convert. Other brands have failed me in the past, but Incoco's strips (made with real nail polish) are easy to apply and stay for days without peeling. If you want cool nail art without shelling out a ton of cash, this is your solution

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