A perfectly polished manicure can elevate your look, lift your spirits, and wake up tired, over-agitated digits. Sadly, salon manicures can be costly, time-consuming, and require a lot of expensive upkeep, especially if you opt for a more durable gel manicure. If you treat yourself to regular biweekly, or even monthly manicures, you could be looking at upwards of an extra $1,000 per year.
If financing your beauty habit isn’t within your budget, you may opt for a DIY at-home manicure instead. Yes, it’s still time-consuming, but at least now you can bank those hours as self-care. While at-home manicures are more affordable, they must also be handled with care. Most daily activities can put your polish’s staying power to the test. That is why we have compiled a list of essential pro tips and tricks to prolong the life of your manicure and keep that polish looking impeccable for as long as possible.
Prepping Your Nails for Polish
Despite what you may be used to at the salon, it is best to skip soaking your nails in water before applying polish. As you soak, your nails retain water and expand. As they dry (after you’ve applied polish), they will shrink, causing your freshly applied polish to crack prematurely. Skip the soak and prep your nails with a swipe of nail polish remover to remove natural oils that will prevent the polish from adhering. If you prefer to go au natural, you can use white vinegar instead.
File Your Nails Properly
When filing your nails, remember that technique is important. It is recommended to gently file your tips in one direction only. Filing your nails in a back-and-forth motion can cause them to become brittle. Filing your nails regularly can help strengthen your nails and prevent breakage in the long run (if you are doing it correctly).
Mind the Length
Short to medium styles are much more durable, compared to longer nails that are much more likely to bend, peel, and break. If you regularly suffer from chips and breaks, consider a shorter length, which will be more manageable.
Buff Your Nails
Buffing not only makes your nails look great sans polish, but also extends the life of your manicure. The little ridges atop your nails can prevent a smooth application. When buffing your nails, follow the same general guidelines for filing, and gently sweep the buffer in one direction rather than in a chaotic fashion.
Don’t Skimp on the Base Coat
The base coat is the most important step in ensuring your polish stands the test of time, while simultaneously being the most skipped step in the manicure process. Not only does it protect your nails from staining, but it can also prolong the life of your polish if you choose your base coat wisely. For instance, you could consider a rubberized base coat that has a tacky formula that helps the polish adhere to your nail.
You can also consider your personal needs when looking for a base coat. If you are prone to breakage, consider a strengthening formula containing ingredients like keratin and calcium. If your nails are dry, look for hydrating ingredients like Vitamin E and castor oil. Whatever you choose, it’s important not to skip this step.
Perfect Your Application
The trick to a well-applied polish is to get the perfect amount of polish on the brush to do your nails in one coat. If you apply too much polish, you risk having a bumpy, air-bubbled finish. If you apply too little polish, your nails may look streaky. After perfecting the amount of product you need, apply the polish in three clean stripes, one on each side of the nail and one down the middle. Be careful to avoid your cuticles as this can cause the polish to lift off the nail once dry.
Allow Appropriate Drying Time
Let your nails air dry for two minutes at minimum in between layers of base coat, colour, and topcoat. The longer you wait in between coats, the better; anything less than two minutes spells trouble. If you don’t allow the appropriate drying time, your nails will remain tacky, and the polish won’t cure properly.
Add Extra Topcoat
After giving your nails a full coat of topcoat, let them dry completely. Once dry, add an extra swipe of topcoat on the tips of your nails as these areas are more prone to breakage.
Jessica Gardner | Contributing Writer