There’s nothing worse than spending an hour perfecting your manicure only to have it chip in three days. You might think it’s the polish or the fact that you didn’t wait as long for it to dry as you know you should have, but it’s probably because you’re skipping one very important step: Swiping your nails with nail polish remover first.
It might seem pointless if your nails are already polish-free and you might worry since it’s remover and all, it’ll actually prevent the polish from sticking, but it’s actually just the opposite. Going over your nails with nail polish remover before you apply your first coat of polish helps it stick by removing all the natural oils from your nail beds. It can be acetone or non-acetone — it doesn’t really make a difference in this case.
While it’s true that some base coats do the same thing, you probably already have nail polish remover in your bathroom cabinet, so you don’t have to worry about buying another product. Plus, it dries right away. After wiping nails with remover, you can immediately start applying polish.
Your mani will stay awesome for 5-7 days, or longer if you apply a top coat every couple of days. Magic!
Bailey Kircher Elizabeth Denton I’m Liz, the fashion and beauty girl at Seventeen.com.
- How to Make Nail Polish Last Longer through a Vacation
- How to Make Nail Polish Last Longer
- Strong Base Coat
- Fresh Polish
- Fast-Drying Ice Bath
- Topcoat Touch Ups
- Gel Polish: Your Saving Grace
- 6 Secrets to Make Your Manicure Last Longer
- Scrub Tooth and Nail
- Bypass the Bath
- Monitor the Heat
- Establish a Baseline
- Be Picky About Products
- Oil Before You Toil
- 5 Secrets to Make Your Manicure Last Longer
- Avoid Soaking Your Fingertips
- How long do gel manicures last?
- Does gel ruin your nails?
- How long should you wait between gel manicures?
- The Final Word
- Does Gel Or Regular Nail Polish Last Longer? I Tested The Two
- 1. You’re getting gel manicures back-to-back.
- 2. You’re leaving gel polish on too long.
- 3. You’re removing an old gel manicure without professional help.
- 4. You’re not using cuticle oil.
How to Make Nail Polish Last Longer through a Vacation
Going on vacation? Don’t worry about is keeping your mani and pedi fresh throughout your trip. Here are some tips on how to make nail polish last longer!
How to Make Nail Polish Last Longer
It’s a downer to head to the airport with chipped nails, especially if you’re planning to Instagram photos on your trip! If your polish tends to chip less than 24 hours after application, chances are you might be skipping a few essential steps. We have a few tips that will be handy the next time you head to a nail salon or if you choose to do your mani pedi at home.
These chip-free tips will help you figure out how to make nail polish last longer on your entire vacation! Say goodbye to peeling and cracks.
Strong Base Coat
Essie I Nailkale
To adhere your polish to your nail, you can’t skip out on applying a base coat. This first step is essential to begin your manicure and pedicure. A strong base coat will smooth the surface of your nails and is the number one step in succeeding at how to make nail polish last longer.
The base coat should always be applied thinly to prevent chipping–a thicker layer will end up peeling quicker when exposed to water. The base coat also prevent stains on your nails from darker polishes such as black or maroon shades.
Go for a base that’s filled with strengthening ingredients such as vitamin E to keep your nails stronger and less prone to breakage.
Dior I OPI
If you regularly visit the salon for your manicure, chances are your salon manicurists are using older polishes with added thinners that can reduce the longevity of your mani and pedi.
If a bottle is about less than half full, request a fresh bottle. Thinners will often change the consistency of polishes, making them more prone to chips and peeling.
A newer bottle of polish will apply smoother and without clumps for a longer lasting mani and pedi. Or, when in doubt, bring your own nail polish to the salon.
Fast-Drying Ice Bath
Dryer I Nail Lamp
If you’re the queen of ruining your freshly manicured nails, then the ice bath technique is for you! If you’re short on time and need to dry your polish between coats, dipping your nails in an ice cold bath will harden the top layer of polish to allow it to dry quicker.
The best solution is to use the ice bath technique in between applying thin coats of polish. This will prevent dents and smudges and seal in your polish faster. Dip your nails into the cold bath for a few minutes until you feel the polish hardening.
Alternatively, use a spray or lamp to set the polish!
Topcoat Touch Ups
Nails Inc I Seche Vite
After you’ve finished painting your nails, it’s important to keep your topcoat with you throughout your vacation. Most topcoats will wear down within a day or two depending on how often you expose your nails to water.
Topcoats will prevent chipping on the first day but will lose strength gradually. Make sure to seal your polish all around the edges and tips to extend your mani and pedi.
Especially if you’re on a beach or poolside vacation, packing your topcoat is critical.
Show off a gorgeous pedi with one of these cute beach sandals!
