Nothing turns pretty hands ugly quicker than chipped nail polish.
You’ve tried all the tricks your mom taught you: Dry between coats, wear gloves when washing dishes, and seal the edge of your nails with polish. But no matter how hard you try, that beautiful color you couldn’t wait to put on, becomes the tacky polish you can’t wait to remove.
You want the longevity of gel nails or acrylics, but without the brittle aftereffects. Is it even possible to make a manicure last by just using good ol’ regular polish? Yes!
Whether you do it yourself or go to a nail salon, you really can make a manicure last longer. The polish may not stick around as long as gel or acrylics, but certainly more than the couple of days you’re used to getting.
Consider these tips to make your manicure last:
Clean and dry. Nail polish won’t adhere to dirty nails, so the cleaner the nail bed the better and the longer your polish will last. After a good cleaning, remove residual oil with vinegar or rubbing alcohol.
Base coat. Choose a sticky or shiny base coat instead of matte to anchor your nail color. These act like glue and improve wearability.
Heavy metal. It’s hard to remove shimmery, glittery polish because the metal pigments protect the color, making it last longer. Darker colors last longer because the pigments are stronger than brighter or pale colors.
Top it. Use a topcoat after applying polish, and then every day afterward. The topcoat seals your polish to prevent chipping. Be sure to brush across the edges to counter chipping before it starts.
Bring it. Going to a salon? Bring your own polish, as salons often add a thinner to nail color to get more applications from each bottle. Thinners cause bubbling, peeling and color changes.
Let’s chill. Cool nail polish sets better. Sounds weird, but store your polish in the fridge and paint your nails on a cool surface. Heat isn’t a friend to nail polish as it causes it to become soft and thick. Use a blow-dryer set on cool for 60 seconds between coats for a firm set and faster drying.
Dodge water. Take that long, hot bath or shower before you do your nails. Heat and moisture cause new polish to shrink within the first day of application so avoid hot water on the first day of your manicure.
Madge the manicurist from those old Palmolive commercials convinced a nation that soaking nails in liquid before a manicure is a must. Well, forget about it. It’s a bad idea because nail beds expand under water and shrink when dry, causing fresh polish to loosen. The soak is for the cuticles, not the nails, so try a cuticle softener instead.
Heat heave-ho. Not just hot water, but avoid ultraviolet lamps and hot air — don’t even blow on your nails — like the plague. It takes about 12 hours for polish to actually cure and heat hinders this process.
Get oily. Oil those cuticles and nails daily. The best time is at night so nails have plenty of time to moisturize. Nail oils contain nutrients needed for healthy nails, but castor oil or even olive oil work just fine.
Cover up. Wear gloves while doing household chores — especially when working in water — to protect nail color. Apply a little petroleum jelly on your nails before putting on the gloves for added protection. Also, wearing gloves during cold weather not only keeps your hands warm, it protects your manicure.
Avoid alcohol. Remember how you used alcohol to remove oil from your nails before the manicure? You don’t want to do that once the polish is applied. It destroys your manicure. Products containing alcohol, such as hand sanitizer, dissolve the top coat and make nail color fade.