Somehow, even when you buy the good, expensive nail polish, a home manicure is just never as good as when you go to your favorite salon. What makes a manicurist so good? We took that question — and all our other nail woes — to Valerie Star, a makeup artist at Caravan Stylist Studio. Located in the Carlton Hotel in Manhattan, Caravan Stylist Studio is the place celebrities go to get their nails, makeup and hair done when they’re in New York City. We got Star to spill her secrets so we can get the celebrity treatment at home.

Easily fix a broken nail

“Where the nail breaks will determine what your best plan of attack is,” Star says. “If the nail breaks and has left a jagged edge, just file down the nail to an even length. If you have a fresh polish job and don’t want to redo all your nails, throw on an extra top coat over the newly filled nail to give it an extra layer of protection as well as seal off the end.”

If your nail rips very close to the nail bed, Star has a remedy that won’t make you flinch in pain. “Take an unused teabag and cut a bit of the teabag paper to a size just larger than the rip. Apply a thick coat of clear nail polish over the entire nail. While the polish is still wet, lightly place the teabag paper on the ripped area of nail and tap lightly on the teabag paper to smooth out any bubbles. Apply a thick coat of clear polish over the teabag paper and the entire nail and let it dry. Then, apply one more coat of clear polish.” Genius!

Erase mistakes in a snap

It happens to the best of us. You’re proud of yourself for painting your own nails, and then smudge. Don’t panic. “Take your fingertip and dip it into a little bit of nail polish remover. Dab that wet fingertip gently onto the smudged area,” Star advises. “Redip your fingertip into the nail polish remover if the first go around hasn’t done the job completely. Just be careful not to submerge your freshly painted nonsmudged finger into the nail polish remover. Apply a new topcoat and let dry.”

Try nail art with stuff around your house

There are easy ways to get into the #ManicureMonday game. Star says to make little dots or designs using a toothpick or the head of a bobby pin. Or, if you have a foam latex makeup sponge, you can get a little fancier and create ombre nails. “Take the makeup sponge and cut to the size of your nail. Leaving an area flat that will be used to do the stamping of nail polish. Paint stripes of colors on the sponge and quickly dab/stamp onto the nail. Repeat ’til desired density of color is achieved,” Star says.

How to speed up the drying process

Waiting for your nails to dry is so boring. You can’t read, you can’t scroll through Instagram, you can’t text. You can’t do anything. To speed things up, Star swears by Zoya Fast Drops, which gets the job done in five minutes and prevents bubbling.

Make your manicure last longer

Star has a few tips for getting the most out of your manicure. First, she says to always use a base coat and a top coat. She also recommends allowing each coat of polish five to 10 minutes to dry in between coats.

What’s your favorite nail hack? Share it!