Do you complain about any of the following?
My nail polish keeps chipping.
My nail polish peels off.
I can’t get my manicures to last more than a day.
Have I got a post for you!
One of the top concerns that my friends have about DIY manicures is how to make the polish last. Not everyone has the money to drop at a salon to get their nails done (*cough* especially me), but people claim that their polish comes off way faster when they do their nails at home. Stop the madness! This does not have to be the case! Here are some tips and product endorsements that may make your life easier. I’m not getting paid to represent any of the companies or products listed in this post, although hey, I’m open to that happening! 😉 But this is what works for me.
- Start with clean, dry nails.
I can’t emphasize this step enough. Your nails can’t have any oil or residue on them if you want that mani to last. If you’ve ever had acrylics done, the technician starts by filing down your nail. Do you know why? Because filing will take away that top shiny layer that has your skin’s natural oils all over it and will help the acrylic stay put for a longer time. Same thing goes if you look at a lot of those gel polish pre-wipes. Most contain 90% isopropyl alcohol which again serves to dry the nail out and strip away any oil on the surface. Everyone knows that gel polish lasts a long time. So…
What should you do at home? Wipe your nails down with a cotton ball soaked with either pure acetone or 90% isopropyl alcohol. Forget those special blends of polish remover that have moisturizers or are non-acetone. If you want the polish to stay, you want to dry out your nails as much as possible first so that your base coat will adhere to your nail bed better.
- Use a base coat that dries to a rubbery finish.
And yes, I would highly recommend using a base coat! Seeing how porous your nails are going to be with all the natural oils stripped off, you’re going to want a protective layer between your nail and the polish unless you like having stained nails. I’m not saying that every polish will stain your nails, but if you happen to get one that does, you’re going to be seeing the remnants of that color for a long time if you don’t keep painting your nails.As for what has a rubbery finish, I tend to use Bonder by Orly a lot when I want something to last. I’ve also had another nail art enthusiast friend recommend Stickey by CND Colour, although I don’t have first hand experience with it. Both of them have a slightly rubbery, sticky finish, and this is what is going to anchor your polish to your nail bed.
- Paint no more than 3 coats of nail polish color onto your nails.
Thick nail polish is not your friend. Unless you’re using it for stamping, I would either toss the bottle or add some nail polish thinner to it prior to painting your nails. Thick nail polish will trap air bubbles in the formula from when you shake it up to mix it, and those bubbles will surface when you paint your nails and won’t look cute at all.Also, the thicker the coat of polish on your nails, the more likely it will crack and chip off. You want to use as few coats as possible so that the polish will remain somewhat flexible on your nails. If you can even get away with one coat, more power to you. 2 coats is pretty standard. 3 is pushing the limits. 4 is hot mess territory.
- Run a coat of polish along the edge of your nail after you paint it to help prevent chips.
Chips will almost always start at the tip of your nail, so it helps to seal in the layer of polish by wrapping the color around the edge. No need to actually paint it on- just swipe your nail against the side of the brush.
- Seal in your polish with a good top coat.
Don’t try to skip this step! Not only will your polish look nice and glossy, but it will often help to dry your polish faster and keep the color from wearing off too quickly. My personal fave is Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. I use it on practically all of my manicures and pedicures. It helps bond all the layers of base coat, color, and top coat together, smooths out any weird imperfections (like brush strokes and clumps), and sets quickly. I tend to do a lot of my manicures at night right before bed, and I have never woken up with a smudged manicure. This stuff is magical! Just make sure you also coat the edge of your nail the same way you did in step 4.
And that’s it! My pedicures last a month without any chips and no reapplication of top coat with that method. The polish might be able to stay on longer than that, but I don’t know because I usually have to cut my nails at that point. 😉
My manicures could probably last just as long, but I’ve never tested it out because I’m always trying to find an excuse to paint my nails again. But here’s an example of a manicure I did last summer following the steps above.
Floral manicure featuring Suzi’s Hungary Again! by OPI and acrylic paint.
Because I thought this mani looked pretty, I decided to keep it for awhile. After a week, I brushed on another coat of top coat to revive the shine, but I tried out Freedom Polymer Top Coat by Julep (get your first box of polishes free through the link) for the first time that day. Julep says that you can also cure this top coat with a regular light to add additional protection, so I did that, and 13 days later…
13 days of looking beautiful and chip free!
You can see the nail growth by my cuticles to show that I wasn’t faking the number of days that this manicure lasted. There was a little bit of wear at the tips just from everyday living, but everything stayed intact. I would have kept going, but my fans wanted to see a new manicure. 😉
The tried and true top coats and base coats mentioned above.
Let it also be said that if you really want your manicure to last, don’t abuse your hands. Try not to pick at things with your nails or use your nails as tools. You can also wear gloves when you do the dishes if you’re really concerned about keeping your polish looking pretty. For the record, I do none of those things. 😉
I hope this helps solve your manicure and pedicure problems! Let me know what works (or didn’t work) for you in the comments below. Happy polishing!