To us collegiettes, there are few things more irritating than chipped nail polish. It always seems like right after we paint our nails, the color immediately starts flaking away, and this struggle is only heightened during the summer. From days at the beach to swimming in pools, it seems like the last thing polish wants to do is stay on your nails. With the help of celebrity nail stylist Whitney Gibson, HC is here to take you through the steps to ensure a long-lasting manicure.
1. Clean your nail beds
The first step to giving yourself a great manicure is to make sure your nails are as clean as possible. According to Gibson, it’s important to remove all the oil and residue from your nails because “oil will cause your polish to streak and chip.” The oil and residue can come from things like natural body oils, oils from creams and moisturizers and remnants of old polish. A simple rinse in the sink isn’t going to cut it!
To really clean your nails, Gibson suggests using a nail cleanser like Sephora’s Formula X Nail Cleanser ($10.50). Just lightly swipe the cleanser onto your nails and it will quickly evaporate, leaving the nails clean and dry. Use this after you’ve removed all your previous polish to really clean your nails.
2. Always use a base coat
Applying a base coat is an essential step because it both protects your nails from the nail polish and helps the polish last longer. “Base coats have special formulas that adhere the polish to them and can prolong your manicure by days,” Gibson says.
Sephora’s Formula X line also carries a superb base coat ($10.50).
3. Apply multiple thin coats of polish
After the base coat dries, apply two thin coats of the polish color of your choice. Thin coats mean less drying time between coats, and they’ll help avoid the dreaded nail polish bubbles that appear if you apply another coat before the first one dries.
“You want to do thin coats because they will dry more evenly and have more flexibility, which will help with chipping,” Gibson says. Make sure to apply polish evenly so there’s no clumping.
4. Reapply topcoat every three days
Perhaps the most important step to a long-lasting manicure is the final step, the topcoat. “The topcoat is your nails’ last line of defense and will really protect the nails from the tiny hairline cracks that lead to chips,” Gibson says.
Gibson suggests applying a thin layer of topcoat every three days or so to keep your nails looking like new.
Sephora’s Formula X Shine Top Coat ($10.50) is a great choice of topcoat. If you want to purchase Sephora’s Formula X nail cleanser, base coat and topcoat, it comes in a four-step system (including the nail color of your choice) called Formula X’s The System ($32).
5. Try out a gel manicure
Should you forgo traditional nail polish for gel? “Regular nail polish dries as its solvents evaporate,” Gibson says. “Gel polish will not dry unless it is cured under a UV or LED light.” So what does this mean in terms of pros and cons of gel polish?
When done right, gel manicures won’t chip for two to four weeks. They’re “perfect for people who travel or just don’t have the time or patience to get a manicure every week,” says Gibson.
Your nails will look super shiny and the gel polish can even be used to extend the nails in a similar way that acrylic nails do.
To remove gel nails, you either have to file them off, soak them off with acetone or get them taken off by your manicurist. “Because of the semi-permanent nature of the process, removing the gels can be very damaging to your natural nail and can leave your nails weak and thin,” Gibson says.
Her final recommendation is if you want to use gel polish, then you should go to a professional for both application and removal since the process can potentially be very damaging if done incorrectly.
Days at the beach or the pool are no match for these amazing tips for how to achieve a long-lasting mani! Keep them in mind next time you debate going to the salon – learning how to do a killer manicure can save you time and money, which are both precious things for us collegiettes.