Gel Polish: Your Saving Grace
Soak Off I Gel Lab Pro
Last but not least, if all else fails, a gel manicure is a permanent manicure and pedicure option. If you’re planning a long vacation, this is your best bet.
Professional salons will offer a wide range of nail designs and colors that are practically bulletproof for at least two weeks. While a gal manicure can be a pricey alternative, it will last longer and appear glossier than your average polish.
Gel polish takes about 2 minutes to dry under the UV light which helps cure the polish to your nails, making it resistant to chips and peeling.
Learn more about why we love gel manicures to get the perfect vacation nails!
Before you head off on your vacation, these manicure and pedicure tips will keep your nail polish looking as fresh as the day you painted it!
Do you have any additional tips on how to make nail polish last longer? Share in the comments!
For more travel beauty tips, please read:
- Vacation Nails that Won’t Chip or Peel: Gel Manicures
- 5 Nail Tools for the Perfect Manicure On The Go
- I’m Obsessed with these 9 Travel-Size Sephora Must Haves
- 8 Natural Beauty Products You’ll Want to Take on Your Next Adventure
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6 Secrets to Make Your Manicure Last Longer
A new manicure is just the thing to help you relax for a few minutes and feel like a million bucks-until a day later when you notice that your fresh coat of paint is starting to chip. You know it’s not going to last forever, but you don’t have to feel like your mani starts to disappear faster than PSY can thrust his hips. What you do before, during, and after your manicure can boost your polish’s staying power-and save money. Follow these easy steps and you’ll look like you just left the salon no matter when you actually last visited.
Scrub Tooth and Nail
A toothbrush is the ultimate secret weapon when it comes to beauty, doing everything from exfoliating lips to grooming unruly eyebrows to smoothing down baby hairs when you pull your mane back into a high ponytail. Now add making fingernails pearly white to its who-knew-you-could-do-that list. “Remove dirt and grime by brushing nails clean with an old dry toothbrush and whitening toothpaste for a refreshing feeling that whitens and brightens,” says Jenna Hipp, celebrity manicurist and OpenSky.com insider. After rinsing and thoroughly drying your hands afterward, feel free to moisturize, but be sure to swipe your nails with vodka to remove any oils that will prevent your polish from sticking. While you’re at it, switch from cuticle oil to a water-based balm to keep your cuticles moisturized and your polish in place.
Bypass the Bath
Calling all conspiracy theorists: The relaxing hand soak that most nail salons include as part of your manicure may actually be shortening the life of your polish, causing you to come in more often. “As your nails absorb the water, their natural shape expands,” says Faina Ritz, founder and chemist of Duri Cosmetics. “Then the nails are polished, and when that water evaporates, the nail contracts, causing the polish to chip and crack.” As soothing as the soak may feel, skip it.
Monitor the Heat
Ultraviolet lamps used at salons help your nails dry faster-and cause them to chip faster too. “Polish takes up to twelve hours to fully dry and harden, and any sort of heat during that time will interfere with the curing process,” says Shannon Dalbo, beauty trend forecaster for GBS The Beauty Store. Use your salon’s air dryer, which uses cool air, to ensure that you don’t leave with wet nails. Then, for the next 12 hours, avoid washing with warm or hot water (use cool instead), using saunas or hot showers, and even blowing your nails with your breath since it’s warm, Dalbo recommends.
Establish a Baseline
A good topcoat is key to seal your polish, but the first layer on your nails is just as important as the last. “From a chemical point of view, a base coat adheres to nails better than a nail lacquer, provides a seal that the nail polish can attach itself to, and is fortified with ingredients that smooth nail surfaces, allowing polish to glide on evenly so it lasts longer,” Ritz says. Add in the bonus of preventing stained nails-always a threat when you use dark colors such as red-and ingredients such as protein and vitamin E to strengthen nails and prevent breakage, splitting, and peeling, and base coat is a no-brainer.
Be Picky About Products
Hand sanitizer has become a mainstay in most purses, especially during cold and flu season, but while it kills germs, it also kills your mani. “The alcohol in hand sanitizers eats away at topcoat and causes your color to fade and dull,” Dalbo says. Exfoliators in body and facial scrubs are also a no-no, as they remove both the top layer of your skin and your polish. Wash your hands with a mild antibacterial soap to avoid colds and germs and preserve your mani, and reach for alcohol-free lotion. “If it has a fragrance, it contains alcohol, which leads to drying and chaffing,” says Jennifer Lopez’s manicurist, Elle.
Oil Before You Toil
Wearing rubber gloves while you do the dishes or clean the bathroom will definitely help your polish stick around longer. For even more lasting power, apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly over the entire nail bed of each finger before you don the gloves, says Athena Solomon, manicurist and founder of A Beautiful Day Salon in Southfield, MI. “The oil-based product will act as a protective coat to prevent polish chipping and may help prevent chafing near the cuticle.” This is an ideal practice anytime your hands are in water, she says.
