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I always used to wonder how girls got their manicures to look so professionally done–you know the look, a thin clean line around the nail bed and no stray polish blobs on the skin around the finger. I knew I certainly didn’t have a hand so steady that it could apply polish perfectly, so I was relieved when I found out the secret! And even though there are several other tutorials online, here’s my method:

Step 1

Start with your painted nail over a bed of paper towels. I do my clean-up immediately after painting my nails.. I don’t wait for it to dry completely or anything. As I’m painting I focus on making the polish smooth and even. I try not to flood my nail bed with polish. The more it pools in the nail bed, the harder it is to get a nice line around the polish without staining or a noticeable hump. I’m not purposefully sloppy with painting, but if I get polish on the skin around my nails I don’t fret.

Step 2

Pour the cap to a bottle of pure acetone about half-way full. I use this bottle for my clean-up, along with a $6 Revlon eyeliner brush I got at Wal*Mart. You can use whatever sort of brush you want–rectangular like mine, angled, or a fine pointed tip–but the 100% acetone is necessary for a fine clean-up. I’ve tried this with regular nail polish remover, and it just doesn’t work. This huge bottle cost me $0.97 at Wal*Mart. Ninety-seven cents. And, it works a lot quicker with a lot less work since it’s pure acetone. (It should be noted that you should always handle pure acetone around loads of paper towels, or on surfaces you don’t mind being destroyed, because it will eat through everything.)

Step 3

Dip your brush into the acetone. You will figure out how much acetone you need on the brush with practice. I try to dip just the side of the brush in so the acetone reaches all the bristles but isn’t oversaturated.

Step 4

Next, I wipe excess acetone off the brush and back into the cap. This is where I find my method differs from others. Some suggest you tap the brush onto your paper towels, but I find that doing this makes the brush become more dry than I prefer. I like to wipe off excess so the acetone doesn’t flood the nail bed but still has enough to do its job.

Step 5

I begin by rubbing the brush over the blobs of polish on my skin. When the brush begins to feel dry or is stained with polish, I wipe it off on the paper towel.

Step 6

Repeat these two steps as many times as is necessary.

Step 7

Almost there! Just cleaning up the polish on the skin improves it tenfold, huh?

Step 8

The last step is to carefully navigate the brush around the nail bed to finish the clean up. If at first you don’t see much difference between this step and the last step, try looking and comparing the two again. It really is noticeable!

That’s it! Not bad, huh? :)


I clean my brushes using a method that has proven the easiest and most effective for me. Check it out below:
1 Starting with a dirty brush, I squeeze a little bit of MAC’s Cleanse-Off Oil onto the brush, allowing it to soak into the bristles evenly. I then squeeze the bristles, forcing as much of the oil out of the brush as I can and into a tissue. I’ve discovered this is the best way to get product out of the brush. For emollient products like liquid or cream foundation, paint pots, liquidlast liners and fluidlines, it is essential to use the Cleanse-Off Oil to break down the product.
2 When I get the bulk of the oil out of the brush, I then pour a small amount of MAC’s Brush Cleanser onto the brush, wiping it on a tissue back and forth and occasionally squeezing out the liquid. MAC’s brush cleanser not only cleans product (including Cleanse-Off Oil) out of the brush, it sanitizes it and also conditions the bristles, so this is a very important step.
3 I then rinse the brush in some water. You may notice that before running clear, the water will have a slight white-ish or milky tint. This is from the Cleanse-Off Oil, which emulsifies when mixed with water.
4 Last step (I promise!) is to swipe the brush through some 70% isopropyl alcohol. This sanitizes the bristles and is especially important if your brushes are used on other people.

I wash my eyeshadow brushes as needed, typically about once a week. In between uses, I will simply swipe the brush back and forth on a paper towel gently to prevent it from muddying up the different colors I apply.

Any brush that is used to apply a cream or emollient product should be cleansed about once a week to kill bacteria and prevent possible infections.


It’s nail polish. Makeup artists at MAC counters use the colors on the ends of their brushes to differentiate between everyone’s brushes and their own. I painted mine before I was hired to work for MAC because I thought it was cool. It doesn’t really serve a practical purpose unless you mix your brushes a lot with others and want to keep track of them.


Though I am aware that you can use all sorts of things to make videos (webcams, digital cameras, video cameras), I use a built in video camera that came with my computer. I have a Macbook named Ruby, and she has a built-in iSight. I use iMovie to edit all my videos, which is pretty amateur-ish as far as editing goes, but it definitely works well for my purposes.


MAC’s one-of-a-kind recycling program is called Back 2 MAC, often abbreviated B2M. When you purchase a product from MAC, there will be a label on the box that says BACK 2 MAC, which indicates that the container is eligible to be returned to MAC. The way the program works is this: when you have accumulated six ’empties’ (or, empty MAC containers that once contained product) you can turn them back into MAC and receive a free lipstick of your choice. This includes limited edition lipsticks released with new collections but excludes all VIVA GLAM lipsticks (as 100% of the proceeds from VIVA GLAM go to MAC’s AIDS fund). If you live near a MAC freestanding store, you are also lucky enough to be able to trade in your 6 empties for a full-size lipglass or eyeshadow, instead of a lipstick.


This is a two part answer. Number one, you can request samples of pigments at counters and stores. Please remember to request nicely and not too often. The free product is given as an incentive to buy the full product if you are satisfied with it, so don’t treat it as a way to get product for free. Also keep in mind that it is the prerogative of the MA to provide the sample, so be nice. Number two, makeup community members on the internet have come to start selling sample jars of full-sized pigments they buy if they believe they’ll never use all the product themselves. Generally these samples go for as little as $2 apiece, depending on the amount and the availability of the product. (For example, a limited edition or discontinued pigment sample is likely to go for more than a sample of a pigment that is still available at MAC stores.) Of course, you buy from and sell to members of the online community at your own risk and with the knowledge that this is not condoned or regulated by MAC.

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