The one thing I get asked more than anything else is how to make a manicure last longer. There are so many factors that play into polish wear that there isn't just one be-all-end-all. What works for one person may not work at all for another. But there are some basic tips that I have found that work.
Let's start from the beginning...
The first place to start is with your nails. If you nails are weak, peely, or bendy- polish is going to have a hard time adhering and will peel or crack where there are weak spots in the nail.
There are a few different ways to gain strength to your nails.
Nail strengtheners are a good way to give your nails stability and hardness. If you're wondering what one might be best for you I recommend checking out Loodie's Blog for even more information about ingredients.
My favorite right now is Nailtiques Formula 2. I have been using it as top coat but we will talk more about that later. I have also used Essie Billionails (now discontinued) and Qtica Natural Nail Growth Stimulator in the past with great results.
Dermanail is also a strengthening product I have used. It's different from other nails strengtheners. It's not polish like at all. It is a liquid that is applied to the nail and left on for at least an hour without washing your hands is applied twice a day. This also made my nails much stronger but I had to be careful since it dried my cuticles out horribly.
Another thing to keep in mind is how you shape and trim your nails. If your nails are already weak and compromised it can do more harm than good to trim or shape your nails with clippers. I shape mine with a nail file that is 220/320 file and then seal the edge with a buffer.
And remember above everything else- this stuff takes patience. It takes about 6 months for the fingernail to grow from cuticle to free edge. If you are persistent with treatment it will pay off.
And what about cuticles?
I know, we're trying to increase polish wear- what do cuticles have to do with it? Skin growth on the nail needs to be removed so that polish can fully adhere to the nail itself. Plus, a moisturized nail and cuticle keeps nails healthy and strong which increases wear.
Here are some products I use to remove the skin from the from the nail.
I use these cuticle pushes to gently push them back. I'll get more into cuticle care in another post since that is a huge topic of it's own to cover.
And some products I use to moisturize.
To trim or not to trim?
This is somewhat controversial. Trimming live tissue can open yourself up to infection and also cause the cuticle to grow back thicker. You only need to trim what sticks up after pushing your cuticles back and any hangnails.If you're worried about hurting yourself, you can always gently buff away any leftover skin with a natural nail buffer.
Speaking off buffers- using a shining buffer before applying polish can actually cause polish to not stick. If the surface of the nail is too shiny polish won't want to adhere.
Prepped and ready to go!
Once you've let your cuticle moisturizer soak in it needs to be removed from the nail plate. Washing your hands is certainly a good option but I like to prep a little more. A good way to remove oil and dehydrate the nail is to use acetone and alcohol. I'm lazy so I use CND ScrubFresh which is basically a mix of the two.
Acing your base.
Finding the perfect basecoat can be a bit of a struggle. Everyone's body chemistry is different. What works wonderfully for me may not work for you. But using a basecoat that dries to a sticky finish works well for most people. I love Orly Bonder and CND Sticky. Revlon Colorstay is a popular one these days. I will admit, it works well but it smells like dirty hair!
Ah, the best part! Another big question I get is if different brands are "better" than others. It's a little trickier than that. Body chemistry has a lot to do with how well a polish will play with your nails. For example, Revlon and KleanColor have a hard time drying on me. They want to stay sticky for hours and never dry at all. I have found a way to make them dry but it still doesn't help wear.
I tend to find spa/high end brands do last longer on me. But all polishes come from some where and some low end and high end polishes can come from the same supplier or have the same pigments. Do they add their own base to it which makes it wear differently even if the colors are the same? Possibly, but who knows.
Different finishes of polish can also affect polish wear. Cremes are fifty fifty. They can either not adhere well or adhere very well. Shimmers tend to last very well if they aren't applied too thickly. Linear holographic polishes are known to be chiptastic, especially the older ones. Glitters are a toss up. They either make polish last forever or chip the next day. Find ones you love and work for you.
How polish is applied is also important. Polish needs to be applied in thin, even coats. Polish shouldn't touch the skin. Touching the skin or cuticle will cause the polish to lift. If any touches while you're polishing use a brush and pure acetone to clean it up.
Also don't forget to WRAP YOUR TIPS. This is one of the most important things you can do. Starting with base coat, run the brush along the free edge. Do this with every layer. It helps seal the polish.
Topping it off.
In my opinion, base coat is a tad more important than top coat. Base helps it adhere. Top coat seals it in and adds shine. There are a lot of top coats out there. Quick dry top coat may seem like to way to go. A lot of people are in love with Seche Vite. Seche dries polish so fast and is incredibly shiny- which is awesome! But it is very temperamental and doesn't wear well on a lot of people.
Personally, I have mostly long since written off quick dry top coats. I know, that seems a bit crazy. But if polish wear is a problem it's worth trying out. I mostly use my Nailtiques Formula 2 as a top coat with great results. But I also love OPI DS Top Coat. If I must use a quick dry top coat I do it on top of a non-quick dry top coat.
To help my polish dry quicker I use quick dry spray. It doesn't effect my wear and helps everything dry.
The days to come...
Okay, so you've made it this far! Now to just maintain those pretty fingers. I use either ACI's Manicure Extender (Bought at Sally's) or Barielle's Ultra Speed Dry Manicure Extender. You can always use a top coat as long as it isn't a quick dry one. Quick dry top coat can cause shrinkage, cracking, or peeling on an old manicure.
Adding a new coat of top coat keeps your polished nails shiny and gives them another layer of protection.
Also don't forget to use cuticle oil and cream. Keeping the cuticle and nail moisturized keeps them healthy which helps keep polish on.
To sum it up...
If you've made it this far- congrats! I tried to include as many tips as I can remember and offer. Remember, this is the things I have used and used on others that have worked. Maybe something different works for you. Do what works for you.
But these also might help you! Give them a try.