- By Jené Luciani
By wiping the brush on the lip of the bottle and then using the non-wiped side, you’ll allow the excess product to be pulled off the brush, so you won’t have any dripping. —Greg Salo, founder of Caption nail polish
Keep your coats of polish really, really thin so they dry more quickly and won’t bubble or peel as easily. —Petra Guglielmetti, Lipstick.com
Use two coats of your color polish. The first coat should be thin and semisheer. It lays the foundation for your color; perfect application and smooth, even coverage is the key to a long-lasting manicure. The second coat delivers the true color and coverage.—*Roxanne Valinoti, CND education manager *
Wait two full minutes between each coat, starting with your base coat. Tedious, yes, but giving coats time to air out helps prevent polish from mushing and chipping later. —Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie
Choose your formula wisely. Glittery polishes have more grip, but they take longer to remove when you’re ready to take them off. Matte formulas have ingredients in them that aren’t as long-lasting. —Christa Lee, Lipstick.com
Finish each finger with a horizontal swipe of color, along the top edge of the nail, to seal and protect against nicks. —Petra Guglielmetti, Lipstick.com
Horizontally run an extra layer of top coat on your thumbs and index fingernails, which tend to chip first. —Jin Soon Choi, founder of Jin Soon Hand & Foot Spa
To lock in color and shine, paint your nails as you normally would, then finish with a gel topcoat. You’ll get long-lasting gloss minus the time-consuming removal process of a salon gel manicure. —Jin Soon Choi, founder of Jin Soon Hand & Foot Spa
Maintain the polish.
If you’re short on time, run your hands under ice-cold water. This does not dry nails faster, but it helps to harden the polish, which in turn helps to prevent nicks during the drying process. —Carla Kay, celebrity manicurist
Apply another thin coat of topcoat every other day to re-gloss your mani and guard against chips. —Petra Guglielmetti, Lipstick.com
If you do get chips in a solid-color manicure, try painting the tips in glitter—a festive twist that’ll cover the imperfections quickly and easily. Or do a full glitter topcoat to distract from any flaws. Check out Lindsey’s glitter polish adventures on this subject.—Petra Guglielmetti, Lipstick.com
Wear gloves while washing dishes because water expands the nail bed and can cause your nail polish paint to peel off. —Kim D’Amato, founder of PRITI NYC
Keep a bottle of cuticle oil drops in your purse and apply it frequently to freshen up your mani. When your cuticles are moisturized, your nails look better. —Jin Soon Choi, founder of Jin Soon Hand & Foot Spa
Be careful of directly applying certain skin care products to your nails, especially sunscreen which can discolor and break down a manicure. —Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist
While we’re on the topic of nail polish, watch this cute video of Lauren Conrad who chats about all things beauty:
5 Secrets to Make Your Manicure Last Longer
If you’ve ever wondered how to make your manicure last longer, then you’re not alone. While it still looks amazing, a manicure can make you feel great about yourself. However, many people have trouble maintaining the beauty gained from a proper manicure. For some people, it’s almost depressing to watch the paint chip off of nails. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to make a manicure last much longer.
Avoid Soaking Your Fingertips
There is no scientific reason to soak your fingertips. When you go to a salon, the purpose of soaking your fingertips is nothing more than a part of the pampering experience. In fact, soaking your fingertips can have a very negative effect on your manicure.
When a fingernail is submerged in water, it begins to soak up the water, and it becomes temporarily puffy. The nails will return to their normal shape after the water has evaporated. Tests show that the contraction and expansion of fingernails causes polish to peel and chip.
Don’t Push Dry Cuticles Back
Another way to make a manicure last longer is to avoid pushing back dry nail cuticles. This is important because this activity can cause the polish at the base of the nail to crack. Once the polish has cracked, it will begin to chip, which ruins the manicure. It’s also a good idea to run some softening cream into the nails. The cuticles should be gently nudged back with something like an orangewood stick.
Clean the Surface Well
One of the best ways to prolong the lifespan of a beautiful manicure is to make sure the surface is extremely clean. If there are traces of spent enamel, dust or moisture, it will actually prevent the adhesion process of new polish.
Before getting a manicure, it’s important to properly shape your nails. Shaping is what maximizes the strength of the nails. It’s best to leave the corners square while rounding the tips. Filing is almost always healthier than clipping.
The problem with clipping is that it can crack the nail plate. It’s a good idea to use a nail file that has a fine grit, and nails should always be filed in one direction. When nails are field back and forth, it can cause nail keratin layers to peel away.
Use a Base Coat
The purpose of the base coat is to give the lacquer something that it can stick to. Research suggests that a base coat actually sticks to nails better than regular polish. When the intention is to use it for uneven nail surfaces, it’s best to use a base coat that addresses roughness. Another great tip to improve the lifespan of a manicure is to seal the lacquer with a slow-setting topcoat.
