"I love dark polishes, but they tend to leave stains on my nails. What can I do?" ANSWER: Try this DIY remedy: Soak nails for a few minutes in a solution of 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup olive oil, suggests N.Y.C. manicurist Patricia Yankee. "The lemon juice gently lightens nails, and the olive oil moisturizes to help prevent stains." For really stubborn spots, N.Y.C. nail guru Jin Soon Choi recommends dabbing whitening toothpaste like Crest 3D White Vivid Toothpaste ($4; cvs.com) onto nail beds. "The whitening agents work on nails the same way they do on teeth," explains Choi. Rinse off the paste, then buff nails with a tool like the Dashing Diva Shine-On Buffer ($2; dashingdiva.com) or Revlon Shape-n-Buff ($4; drugstore.com) to remove the top layer of stains. In the future, always apply a base coat. "It's like armor-it creates a barrier stains can't penetrate," says Yankee.
"My nails are brittle and peeling. How can I make them healthier?" ANSWER: Start by increasing your intake of biotin, says Great Neck, N.Y. dermatologist Jeannette Graf. The nutrient-found in almonds, dark greens and eggs as well as in supplement form-has been proven to strengthen nails. Then apply a salve like J.R. Watkins Naturals Mango Hand amp Cuticle Salve ($9; jrwatkins.com) or cuticle oil over the entire nail bed every night before bed. We like the Sally Hansen Quick Care Cuticle Treatment ($10; walgreens.com). "This adds hydration and makes it more supple," says L.A. manicurist Jenna Hipp, who works with Jessica Alba and Eva Longoria.
"How can I make my manicure last longer?" ANSWER: It's all in the preparation, says L.A. manicurist Ashlie Johnson. "Make sure your nails are filed smoothly so there are no chips or rough edges. I like to use a glass file to do this, since it's the finest grit." Use cuticle nippers to get rid of any hangnails (Johnson likes the ones by Tweezerman, $25; tweezerman.com), then use an alcohol-based product like the OPI Chip Skip ($12.50; opi.com for salon locations) to remove any oils from the nail plate. Follow with the Orly Bonder Base Coat ($10; orlybeauty.com), then apply two coats of your nail color. "Remember to paint the free edge of the nail to make sure it wont chip, then then finish with a top coat like Seche Vite Top Coat ($10; ulta.com) for a long lasting shine," Johnson adds.