During Fashion Week this September, I got the most amazing manicure of my life. Between shows I took some time to check out just-launched Caption nail polish, and I’ve literally been waiting to tell you guys about it ever since. The biggest reason I was sold is its special polymer technology that gives shine and staying power like you’d get from a gel mani but without the curing light and ugh-worthy removal process.


Greg Salo, who founded the line along with his bro Habib, give me the lowdown and a manicure as I was getting a blowout in your standard salon chair—a.k.a. not the most conducive spot for polishing and painting. I don’t often get the double-treatment, but the few times I have, I’ll be honest: The manicure usually suffers since it’s speedier than the normal process I get at the salon. Guys, his was so spot-on (and lasted for a full week without chipping or showing its age) that I tracked down the man to get tips and basically marked the polish release date on my calendar.

Do: Take your time. Practice is important for nailing the DIY polish job, as is relaxing and not rushing, but there are a few other approaches to take. “Make sure to work over a stable surface like a table, and try resting the non-dominant elbow or arm on the table to help keep you from shaking,” Greg told me. “Apply thin layers to avoid flooding the cuticle with polish.”

Don’t: Skip the base coat. Prep is an important part the pros never skip. “Make sure to shorten, shape, and clean nails before polishing. Don’t skip the base coat because it will help smooth out ridges and give you a more professional look.”

Do: Get the right tools. When I tried my own at-home mani this time, I was focused on making it work and, as such, knew I’d need a few more supplies than my bottle of polish and a cotton swab. Greg recommends having a fine grit file, a polish remover, cotton, an orange wood stick, and a small brush like the angled ones used for makeup. A hand scrub or lotion isn’t necessary, but a nice touch for getting a luxe salon feel on your own.

Don’t: Leave polish on when soaking nails. Before I buckled down for my at-home pedicure, I soaked my feet in a bowl of warm water and pretty much felt like I was at a salon (and not in my bedroom). Greg suggests buying an actual manicure soak to soften skin and whiten nails but says removing polish before using is essential so the soak can work on your nail plate.

Do: Use a certain side of the brush. “By wiping the brush on the lip of the bottle and then using the non-wiped side, you’ll allow the excess product to be pulled off the brush so you won’t have any dripping.” This was by far the most interesting part of watching Greg do my nails and a trick I employed at home with great success. I’ve always wiped my brush and then painted my nail with that side, but the opposite actually worked much better.

Don’t: Freak out over mistakes. For cleanup right after the mistake, use an orange wood stick dipped in polish remover. If you notice a smudge after polish has dried, use the small angled makeup brush with remover on it to clean up. “Once your nails are completely dry, wash your hands in warm water and apply oil or lotion to the skin. This will help remove any remaining polish that’s not on your nails.”


His tips, plus the impressive formula of the polish, combined for the best at-home manicure and pedicure I’ve ever done. I’m currently on a budget-friendly kick, and I felt so confident after this that I swore off salon visits (that feels like a very big deal to me!). You can check out all the colors and shop here.

Are you good at giving yourself a manicure? Any tips or tricks you’ve learned?