Although the quick dry types of topcoats seem best, they evaporate too quickly making polish mushy and soft. These are some very simple tips that anyone can use for a long lasting manicure.
Ask your group chat how long a gel manicure should last and I guarantee you’ll get 10 different answers (also, wow, brag—you have 10 friends? OKAY). Even though I’ve been getting gel manicures regularly for the last two years—since regular nail polish tends to chip in, like, five minutes for me—I’ve never gotten the final word on how long gel polish should last. Is two weeks the standard? Is three weeks a sign of next-level gel? Is four weeks even humanly possible? Does the world end at five weeks?!
Since these are the actual questions that keep me up at night, I decided to settle things once and for all by chatting with a nail expert to find out everything you’ve ever wondered about gel manis, starting with how long they ~really~ last.
How long do gel manicures last?
I’ll give it to you straight: The longest you can wear a gel manicure without compromising your nail health is two weeks, says Evelyn Lim, chief educator of New York–based nail salon Paintbox. Even though your manicure might look perfectly fine after two weeks, you run the risk of damaging your nails if you keep ’em on any longer.
“When you have gel on your nails, the polish continues to cure in direct sunlight or in any exposure to UV—which is all around us,” says Lim, adding, “the longer you keep your polish on, the longer it cures, which makes it much harder to remove.” The safest bet is to head to your manicurist after two weeks, where they can gently remove your polish without damaging or stripping your nails.
How can I make my gel nails last longer?
1. Use cuticle oil religiously
Okay, so even though you shouldn’t be wearing your gel manicure for longer than two weeks, there’s still a handful of things you can do to keep your nails looking nice and pretty for the entirety of those two weeks. Step one? Invest in a cuticle oil right this very second. “In addition to hydrating the cuticle itself, a good oil will strengthen and condition your nails, which can prevent them from chipping, breaking, or becoming brittle,” says Lim, who suggests using your cuticle oil “at least once or twice daily.”
Dr. Huschka Neem Nail and Cuticle Oil dermstore.com $39.00 CND Essentials Nail & Cuticle Oil SolarOil amazon.com $8.50 Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Remover sephora.com $20.00 L’Occitane Shea Nail And Cuticle Oil sephora.com $19.00
2. File regularly and wear a top coat
“You want to treat your nails like you would a pair of tights—if you get a minor nick and you don’t nip it in the bud, it can turn into a huge run,” says Lim. “So if you have a little snag on your nail, smooth it out with a file or buffer to prevent any further chipping, splitting, or tearing.”
Lim suggests keeping a mini nail file in your bag to make quick touch-ups totally doable. And while we’re on the subject, throw a clear top coat into your bag too. While it won’t really do anything to make your manicure last longer, a quick layer of shine will give your gels a nice refresh if you need it.
Iridesi Professional Colorful Mini Finger Nail Files amazon.com $5.99 IBI Disposable Green Mini Buffer amazon.com $9.95 Essie Top Coat No Chips Ahead essie.com $9.00 Tweezerman Mini Nail Rescue Kit sephora.com $23.00
3. Keep your nails dry
Even though you don’t need to worry about your gel polish chipping as much as you do with a classic mani, Lim suggests wearing rubber gloves while you’re washing the dishes or cleaning your apartment. “When your nails get wet, they expand, and when they dry back up, they contract,” says Lim. “When you have that back-and-forth change, it can cause chips in your nails.” Bottom line: Keep your hands and nails as dry as possible.
That’s why some salons like Paintbox believe in dry manicures (read: no water or soaking), since working with nails in their natural state can help your polish stay on much longer. If your salon falls into this category, make sure to show up to your appointment with completely dry nails—that means no wet nails for at least 30 minutes prior to your mani.
Does gel ruin your nails?
Nope. As long as you go to a skilled manicurist, gel polish isn’t going to mess with your nail health. “If your nails are naturally thin and brittle, putting gels on isn’t going to change that,” says Lim, “but if you’re doing everything the right way—from application to removal—you can’t really do true damage to your nails.”
Shocking, right? “I think the misconception about gel ruining your nails comes from the fact that a lot of people don’t know how to properly remove it,” adds Lim. So even though it might feel #oddlysatisfying to peel off your gels at week two, you’re actually doing a lot of damage. “Your nails grow about one millimeter a week if they’re healthy, so if you peel off your polish, it will take about three months for all that damage to completely grow out,” she says. TL;DR: Always, always, always have a professional remove your gels if you want your nails to stay healthy.
How long should you wait between gel manicures?
While the beauty world is kindaaaa split on this answer, the time you take between gel manicures is entirely up to you. “I’ve had gel on my nails for four years straight,” says Lim. “If you’re applying and removing it properly, there’s no harm in getting gel manicures back-to-back.”
