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How to Make a Manicure Last Longer

BY: Shannon Grilli | 29 Mar 2017

A manicure looks glamorous and professional until it starts to chip. And unless you're the type of person who wears oven mitts everywhere, this probably happens quicker than you'd like. But what if there was some sort of magical guide for how to make a manicure last longer? Below, we gathered together this list of seven tips, which will extend the life of your freshly-polished nails—no mitts or mittens required.

How to Make Your Manicure Last Longer

1. Avoid heat.

If you've just come from the salon, don't wash your hands with hot water for at least 12 hours. Even if you stay under the drying lamps for an extended period of time, your nail polish can take up to a half a day to truly harden, and any heat during that time can result in chips, nicks, and smudges. That also means avoiding hot showers and baths, and keeping your hands away from hot air hand dryers. If you can, dry your hands with cold air or gingerly dry them with a hand towel.

2. Hand sanitizer is a no-no too.

If you can't wash your hands with hot water, than clearly hand sanitizer is a good solution, right? Wrong. While alcohol-based ingredients, like nail polish remover, are great for priming your nails before a manicure (they make the polish adhere better), they're to be avoided afterwards since the alcohol will eat away at the top coat and cause your polish to fade and dissolve. Stick to plain old soap instead, and make sure to read the ingredients label on your favorite hand lotion to make sure it contains no alcohol.

3. Don't skip the edges.

Hopefully, your manicurist will already know how important it is to place topcoat around the edge of your nail, but if they don't, ask. And if you're uncomfortable asking, or you just forget, you can always perform this step once you get home. Placing topcoat on the edge of your nail ensures the entire nail is sealed. And, since the tip of our nails typically take the biggest beating (think typing), the added barrier helps guard the area where chips and cracks are most likely to start.

Bonus Tip: Applying a new clear top coat to the entire nail every two to three days can help prevent chips and will also keep your manicure looking shiny and new.

4. Choose a full bottle of polish.

If your chosen color is contained in a bottle that's more than half empty, it might be a good time to try a new color. Salons will sometimes thin out existing polishes to make them last longer, which means your manicure will fade out faster. To ensure you're getting the good stuff, go for a newer polish that hasn't been used much yet. And if only one hue will do, consider bringing in your own.

5. Go Short.

This may seem obvious, but shorter nails are less likely to break and take huge chunks of polish with them. Ask your manicurist to trim them at or below your fingertips for the best results.

6. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

Healthy, moisturized hair holds color longer, and the same is true of your nails. Plus, dry, brittle nails are far more likely to break. Prevent both these manicure distasters by nourishing your fingertips with nail oil every day.

7. Try a no-chip manicure.

The truth is, no tips on how to make a manicure last longer are going to produce results that compare with the longevity of a shellac or no-chip manicure. Both of these manicures involve a base coat, a few layers of polish, and a top coat, and both feature the same twist—each layer of polish needs to set under a special UV light. This accelerates the drying process, but more importantly, it ensures the polish won't smudge. The result: a manicure that will last about two weeks on average. The drawback in the traditional manicure vs. no-chip manicure debate? You typically must return to the salon to remove shellac polish since it is difficult (though not impossible!) to take it off yourself.