Plasma-based technology promises a tremendous reduction in size of accelerators used for research, medical, and industrial applications, making it possible to develop tabletop machines accessible for a broader scientific community. By overcoming current limits of conventional accelerators and pushing particles to larger and larger energies, the availability of strong and tunable focusing optics is mandatory also because plasma-accelerated beams usually have large angular divergences. In this regard, active-plasma lenses represent a compact and affordable tool to generate radially symmetric magnetic fields several orders of magnitude larger than conventional quadrupoles and solenoids. However, it has been recently proved that the focusing can be highly nonlinear and induce a dramatic emittance growth. Here, we present experimental results showing how these nonlinearities can be minimized and lensing improved. These achievements represent a major breakthrough toward the miniaturization of next-generation focusing devices.