That said, if your nails are brittle, weak, or just need a little breather, substitute your gel mani for regular polish rather than foregoing polish altogether. “If you have something on your nail, it restricts moisture, creating somewhat of a barrier so your nails can harden,” says Lim. “So it always helps to have something on the nail.”
The Final Word
Yes, gel manicures can last more than two weeks, but if you, IDK, care about your nails, you should definitely have your polish removed professionally after 14 days. And in the meantime, make sure you’re stocked up on cuticle oil, files, and a top coat to keep your nails in tip-top shape throughout the life of your manicure.
Ruby Buddemeyer Beauty Editor Ruby is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers beauty across print and digital.
Does Gel Or Regular Nail Polish Last Longer? I Tested The Two
Until my senior year of college, I never painted my nails because the regular nail polish never lasted longer than a week. When I heard that gel nail polish may last longer than regular nail polish, I had to test the theory. When I did eventually began ensuring my nails were painted perfectly at all times, I noticed my nail beds were chipping, and ultimately, looked unhealthy. So I stopped painting my nails and took calcium to strengthen my nail beds again — and it worked. Besides very special events, I haven’t painted my nails since then.
But there are times when I will look at another woman’s nails and be totally jealous. I’ll not only envy her nail art or how great they look holding a Starbucks cup in her latest ‘gram, but I’ll be jealous of how they pull together an outfit or highlight a great ring.
Alas, I’ve basically given up on appearing as a responsible adult via nail polish because my job requires much out of my nails. Constant typing chips away the polish from the tip, up. I also do CrossFit four or five days a week as research for my job, which also chips away the polish in unpredictable patterns. And finally, I just can’t have nice things. But the results I yielded in this experiment may allow me to be a responsible adult after all.
Regular Nail Polish
I woke up early to paint my nails before work because I was so freakin’ excited. To be honest, I forgot how much having polished nails affecting my mood. For some reason, I was more confident in myself and my work. Want me to send out 20 seemingly tedious emails, boss? Sure thing. I’ll even read over each and every one three times. Want me to edit your photos for you? Wait until you see my photoshop skills in 20 minutes or less.
I loved the color, which I hadn’t seen for almost a year, since I wore it at college graduation a year ago. I loved the start to this week. It pained me to think I was going to have to slowly watch this confidence-booster literally chip away.
I told you I can’t have nice things. After a day filled with baking cookies with my family that involved whisking, mixing, lifting, pouring heavy pans, and reaching in bountiful cabinets to pull out ingredients, I chipped a small amount off my left pointer finger. No one noticed, but the imperfection was so obvious to me. I could not look at anything else.
As you can tell, things got out of control between Day 2 and Day 3. Aside from working a full 8-hour day with minimal breaks between typing on my laptop or writing with a pen, I attended an hour-long CrossFit class. Though, in CrossFit, your fingertips don’t make contact with weights or a barbell, you do have the grip both rather tightly, which then yields tarnishing of the nail polish. I also did a mess of dishes this evening, which chipped away the tips.
I am left-handed, so it is interesting to notice that is the hand with the most tips, especially the index finger. Apparently I didn’t learn enough about pointing from my mother.
By Day 4, the chipping was starting to affect me emotionally. We started a company-wide meeting today, and I couldn’t imagine meeting various members from my company for the first time with these imperfect nails.
It was expected that I would receive a promotion at the end of our 3-day company meeting. In my head, I kept questioning, “If I can’t be expected to maintain socially-acceptable looking nails, can I be trusted to oversee the launch of a new magazine?” It was difficult to pay attention during our meetings too. I found myself looking more at my nails, and looking if other people were judging my nails, more often than I was glancing at the elaborate Power Point my boss had assembled. Then I took out my frustration with my nail polish at an evening CrossFit class, which, as you can imagine, only made the situation worse.
I admit it: I was beginning to measure my ability to adult based on how my nails looked. But look at them: Not. Good.
That’s right. For the sake of beauty journalism, I lasted one more day. And I regret it. Between the evening CrossFit class and unexpected car trouble, this happened. I took my car to get repaired and I had some troubles getting my car keys off the same ring as my myriad of other keys, which resulted in my nail polish peeling away.
As soon as our meetings ended, I went home and got out the nail polish remover and cotton balls.
Gel Nail Polish
It felt like I was born with this polish on my fingertips. They looked and felt natural. And as you can see by the bandage wrapped my hand, they survived an intense CrossFit class. I opened a blister on my hand, but my nails remained in-tact and professional.
