I love getting manicures but I hate how fast they chip and peel. I struggled for years with manicures (with regular nail polish, not gel) that would last literally 1-2 days. My pedicures always lasted an acceptable 2 weeks (sometimes even 3-4 weeks!) before I needed a refresh but manicures are much more fragile and prone to damage. All of these tricks are really easy and most of them can be done just before watching a tv show to allow for dry time.
I’ve come up with some neat tricks over the years to extend my natural nails with regular nail polish. I’ve tried gel nail polish but it ruined my nail bed and weakened my natural nail so much that I haven’t risked it again.
1. Wear nail strengthening polish
Weak nails are even more prone to fading and chipping nail polish. I’ve found that even a monthly application of a nail treatment designed to strengthen the nail has helped keep my nails from cracking and splitting at the sides.
2. Bring your own nail polish to the salon
I’ve noticed a huge difference when I bring in my own nail polish versus using one of their nail polishes in store. I’m not saying all the nail salons do this but could it be that nail salons “water down” their polishes? It’s obviously cost-effective so it’s not completely inconceivable. Maybe they’re adding acetone or paint thinner or maybe just water but all those added ingredients just break down the polish. Weak polish in a bottle is weak polish on your nails.
3. Wear a base and top coat
This seems obvious but it’s a step I’ll often forget when I paint my nails at home. The base layer acts like a primer evening out the surface and helping the colored nail polish stick to the nail bed. The top coat seals the color in place and helps protect it from chipping and damage. Again, like the nail polish color, I highly recommend bringing your own into the salon.
4. Don’t layer the polish too thick
I have found that really thick layers tend to peel much easier than thin coats. Also, thick layers can look uneven and goopey; they also take forever to dry.
5. Apply clear polish touch-ups to tips every few days
As you go about your daily routine, the nail polish wears around the tips faster than the rest of the nail bed. I help keep the tips protected by applying clear polish touch-ups every few days.
6. Touch-up any chips with same color polish
Inevitably, your nail polish will start to chip. If the chips are small and only in a few spots, I’ll touch up the bare spots with some of the same color nail polish. By the way, that’s another reason you should bring in your own nail polish to a salon! You can also use this technique to fill in the cuticle gaps that start appearing as your nail grows.
7. Wear gloves when you clean!
This is a good tip in general but especially important if you want your manicure to last. I ruined a manicure the day after by washing the dishes without gloves on. Any strong cleaning products will deteriorate the sheen of your polish–no one wants dull polish!
8. Sparkle the tips
Once the touch-up tip (#6) is no longer possible or the nail polish is looking cakey, use this trick to camouflage an manicure: apply a shimmery polish to the tips (almost like a french manicure) to hide all the imperfections.
9. Sparkle here and there…and everywhere!
When my sparkly tips start looking worn, I’ll randomly paint a nail with sparkly polish. Fortunately, this trend has become fashionable even on newly painted nails so it doesn’t look odd. My last resort to extend my polish is to paint every nail with sparkle nail polish. That will hide all the imperfections and I can usually get another day or two of wear out of my manicure.
In all, with these tricks, I’ve managed to prolong my nail polish wear to about a week and a half and without the harmful UV light exposure that you must sit through for a gel set. Honestly, even gel nail polish starts looking old after 2 weeks because of cuticle growth.