Apply a thin base coat using 3 strokes, one down the middle, then one on each side. Don't paint the cuticle.
Wait a minute before adding 2 coats of your favorite polish, then finish with a thin top coat (try quick-drying Seche Vite, $10. Clean up any errors with an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton and dipped in polish remover.
Let nails dry for at least 40 minutes.
Tip: It's good to paint any polish remaining on the brush over the front nail edge. This prevents chipping.