It’s easier said than done, we know, but do your best to paint inside the lines. A stray swipe of polish might not seem be-all, end-all, but you don’t want the lacquer to settle into your cuticles. See, the paint on your skin will come off quicker than the paint on your nails; if your polish is sealed between your skin and nail, when the paint eventually lifts off your cuticles, the polish on your nail will chip along with it.
But mastering an error-free mani is, you know, pretty difficult. Try this failsafe tip for a smudge-free manicure: Before applying your base coat, trace the perimeter of your nails with an oily balm, especially working it into those cuticles. The jelly substance acts as a barrier between your skin and the nail, so if you smudge a little polish into your cuticles while you paint, it’ll wipe off afterward with ease. (See here for the full tutorial.)