Also, I can’t stop looking at them because they’re so shiny. Much shinier than regular nail polish. As I was getting them painted, I asked the nail salon owner how to best care and take off the polish (not that I had any intention of removing the color from my now #blessed fingers.) She mentioned the soaking in acetone theory, but stated the safest way to remove the polish was to go to a nail salon and have them remove the gel for you.
As for the rest of my day, I possibly had more confidence, if that’s even possible, than when I applied the regular polish.
A Week and Two Days Later
I did not document each day, as I did with regular nail polish, because this was the first chip of the gel nail polish. Aside from my nails growing out – which they obviously grow at an alarming rate – there were not any chips or breaks in the polish to report. I thought I lucked out and this nail polish was going to look fabulously fierce forever.
After that first nail polish came off, it was all downhill from there. This was not recommended by the nail artist, but I picked off the rest of the polish. I couldn’t stand seeing my one bare finger. And I began to notice the rest of my nail’s gel polish was catching on inanimate items. All of the gel nail polish was off by the end of the day.
Don’t do as I do, however. Instead, my nail artist recommended coming into a nail salon so their artists can safely remove the gel polish, without harming the remainder of your nail beds. Or to soak your nails for a significant amount of time in acetone.
Though the gel nail polish looked better for the longest amount of time, both nail polishes lasted the same amount of days, which shocked me. It was comforting to know, however, that my daily ritual of working out and typing all day on a computer did not slowly digress the gel nail polish on my fingertips. If I had an event coming up and needed my nails to be perfect for a number of days, I would definitely recommend the gel nail polish.
Most importantly, however, I forgot what it was like to treat myself. Painting my nails is not something I typically do, because I deem it as a waste of time and money when the polish comes off so quickly. But I was so amazed at how having painted nails gave me a sudden burst of confidence, which affected my work. And I know it was not because I spent money on my nails or did a thing for the name of beauty journalism, but I actually invested in myself.
I will invest in gel nail polish again because it at least appears like it lasts longer and it felt so good, both physically and mentally, to have it on my nails. Bi-weekly alone dates to the nail salon? Sounds like a good New Years resolution to me.
Images: Hayli Goode
The day we figure out how to make manicures last as long as pedicures will be cause for celebration, but until that day comes, we’ll take every tip and trick in the book to make our nail polish last longer. Our hands go through a lot during the day (makeup application, typing on keyboards, washing dishes, and so on), and poor manicures don’t stand a chance.
Luckily, there are little known tricks to making your nail polish last longer — besides just applying top coat every two days. Here, we share with you 10 tricks for making your manicure stand the test of time, or at least for a week.
1. Shorter nails: When your nails are long, the tips are more exposed and you tend to use them for all they’re worth (peeling off stickers, putting keys on key rings, etc.), putting them in harm’s way. Short nails are shorter than the tip of your finger, meaning that your finger, not the polish, will take the brunt of any activity that could create chips.
2. Invest in the best top coat: Everyone’s got their favorites, but we swear by Formula X for Sephora Top Coat, which consistently keeps our polish chip-free for at least a week. If you only do one thing to make your manicure last, it’s got to be using a good top coat.
MORE: Tips to Removing a No Chip Manicure
3. Use gloves: Washing dishes (or cleaning your apartment) without gloves on can completely destroy your manicure. The water and soap can dry out the manicure, making it less shiny and likely to chip. Get yourself a sturdy pair of rubber gloves to protect your nails from danger.
4. Allow for enough dry time: Smudges and dings during dry time ruin all the hard work you just put in to your at home manicure. A good way to tell if your nails are dry is to make your pinky nails face each other, then gently touch them together. If you pull them apart and they feel slightly tacky, your nails still need time to try. If they don’t stick to each other at all, you’re good to get moving.
5. Seal the edge: If you’re applying a top coat without sealing the edge of your nail, that’s exactly where you’re going wrong. The edge of the nail takes the brunt of the polish beating, so make sure you’re protecting it with a good cover of clear polish.
6. Keep your nails healthy: Ridges? Peeling? Breakage? Fix your nail problems and you’ll keep your manicure lasting longer for sure. Find a good ridge filler or nail strengthener depending on what you need to fix, then work them into your beauty routine to keep your nails in tip top shape all the time.
MORE: The 10 Best Navy Blue Nail Polishes
7. Go for thinner strokes: We know it can be tempting to pack on the polish, but too-thick nail polish can tend to peel off, making the life of your manicure incredibly shorter. Go for thinner strokes, getting just enough polish on the brush that you don’t overload your nails.
8. File in one direction: It doesn’t matter which direction, but make sure you’re filing each nail either to the left or to the right, never back and forth. Alternating directions weakens the nail, making it more prone to breakage and peeling.
9. Stay away from hand sanitizer: The alcohol in hand sanitizer can dry out your nails and polish, making them dull and ready to chip. Instead, go for a mild hand soap and warm water when possible.
