Nail Files: The Secret to a Seven-Day Manicure

There are few beauty frustrations greater than having your perfectly polished nails start to chip a day or two later (Right, ladies?). I eagerly jumped on the gel polish bandwagon when they first came onto the market, but after a while I had a mounting concern about the mini-tanning-bed-esque UV lights used in the process. So about a year ago, I decided to swear off my beloved, long lasting gel manicures.

But all was not lost… Lately, I’ve been testing out ways to make my traditional manicure last longer. And it turns out that if the right steps are taken, even regular polish can last almost a whole week. Whether you’re heading to the nail salon or doing a DIY manicure, here are a few tricks to keep your nails perfectly polished all week long…

Chores before manicures.

If you have a sink full of dirty dishes or gardening on your to-do list, check off those chores before heading to the nail salon. Otherwise, you’re just asking for a prematurely chipped mani. And besides, it’s fun to reward yourself for getting all your chores done with a relaxing salon visit! For dishes and other housework throughout the week, wear kitchen or gardening gloves to keep your nails protected.

Polish remover: It’s not just for old polish.

Even if your nails were bare before beginning, always prepare your nails to be polished by wiping them with a cotton ball soaked in acetone-based polish remover. This will ensure that there is no oil, water, or moisturizer left on your nails when you lay on the base coat. Any type of residue left on your nails can prevent the polish from sticking.

Don’t skip steps.

I used to skip the base coat and top coat entirely when I was just doing a quick polish at home. Big mistake. Using a quality base and topper are what makes your manicure stick even more than the polish you choose. I’ve had good luck with Butter London’s Patent Gel-Top & Tails Set, along with the Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Set. Lauren also swears by the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat (which she’s been using for years) for a beautiful, shiny finish.

Choose your color wisely.

This might be an obvious tip, but I always have to remind myself to be smart about the color I choose if I need my manicure to last longer. When I don’t want to have to re-polish my nails for a few days, I go for a glittery polish or a color somewhat close to my skin tone, since those won’t show tiny chips as easily.

Allow proper dry time.

Allowing proper dry time—both in between each coat and post-manicure—is key in preserving your manicure. This is because nicking your polish before it’s fully dry will lead to faster chips later on. And since polish takes up to 12 hours (yep, you read that right) to fully set, avoid any hot water for the half-a-day following your mani.

Top it off.

Reapplying a top coat every couple of days helps to fill in weak spots that may be starting to chip. It will also help preserve that glossy finish.

How long do your manicures typically last?

If you have any other tips for stretching out the time between nail salon visits, I’d love to hear them!

xo Ilana
Team LC

Photo: Ilana Saul