Shhh: 7 Trade Secrets to Extend the Life of Your Manicure

manicure that doesn't make it past a day or two can be so frustrating. You know, when you've done an at-home manicure and painstakingly tried to re-create what the pros do in the salons. You spent so much time being extra careful not to smudge or get the polish on your skin. You had endless amounts of patience when you were waiting for your nails to dry. Then, a day or so later, you've got the dreaded chipping. What was the point of all that time spent?! And yes, this hurts when you've paid for a manicure, too. Goodbye, money!

I may sound slightly dramatic here, but I think you get the idea. Like a lot of things in life, why waste your time and money on something that's not going to last long?

Whether you're DIY'ing it or going to a salon, there are a few tricks to ensuring your manicure lasts a long time (or, at least, longer than a few days). I turned to nail experts to get the tricks of the trade—here's what they said.

How to Make Your Manicure Last Longer

1. Buff Your Nails

Before you start painting your nails, you'll want to do some prepping first. "Gently buff them to create a nice, gritty nail bed for the polish to stick," suggests nail artist Hang Nguyen.

2. Clean Your Nails

This is another part of the prep process. "With so much moisturizing we do lately post-hand sanitization, it is extremely important to clean the nail surface thoroughly to remove any oil or lotion residue off of the nail surface pre-polish application in order to ensure that the polish sticks on," explains editorial nail artist Queenie Nguyen. Alcohol can be used to clean the surface.

3. Follow These Layering Steps

"When you're doing your manicure, always use a base coat, apply your polish in thin layers, and use a topcoat. Thin layers allow the polish to dry more evenly," says Brittney Boyce, a consulting nail artist for Orly.

Hang Nguyen recommends capping the tip (or painting the end/edge of the nail) after every layer to ensure there's no lifting or chipping of the polish.

4. Wait for Nails to Dry

This seems like a no-brainer, but I would guess that a lot of us don't have much patience in this department. But seriously, wait for your nails to completely dry before doing anything. Queenie Nguyen recommends waiting a bit before doing any heavy physical work, too. 

5. Reapply Topcoat

"Reapply the shiny topcoat in between manicure appointments to extend the wear of the manicure," says Queenie Nguyen. "Or if you do your own nails at home, reapply the topcoat every three to four days to seal everything in."

6. Apply Cuticle Oil Daily

You've got to keep those nails moisturized! "Apply cuticle oil daily to keep your nails hydrated," adds Boyce. "I've noticed that when cuticles are well hydrated and healthier, manicures tend to last longer."

7. Take Breaks

Boyce also recommends her clients take breaks in between manicures to let their nails rest so they're in the best shape.

Long-Lasting Nail Polishes to Try

With all of those tips in mind, it also helps to have a nail polish you know is going to last a long time. You could do all of the above and still notice some chipping because your nail polish isn't up to snuff. Take a look at some long-lasting options below.

Nails Inc.

Queenie Nguyen is a fan of Nails Inc.'s polishes. She says that they're both long-lasting and highly pigmented. The brand's Plant Power line is made with plant-based ingredients and comes in recyclable packaging.

Orly

"For people who wash their hands a lot, which should be all of us, the Orly Breathable range is also a great long-lasting option," says Boyce. "It's water permeable, which means it's not likely to crack, which sometimes happens with regular polish."

Smith & Cult

Smith & Cult's polishes are highly pigmented and aren't lacking in the shine department. Reviewers say they're also long-lasting—one Dermstore customer said she went nine days without chipping.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel line is exactly like getting a gel manicure but without the UV light. It has a lot of staying power because it's specially formulated to be chip resistant. Add the Miracle Gel topcoat and you're all set.

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro

I'm a big fan of Deborah Lippmann's polishes because they're high quality, and I don't have to worry about messing up my manicure for at least a week. The Gel Lab Pro line also keeps your nails healthy thanks to nourishing ingredients like evening primrose, biotin, keratin, and green tea extract.

Essie Gel Couture

Queenie Nguyen lists Essie's Gel Couture polish line as one of her go-tos. She says its application brushes spread out nicely and cover every inch of the nail surface. The polishes give you a gel-like finish and protection. Just add the Gel Couture topcoat to lock the color in.

CND

Hang Nyugen says CND is on her list of favorites because the colors are rich and they seem to chip less than other polishes.

OPI

There's a reason why OPI is so popular: Its polishes are so durable. Hang Nguyen recommends the brand for its color payoff, too.

Dior

Dior's polish has "long wear" in its name, and yes, it lives up to that. It leaves your nails with a shiny, strong finish like you got a gel manicure. The applicator brush is designed for precision.

Morgan Taylor

Hang Nguyen also keeps Morgan Taylor's nail polishes on hand. The polishes are saturated with color and leave a smooth, long-lasting finish. They also have a cuticle-friendly brush for easy application.

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