How to Apply Matte Nail Polish

Are you bored of the glossy look and want to know how to apply matte nail polish?

Glossy manicures are pretty, especially when they catch the light just right. Let’s admit it, they’re shiny and tend to draw attention without even trying.

The thing is, sometimes we need a change. Doing the same thing can get boring. Sometimes we change our hair or switch up our makeup. 

Why not change up your nail routine too? 

Matte nail polish comes and goes out of style, and has had the bad rep of looking flat and faded.

If you love matte nail polish, then you know that isn’t true. Matte is equally as pretty as glossy nail polish. It’s edgy, yet understated, and is perfect for those fall and winter months. 

Applying Matte Nail Polish

Prepping Your Nails

Before starting any manicure, you need to prep your nails. You can’t have a perfect manicure if your nails are a mess. 

And besides, prepping your nails is half the fun, especially if you’re doing it with friends.

Clean Your Nails

Before you can start your matte manicure, you need a clean canvas. Clean your nails of previous nail polish.

Use non-acetone nail polish as this won’t dry your nail and cuticles. Soak 10 small pieces of cotton balls in the remover. 

Place the soaked cotton on your nails and leave for 2 minutes. You can then push the cotton down and off each nail. 

Any remaining nail polish will be easy to remove and there won’t be any staining.

Shape Your Nails

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Once your nails are clean, you can trim, file, shape, and buff your nails. 

Since matte nail polish is prone to chipping, you need to trim your nails. Try to make it a little shorter than your fingertip.

File your nails to the desired shape and buff the top. 


Exfoliate your hands and nails with a body scrub. This removes any dead skin. 

Once done, soak your hands in warm water for 10 minutes. Soaking softens the cuticles, which is important for the next step.

Push Your Cuticles

After drying your hands, push the cuticles back with a cuticle pusher. 

Healthy cuticles shouldn’t be cut as they protect the nail matrix from infection. Once done, use a cuticle trimmer to remove any dry skin. 


how to keep matte nail polish from getting shiny

Exfoliating dries the skin and the need moisture. Use a hand cream to nourish your hands and nails. 

Since cream can be a little oily, you need to remove it from the nails. Use rubbing alcohol (or the nail polish remover) and a cotton ball to clean the nails. 

Any oil from the moisturizer can pretend the nail polish from sticking.

The Perfect Matte Manicure

Picking the Perfect Color

When it comes to matte, not all nail polish colors will work. 

Dark colors like Blue, Burgundy, and Black are great for a matte manicure. But, if you prefer lighter colors, Grey or White looks pretty too.

how to use matte nail polish

Applying the Basecoat

Before you start with your basecoat, consider how to keep nail polish off your skin. Apply a thin layer of vaseline on the skin around your nails works well. 

Once that’s done, you can apply your basecoat. 

Yes, putting on a basecoat does add extra time to your manicure. But having a basecoat on tends to help the manicure last longer. It’s great for smoothing out any ridges in the nail too. 

how does matte nail polish work

Applying the Matte Nail Polish

Knowing how to apply nail polish isn’t all that difficult. Knowing how to apply nail polish without streaks is more challenging. 

The trick is to not rush it or try to ‘fix’ it. The first coat of nail polish should be thin, not perfect. If the first coat has streaks, leave it. 

The second coat of polish needs to be thicker and will likely cover up all the streaks. If there are any streaks once the first coat dries, you can add another. 

If you do add a third coat of polish, it should be very thin.

Applying a Matte Top Coat

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The top coat is essential. And yes, many top coats take forever to dry. If you’re impatient, you can try our Spritz Dry to instantly dry your nails. It can be used after each coat of polish too.

The top coat will bond the other layers of polish, helping the manicure last longer. This is how you get your home manicure to look professional. 

Remember that a matte top coat is essential since you want a matte manicure.

How You Can Apply Matte Nail Polish 

Creating DIY Matte Nail Polish

You’re in the mood for a matte-finish look but don’t have any matte polish. Running the store to get some doesn’t seem like an appealing option either. 

We’ve found five ideas for creating a DIY matte manicure. If you're having a pamper day at home with your friends, then this would be fun to try. 

You can each try a different DIY method, that way you can test them all.

And let’s face it, home manicures are more fun when there’s someone else to do your dominant hand.

Use a Matte Top Cat

If you have a matte top coat, but not matte color, it's not a problem.

All you need to do is complete your manicure as usual. Then, add the matte top coat instead of a glossy one. 

Problem solved.

Use Eyeshadow

Like the first option, this one depends on you having a matte top coat. 

If you have a clear matte top coat, you mix it with some eyeshadow. If you don’t want to mix the entire bottle, pour a little out in a nail polish bowl.

If you don’t have a nail polish bowl, a bottle cap will work too. 

Pour a little polish out and then add a bit of eyeshadow. Be careful that you don’t use too much of either. 

Mix it well and then apply to your nails with a nail polish brush.

Use Powder

For this, you will need cornstarch, baking powder, or finely-milled powder. 

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Grab a small nail polis bowl or bottle cap. Pour a little of the nail polish of your choice into the bowl or cap. Add a little powder to the nail polish, but not use sparingly.

Mix well with a toothpick or something similar. Use a nail polish brush to apply it to your nails.

Use a Buffer

You can use a buffer to get the matte-finish effect too.

Once your top coat is dry, gently buff the nails from side to side. Don’t do it too much; a few swipes are enough. 

If you buff it too much, you could end up removing the entire top coat. 

Use a Facial Steamer

Steaming your nails to get the matte effect only works on still-wet nails. The steam will reduce the glossy result, but only if the polish is still wet. 

While your manicure is still wet, hover your nails over the facial steamer. You’ll notice an almost immediate matte effect. 

If you don’t have a facial steamer then don’t try this method. Using a clothing steamer or steam from boiling water is unsafe. This could potentially burn your skin. 

Final Note

If you want that perfect matte manicure, it’s not a complicated process. You apply matte nail polish the same way you do with a regular manicure. 

Choose a nail polish color that looks good as a matte. And make sure it compliments your skin tone. Dark matte colors tend to look better although a white matte is cute too. 

If you don’t have matte nail polish, you can always make your own. You can use powder, a buffer, or steam to get that matte-finish look. 

Remember to let each coat of polish dry before adding the next layer. 

If you want the perfect pedicure, read our article on how to apply nail polish on toes.

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