6 simple tips to make your manicure last longer

If you’ve spent the time to give yourself an at-home mani or the money to go get your nails painted professionally (maybe even splurging for a trend-worthy design), the last thing you want is for your precious nails to chip two days in. While some people’s nails are more prone to polish chips than others, especially if they are brittle or break often, there are certain things you can do that will help preserve your mani and help it to last longer. We all want to have long, strong, healthy nails, and the best way to make a manicure last longer is by keeping them that way.

We talked with three top nail pros about their best tips and tricks for making a manicure last longer—even up to 10 days (gasp!)—and they showed us that with a little extra upkeep, your mani can look brand-new all week long.

6 Simple Tips For Making Your Manicure Last Longer

1When at the salon, ask for a waterless manicure.


“Soaking your nails beforehand might soften your cuticles, but it will cause your nail plate to expand,” explains Sarah Gibson, founder and CEO of Olive & June. “When that water evaporates, your nail plate shrinks and it can cause your polish to chip and pop off,” she says.

Instead, get into the habit of pushing your cuticles back in the shower regularly. Then, when it’s mani time, you can use a buffer cube to remove excess cuticle.


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2Use a basecoat.

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To get the most out of your manicure, you’ll want to ensure your nails are properly prepped. To do this, apply a quality basecoat before painting your nails with polish.

This protects your natural nails and allows the polish to have something to “stick” to without staining or damaging the nail itself. Note that this step is extra important when you’re using a blue or green-colored polish since these tend to stain the nail bed more easily.

Apply one coat and wait for it to dry before beginning to paint your nails.

3Don’t lay the paint layers on too thick.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when painting their nails (and the sign of poor professional manicurist, TBH) is when there are too many thick layers of nail polish. “The goal is even, thin layers,” explains Brittney Boyce, an L.A.-based nail artist. You should be able to successfully paint your nails in just 3 strokes: one down the middle, and then one on either side of the nail. Anything more than that, and the paint becomes heavy on the nail, making it more prone to peeling and chipping.

4Apply topcoat every third day

“The key to a long-lasting manicure is to always use a topcoat,” says celebrity manicurist Mazz Hanna. Hanna swears by Seche Vive Gel Effect for keeping manicures fresh up to 10 days. It’s quick-drying and doesn’t require a UV light, but gives the same kind of durability as a gel mani.

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But whatever topcoat you choose, Gibson’s biggest mani-saving trick is to not only apply it as the final step once your nails are painted, but to put on a thin layer of topcoat every third day.

“This will really extend the life of your mani because it acts as a layer of defense against everything your hands are interacting with,” she says. 

Don’t forget to paint the edge of your nail, too, since this will seal in the color and prevent chipping at the top. Gibson calls it “capping” the tip of your nail, and says that it will help keep that typing-on-your-computer wear at bay.

5Apply cuticle oil/cream/serum daily.

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Another manicure trick that’s often looked over—but ultimately very necessary—is the application of cuticle oil.

“Definitely apply cuticle serum every day to hydrate the skin around your nails and cuticles,” says Gibson, “Not only will it make your mani look like you just stepped out of the salon, but it will make sure you don’t pick (or bite!) the area around your nails.”

Keep one at your purse or at your desk for easy daily application.

6Invest in some rubber gloves!

Aside from taking care of the nails themselves, try and show your hands and fingers a little bit of extra TLC while you have a manicure. “Washing dishes is rough on your fresh mani—so wear gloves,” advises Gibson. And remember: Your nails are not scissors, box cutters, or pliers. They make tools for that, so don’t ruin your manicure by using your nails for those kinds of tasks.

Boyce agrees. “Be mindful of how you’re treating your hands and nails,” she says. Don’t use your nails as tools for when doing things like opening items, picking or peeling motions, etc. “The less impact on your nails the longer your manicure is going to last.”

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