There are few activities more humbling than painting your own nails. Every time I get up the gumption to go full DIY, the result ends up looking smudged and uneven, polish spilling into my cuticles. While my painting did marginally improve over the past year (I’m happy to report I have progressed past toddler and stand proudly at the first-grade benchmark), I pretty much stuck to a bare nail for the majority of 2020—it turns out, my nails needed the breather, anyway. 

But I won’t lie: I miss a freshly polished digit, and I’m still dead-set on excelling my at-home mani skills past the elementary level. What’s an eager nail novice to do?

Two words: sheer polish. Not only are fresh, milky nails deliciously on-trend for summer, but the color is oh-so flattering (it makes your fingers appear longer), and the application is practically foolproof—unlike with opaque, brightly colored lacquers, any errant strokes fly under the radar. 

Plus, if you’ve used the past year to nurse your nails back to health after constant wear from gels or acrylics, the transparent shade allows you to show off your strong, thriving nails while filling in any noticeable ridges or divots—think bare nails, but better.