6 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Manicure

Manicures are so unpredictable. One minute your tips are polished, glossed and ready for a #ManiMonday close up and the next, much to your chagrin, they're chipped and lackluster. So what do you do? Remove, repaint and repeat. We get it—the idea of a long-lasting mani seems far-fetched, which is why we’re breaking down the do’s and don’ts, including the products you need, to break the vicious cycle for good. Keep reading for the mani-cure to all your nail painting woes.

1. Before the Base Coat

Applying a base coat is a must but an equally important step that’s often overlooked comes way before: Removing leftover nail polish (sigh, the least glamorous step). Not only does polish residue alter the true color of a mani but it also causes a fresh paint job to easily peel. Similarly, getting your hands wet or applying lotion are two pre-mani no-nos because any added moisture and oil can create those ghastly bubbles and streaks. Start with a clean slate by cleaning your nails properly with remover (even if you don't have color on your nails) and then applying OPI’s Chip Skip Manicure Prep Coat ($14) before the base coat. Though optional, this step is worth it in the long run!

2. Prime Every Time

Would you ever wear eyeshadow without a primer? What about foundation? If your answer is no, then apply that same philosophy to nail polish. A solid base makes manicures much less susceptible to chipping. For the perfect canvas, we swear by Orly’s Bonder Rubberized Basecoat ($10), a base coat with a sticky consistency that secures polish to the nail. Ridge fillers, a variation of base coats that smooth and fill uneven nail space, also extend the life of your manicure. Our favorite is Essie’s Ridge Filling Base Coat ($9). 

3. Polish Me Pretty

FYI, nail polish does expire. If you have to ask your roommate to help open the bottle for you or if the formula looks thick, it’s time to toss the beloved lacquer. Once you start painting, keep in mind that if you plan to do more than one coat, you should wait at least five minutes between each round to allow drying.

4. Top it Off

You’ve prepped, primed, and painted. Now it’s time to lock in all your hard work. Do it with the top coat that trumps all top coats—Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat ($10). Because of their clear formula, top coats can be deceiving. We might think we've applied it over the entire nail but most of the time we unknowingly fail to cover the most important area—the edges—and hence the chipping culprit. The key to preventing chips and dings is to get enough formula on the brush and stroke it past the perimeter of your nail. 

5. Touch it Up

You’ve carefully applied a top coat and your nails are now budge-free and fabulous. But the process doesn’t end there! Unruly weather, washing your hands, doing the dishes, and showering are your manicure’s worst enemies. To protect from wear and tear, add a layer of top coat every day or every other day. Doing so will keep your digits fresh and turn your mani days into weeks. 

6. Nail Service

As the days pass and the inevitable chips start to creep in, be sure to fix them right away! If it's a small smudge, or if you got your nails done at a salon and don't have the same color in your collection, dab the pad of a fingertip in nail polish remover and gently rub your finger across your nail to even out the color. Once the nail is dry, paint over it with a top coat to bring the shine back. If it's a bigger chip, or the nail polish color is one you have, you can fill in the color with your polish. When it's half dry, do the same trick with nail polish remover, to spread the polish evenly (so it doesn't look like you have a bump of polish where the chip used to be) and then paint over with a layer of top coat. Lastly, be sure to keep your hands and nails moisturized, since dry, cracking nails are a major culprit when it comes to chipping color—we love Julep's Essential Cuticle Oil ($18), which has a rollerball applicator that's so easy to use. It's full of vitamin E and has a lovely lavender scent!

What other mani hacks do you swear by, collegiettes?