10. Stop soaking your nails: Soaking your nails in water at the nail salon (or at home) causes the nail to absorb water, expanding their natural shape. Once your nails are polished, the water evaporates and your nails contract, which causes the polish to chip and crack.
Image via Jamie Grill/Getty Images
1. Use a cotton swab to wipe down your nails with white vinegar before applying basecoat.
This removes any product buildup or natural oils on your nail beds that could create a barrier between the polish. Once your nails dry, apply basecoat.
2. Don’t soak nails before painting them.
Manicurists do this to soften cuticles, but it causes nails to retain water and expand. Once they’re painted they’ll shrink, meaning your polish will no longer fit your nails. So ask your manicurist to use cuticle oil instead.
3. File your nails into a shape that mirrors your cuticle’s, which makes them less likely to break.
4. Avoid getting any polish on your cuticles, which lifts the paint from the nail and leads to chipping.
Don’t cut your cuticles, but you can push them back using cuticle oil and an orange stick or a pusher tool to prevent paint from getting on them.
5. Use a sticky basecoat to make the polish last longer.
Try CND Stickey Base Coat, $9.
6. Apply two coats of basecoat to the tips of your nails.
Nail tips are more prone to chipping (see: typing, texting, etc.). Apply another layer of basecoat to the top half of your nails for extra polish resilience.
7. Instead of shaking your polish up and down, roll it between your hands to eradicate and prevent air bubbles.
If you paint air bubbles onto your nails, they’ll chip faster.
8. Don’t skip the “free edge” of your nails.
Run the basecoat, paint, and topcoat around the edge to ensure your entire nail is sealed.
9. Dry nails with cool air.
Hot air keep the polish from drying so use your blow dryer on its cool setting or a fan. Dipping fingertips in ice water for a minute or two also aids drying.
10. Reapply a layer of clear topcoat every two to three days to prevent chipping and enhance shine.
Try Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, $10, or Essie Second Shine Around Polish Refresher, $9.
11. Wash your hands with mild soap instead of using hand sanitizer, which dries out your nails and ruins topcoat.
12. Apply nail oil daily to prevent your nails from drying out and splitting.
The less moisture your nails and cuticles have, the more likely they are to break and tear.
13. If your nail polish has started chipping, file your tips down and seal them with another layer of topcoat.
14. Hide a gel manicure that has grown out by covering the base of your nails with glitter, creating an ombrè effect.
The best way to distract from a chipped or overgrown manicure is, well, glitter. It’s pretty and will last for what feels like *~FoReVeR~*.
15. If the tips of your nails have chipped, add super-thin French tip.
Now you’re chipping no more and have a cool updated look.
16. Wear gloves when doing the dishes to protect your manicure.
The fastest way to ruin a manicure is to submerge your nails in hot water and harsh cleaning chemicals. So if you needed an excuse not to do the dishes, there you go.
17. If you chip or smudge a nail, smooth the polish ridge with a cotton swap dipped in polish remover.
Otherwise if you just paint over it without smoothing it out, you’ll get a bumpy nail.
Featured jewelry: Vita Fede, CC Skye, House of Harlow 1960
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Brooke Shunatona Brooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for Cosmopolitan.com.
Chipping a perfectly good manicure is one of life’s most annoying frustrations. Since I’m constantly opening packages and typing stories, wearing gel nail polish has been a saving grace when it comes to preserving my mani. While I love the flexibility a regular manicure provides, gel polish is so much more durable—which is why I tend to stretch each manicure for as long as possible.
“With gel polish, your manicure can last from two to three weeks, but with regular polish you’re lucky if it lasts five to seven days without chipping,” Kristin Pulaski, owner of Paintbucket Nails in Brooklyn, tells SELF. According to Pulaski, in addition to staying power, another great benefit of gel is that it provides a harder layer of protection over the natural nail, which can result in increased nail growth.
Unfortunately, this durability and protection can be rough on your nails and make them weaker and prone to splitting. No one wants that, so there are a few things to keep in mind to maintain the health of your nails when you’re getting gels. We asked Pulaski, celebrity manicurist Skyy Hadley, and Christy Harpring, co-owner of Sea Salt and Sugar Nail Bar in Savannah, Georgia, to clue us in on gel polish mistakes to avoid.
1. You’re getting gel manicures back-to-back.
Since removing and applying gel nail polish can cause a lot of wear and tear on your nails, you should space out your manicures. “By getting gel nails every two weeks consistently, the nail plate gets extremely suffocated,” explains Hadley. This can lead to nail dehydration and eventually breakage, so make sure to give your nails downtime between gels. “It’s important to have a professional nail technician assess your nail health between applications to determine if your nails could use a sabbatical from polishes,” explains Harpring.
