The trick? Simple: “Move your finger around and let it do the work for you,” says Le. Meaning, instead of maneuvering the paintbrush with unsteady fingers (which oftentimes leads to stray strokes), hold the brush at a straight-on angle and move your actual finger into place when you paint the sides of your nail. That way, you’re putting less work (and faith) into your non-dominant hand and keeping the technique as easy as possible.
The same logic applies to filing with your non-dominant hand: Says Le, hold the emery board or glass file at a head-on angle, moving your actual finger wherever you want to carve the shape. Just remember: Don’t “saw” at the nail with back and forth motions, as this can cause the keratin layers to split and fray; choose one direction to file and repeat with light, even strokes until you reach your desired nail shape. (Here’s our full guide to shaping your nails, if you’re curious.)
You might even want to do all the work with your non-dominant hand first, so you can really grip the paintbrush without worrying about smudging your artistry. As someone whose polish projects often turn out toddler-like, I find it helpful to complete the entire mani with my weaker hand (base coat, polish, and top coat) before passing the polish to my more dexterous fingers.
Just make sure to let the coats dry for a beat between each layer and especially before you switch hands—sure, you’ll have to add extra wait-time if you paint each hand separately, but for me, the pristine results are worth the extra few minutes.