How To Keep Nail Polish From Chipping, Because Manicures Should Last Longer Than 3 Days

Ah, the struggle of the at-home manicure. We do all the clipping, filing and buffing to prep the perfect canvas. We spend hours (humor me) going through our collections to pick the perfect shade. We take care to paint each nail with careful strokes so it can mimic a professional job as closely as possible. And two days later, we're scrambling for ways to keep nail polish from chipping. All that hard work for nothing. Sigh. OK, OK I'm being a little melodramatic. But I hope the point isn't lost. It's pretty annoying seeing that a manicure is already blemished when it hasn't even had a week's wear yet.

I'm sure we all know to use a base and top coat to help extend the life of a manicure, but sometimes that just doesn't cut it. Gel manicures are always an option, but if you value your health above your polished tips, you might want to skip this route. As it turns out, obtaining the longest wear time from your manicure is more about all the little things than one big game-changer. So if you want a mani to last closer to a week than a day, I've got you covered. Here are some tips (and manicure inspiration) to try the next time you sit down to paint.

1. Wash Your Hands First

Make sure there aren't any oils left on your nails. Clean, dry nails will allow polish to better stick and last longer. Although this isn't the healthiest, you can even swipe over clean nails with a bit of polish remover to ensure natural oils are absent before you paint.

2. Paint Thin Layers

Thicker layers chip and peel off much easier than thin ones. It's alright if your first coat looks streaky, just keep the layers as thin as possible. (Three thin layers is better than two thick layers.)

3. Top Coat Before Drying

Make sure to apply your top coat before your color has dried. If your polish is still wet when the top coat is applied, it will help better bond the polish to the nail. Just be sure there is enough top coat on the brush before painting so there aren't any streaks.

4. Wrap The Tip

Life lessons here, folks. In this case it means making sure to drag your polish horizontally along the top edge of your nails. Sealing the edges will help because the polish won't as easily catch and chip off.

5. Allow Proper Dry Time

In general, metallic polishes dry faster than creams. (They also won't chip as easily.) And the darker the color, the longer it usually takes to dry. Make sure your nails are thoroughly dry before they come in contact with other substances, especially warm water (i.e. don't take a shower until your nails are dry). If the top layer feels dry but not hard (you can dent the polish by pressing your nail against something), try dunking your nails in some ice water.

6. Follow Up

If you really want your manicure to last a long time, you can apply a top coat everyday or every other day. Not only will this prolong the life of your polish but it will also keep your mani looking like you just had it done.

Image: Miki Hayes