My Foolproof Technique for Making Nail Polish Last Way Longer Than It Should

And no, it's not "get a gel manicure."
Publish date:
July 11, 2016
manicures, Mavala, nail polish, base coat, top coat

Is there anything that makes you looks more put-together and polished (awful pun intended) than a good manicure or pedicure? It's like the ultimate finishing touch on a makeup look or outfit.

The problem with beautifully painted nails, though, is that they can be work. The main issue isn't necessarily in the painting itself — although that can be pretty time-consuming and annoying, depending on the nail polish and your patience level — but in the way nail polish just doesn't seem to last. Like, going to all the effort of painting your nails (or having them painted) only to have them chip and look kinda gross in two days? Not cool.

The best thing about beauty problems, though, is that they're pretty much always solvable, and this isn't the exception. When I actually do my manicure right, it takes a really long time before it starts chipping.

Firstly, the key to a solution is, as always, prevention. Before you even think of applying any nail polish, you need to first remove any and all oil or other residues from your nails with nail polish remover. Don't skip this step, even if your nails are already bare. It really helps to start with a squeaky clean base — but not too squeaky-clean, so don't use the shining side on your nail buffer because it makes your nails slippery little devils that don't grab onto anything. If you skip this step, your nails might be a tiny bit rough, but it's all the better for your nail polish to adhere to. Just make sure there aren't any jagged bits sticking up.

The next thing you have to do is apply a base coat. I know, I know — base coats seem like a waste of time, but many of them really save time in the long run, because your nail polish won't just chip the next day. I've found some success in using a matte top coat as a base coat, for some assumedly scientific reason. But, honestly, any base coat will do.

When you actually paint your nails, the most important thing in the whole wide world is to seal off the edges of your nails by coating them with nail polish as well. This ensures that they aren't so chip-prone. I like to do this on my first coat so that if it causes any unevenness from heavy-handed application, it will be evened out with subsequent coats. If you do nothing else that I've suggested, just do this and you'll see results.

Also, make sure that you paint your nails like a professional and at least try not to get any nail polish on your skin or cuticles, because when this peels off, it will inevitably peel some polish off of your nail, too. I always try to leave a little space between my cuticle and nail polish for this reason (although it does sometimes make growing-out time a little quicker but, let's be real, whose manicure ever really grows out before chipping?). If you fail to do this, just use a toothpick dipped in nail polish remover to separate the nail polish from your skin.

Once your nails are all painted (and dry!), it is imperative that you use a top coat. When you seal it all in, make sure you also drag the top coat over the edges of your nails, too. Now you've sealed it all in and there's no chance of it escaping.

I'm not even going to tell you to use gloves when washing your dishes, because why wouldn't you be doing this anyway if you're concerned about chipped nails? And if you're like me and you wash your hands a million times a day, you can top off your top coat every few days, just to make sure you're not weathering it away.

  • What have you found makes your nail polish really last?
  • Is there any nail polish brand you feel lasts longer than others?