2. You’re leaving gel polish on too long.
Since gel nail polish can be worn for weeks on end without even the tiniest chip, stretching the life of your manicure is tempting. However, Hadley suggests removing a gel manicure after two to three weeks maximum to avoid damaging nail beds and cuticles. Harpring agrees, adding that overextending gel manicures can not only lead to weakened nails, but also introduce potentially harmful bacteria. “It is important to remember that once the gel begins to lift, it does allow for moisture to get under the gel and possibly lead to bacterial growth,” explains Harpring.
3. You’re removing an old gel manicure without professional help.
Once a gel manicure is on its last leg, you may be tempted to remove it yourself, but experts advise against it. “The safest way to remove gel polish is by a professional,” says Harpring.
If you absolutely can’t make it to the salon for removal, she advises you first gently file the top of the polish to remove the shine, which allows the acetone to penetrate and dissolve the gel easier. Next, soak cotton balls in acetone (a chemical commonly used in gel nail polish removal), apply a cotton ball to each nail, and wrap it in tin foil. Leave the wraps on for 10 to 15 minutes, and then, using a wooden cuticle pusher, gently push the gel off of the nail plates. To finish, lightly buff the surface of the nail with a buffing tool, and apply oil to your nails and cuticles to rehydrate.
4. You’re not using cuticle oil.
According to Hadley, you can assess nail damage based on their flexibility: Normal nails are somewhat flexible, but the harder and sturdier the nail, the more likely it is to break. Since cold weather tends to make skin drier overall, proper cuticle hydration can make a big difference. Additionally, acetone can be extremely drying to the nail bed, causing nails to break or become brittle over time.
To combat nail dryness, experts suggest keeping cuticle oil close at hand (no pun intended). “I swear by cuticle oil and personally love NCLA’s,” Pulaski tells SELF. “I used to think that cuticle oil wasn’t essential, but I started using it about two years ago and I always carry it with me now, especially in the colder months!” Adding a few drops of oil to your nails and cuticles in between salon visits will keep them hydrated.
Keeping my nails looking good, with or without polish, is definitely a priority. So while I probably won’t give up on gel nail polish altogether, I’ll definitely think twice before trying to stretch my manicure for longer than two weeks at a time.
If you’ve ever had a fresh manicure chip, you’ve probably wondered how to make nail polish last longer. There are steps you can take to help both DIY and professional nail jobs last for weeks. Check out these 15 tips for how to make nail polish last longer.
Rock your manicure longer with these tips for making nail polish last Image via Imaxtree
Use Strengthener Between Polishes
Healthy nails hold polish longer. A strengthening product can help repair nail damage to keep them from peeling or breaking. Try O.P.I. Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, $18.
Even if your nails are already bare, go over them with a swipe of nail polish remover such as Ulta Regular Instant Nail Polish Remover, $3.99, before applying polish. This quick step removes natural oils from the nails. If your nails are weak or brittle, opt for a nourishing non-acetone remover that strengthens nails. We like NCLA Take It Off soy-based nail lacquer remover sheets, $19.
Skip the Soak
A water bath before a manicure will cause your nails to expand. When they dry and shrink, your polish will crack. Ask the salon to skip that step.
Use the Right Base
Not all base coats are created equal. Use a tacky one such as CND Stickey Base Coat, $8.50, to help the polish hold.
Roll the Bottle
Shaking a bottle of polish infuses the color with air bubbles, which lead to chips. Mix the polish by holding it upright and rolling it in your hands instead.
Avoid the Cuticles
Keep the polish from touching your cuticles because color applied there is more likely to peel away than polish applied directly to the nail.
Polish the Edges
Pull the brush around the edges of your nails to coat them. This adds a protective layer to your tips.
Use Thin Coats
Thicker coats of polish don’t dry with as much strength as thin ones. Apply your nail polish in thin strokes and add additional coats as needed for smooth, full coverage.
Wait Between Coats
If your polish isn’t completely dry before you add the next layer, it may peel off. Wait at least two minutes between each coat.
Take Two With the Lamp
If you are having your nails done at the salon, stick your hand back under the UV light for extra strength. If you’re going to try this trick for how to make nail polish last longer, lather up your hands with sunscreen before your appointment.
Housework can do a number on your nails, so wear gloves while doing tough or wet jobs like washing dishes.
Dried-out polish is more likely to peel off of your nails. Use nail oil like L’Occitane Shea Butter Nail & Cuticle Nourishing Oil, $20, at least once a day. Also use hand cream at least twice a day.
Use Hand Soap
Choose soap and water over hand sanitizer for washing hands because sanitizer is drying.
Even when you try several tips for how to make nail polish last longer, small chips can inevitably appear. Gently filing down the tips of your fingernails can solve the problem.
If you get a chip in a spot where it can’t be buffed away, cover it up with some nail art like a stick-on rhinestone or an ombre design.