A great manicure is truly a timeless beauty trend that will never go out of style. Whether you’re visiting your local salon or taking a more DIY approach, it’s the perfect way to pamper yourself and spend some quality ‘Me’ time!
But no matter how enjoyable the process may be, we all want our manicures to last as long as possible, so that we can get the most bang for our buck, and effort. There are a lot of things that can ruin a manicure and destroy your nails, but don’t worry, because we’ve found twelve ingenious hacks to help give your pretty mani some serious longevity.
Prep your nails with polish remover
Before you begin applying polish, it is important to get your nails prepped for their pampering. “If there is residue on your nails, it will prevent polish from adhering,” explains Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie Cosmetics. The solution? Make sure your nails are clean and completely dry by wiping them down with a lint-free cotton pad and an acetone-based cleanser.
Alternatively, you can “remove dirt and grime by brushing nails clean with an old dry toothbrush and whitening toothpaste for a refreshing feeling that whitens and brightens,” reveals celebrity manicurist Jenna Hipp in an interview with Shape.
Buff, buff, buff your nails
Lightly buffing your nails to smooth out any bumps and/or dents, no matter how small or invisible they may be, is another key to a long-lasting mani. As Huffington Post beauty writer Jennifer Choy points out, “If you run your fingers over your nails, you’ll notice little ridges on the surface of your nails. Some of us have more prominent ridges than others and it’s these culprits that cause polish to crack. The trick to a longer-lasting application is buffing your nails until you have a smooth surface to work with.”
One thing to remember is that, for best results, you should always “buff in one direction rather than haphazardly all over.” Why? Because “just as the hairs on a violin’s bow rip and get fuzzy over time as you move it back and forth, the same thing happens with your nails,” explains nail artist Simcha Whitehill, AKA Miss Pop. “That motion causes tiny tears and splits in the nail that can turn into full-blown cracks and slits over time.”
Keep cuticles in check
As you’re buffing and cleaning your nails, don’t forget to show a little TLC to your cuticles. “Push them back using cuticle oil and an orange stick or a pusher tool to prevent paint from getting on them,” suggests Cosmopolitan Associate Beauty Editor Brooke Shunatona.
But however strong the temptation may be, do not cut them! And once you start applying your polish, keep your cuticles in mind and “avoid getting any polish on [them], which lifts the paint from the nail and leads to chipping,” she adds. “This is an important step for ensuring your manicure lasts as long as possible,” agrees Jennifer Choy. “Make sure to push back and remove cuticles before you start the painting process.”
Never, ever shake the polish bottle
As you prepare to start applying the lacquer, you’ll likely be tempted to shake your bottle of color. Don’t! As Beth Shapouri of Lipstick.com revealed to Glamour, you should never, ever shake a bottle of nail polish, no matter how accustomed you might be to doing just that. Why? Because “it creates air bubbles”, which can then cause the polish to bubble on your nails and crack. Put this bad habit behind you and “try rolling it between your palms to get the formula to mix instead.”
Pay attention to your coats
The way you apply your basecoat, polish and top coat can also play a big role in determining the lifespan of your manicure. Speaking with Jan Arnold, cofounder of Creative Nail Design, Good Housekeeping discovered the importance of all three layers. While a base coat helps the polish adhere better to the nail, a slow-setting topcoat creates a hard, protective layer, Jan explained.
As for the color, the key to perfectly applying it like a pro is to always “apply your polish in three narrow, even strokes, one down the middle and one down each side. Then wait two minutes before applying a second coat. And don’t goop it on: The thicker the layer of polish, the likelier it is to peel.”
Bring your own polish to the salon
Sure, this might sound like a bit of a conspiracy theory, but as Jane Park, creator of Julep Nail Parlors divulged in an interview with Redbook, “Nail salons notoriously add thinners to extend the life of old enamel, which can change the color and cause bubbling and peeling.” Yikes! Not to mention the higher frequency of trips to the salon. Play it safe and bring your own bottle of polish with you to ensure you get the best quality result possible.
Add an extra dose of UV light
If you’ve opted for a professional gel manicure, Randy Schueller, cofounder of The Beauty Brains, suggests keeping your nails under the UV light for a few extra minutes. Speaking with Allure, Schueller admitted that although this trick doesn’t guarantee a longer lasting mani, “it is theoretically possible that if you spend a little more time under the light, you will get more bang for your buck in terms of durability.”
Just keep in mind that “there are some studies that suggest too much UV light from manicures can lead to skin cancers, but other studies have dismissed that,” she added. “If you’re going to double to triple your exposure, it’s a trade-off.”
Say no to quick-dry products
Despite how tempting the idea of a quick-dry polish may be, nail artist Whitehill recommends staying away from them because they tend to dry out nails. “If you want the healthiest nails, you shouldn’t use any product with acetone in it besides nail-polish remover, because it causes nails to chip, peel, flake, and break,” she says.
If you really want to speed things up, reaching for a cuticle oil is a much better option. “If you knock something when you’ve got cuticle oil on your nails, the oil acts as a barrier, and the offending object will just slip off the nail instead of denting the polish,” she explains. “And once the cuticle oil sinks into your skin, you’ll know your nails are dry.”
Double check everything you put on your hands
A lot of products we all use regularly on our hands might actually be taking a serious toll on your manicure. For example, “the alcohol in hand sanitizers eats away at topcoat and causes your color to fade and dull,” revealed Shannon Dalbo, beauty trend forecaster for GBS The Beauty Store, in an interview with Shape.
What’s more, things like exfoliators and scrubs can also quickly eat away at your polish, as can certain lotions. “If it has a fragrance, it contains alcohol, which leads to drying and chaffing,” Jennifer Lopez’s manicurist, Elle Gerstein, also told the magazine.
Don’t soak your hands in water
Once your pretty mani is done, make sure not to soak your hands in water for extended periods of time. Faina Ritz, founder and chemist of Duri Cosmetics, explains that when you soak your hands in water, “your nails absorb the water and their natural shape expands.” Then, “when that water evaporates, the nail contracts, causing the polish to chip and crack.” So, if you’re looking to do dishes, throw on some plastic gloves, and trade in those long baths for shorter showers (sorry!).
Make glitter your best friend
Finally, if it’s been several days and you notice your manicure is growing out or starting to chip, you can actually use glitter as a quick refresher. “Hide a gel manicure that has grown out by covering the base of your nails with glitter, creating an ombrè effect,” shares Cosmopolitan Associate Beauty Editor Brooke Shunatona. “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~*.”
Huffington Post’s Jennifer Choy agrees: “Using glitter polish will in and of itself last longer than regular polish [because] it tends to have a better grip on your nails.”
The keys to a long-lasting manicure
A beautiful mani that lasts a whole week (or even longer!) doesn’t have to be the stuff of dreams, if you’re willing to put in a little extra time and effort. Always make sure to prep your nails properly (hello, buffing!) and use the correct products and techniques to color them (thin coats of polish are key).
Once your red carpet-worthy mani is complete, remember to pay close attention to your daily habits (no washing dishes without gloves!) and you’ll be able to show off a perfect manicure for days to come.