5 ways you’re sabotaging your manicure

It’s not the polish's fault for chipping…

Beauty Crew Editor / May 25 2017

It’s one of life’s most fulfilling moments when your DIY manicure turns out perfectly – no scratches, no smudges, no polish all over your cuticles and fingers. Just glorious colour and shine and the satisfaction that you’re essentially a manicuring pro.

And that’s why it cuts so deep when a chip appears a day or two later.

While you may think it’s the universe’s way of repaying you for the sneaky grape you ‘sampled’ at the supermarket or for tricking your kid into going to bed early, you could actually have yourself to thank for the flakes of colour that keep falling from your nails.

We spoke to Sally Hansen Nail Expert Alison Bowhill-Hayes about this conundrum, and it turns out there are a few surprising ways you could be sabotaging the longevity of your manicure.

Your nail polish is old

If you thought that two-year-old nail polish was still good, it could actually be your culprit.

According to Alison, your polishes (and that includes base and top coats) must be fresh, and stored well with clean necks and the lids tightly screwed on. Nail polish that’s past its prime tends to thicken and can be quite stringy when you paint it on. Added to that, the formula won’t adhere to your nail as well, meaning a chip is imminent.

If you want to extend the life of your polish, try storing it in the fridge.

You’re skipping steps

As Alison says, “Always base coat, two coats of colour, and top coat. No short cuts or skipped steps!”

Starting with a base coat will prep your nail by smoothing the surface and improving how the colour adheres to your nails, while a top coat will help seal the colour and up the ante on that shiny finish. When applying your top coat, make sure you run the brush along the edge of your nails, too.

TOP TIP: Apply a layer of top coat daily. Alison says, “Top coats help add strength and protection, and keep your nail colour looking shiny and fresh.”

You’re not prepping your nails

A manicure isn’t just about colour; you need to take the time to prep your nails properly, too.

Alison emphasises, “Prep work is crucial, a chipped nail will give you a chipped manicure.”

So before you reach for your base coat, colour and top coat, make sure to give your nails a good file, buff and shine.

TOP TIP: Don’t work your file back and forth during prep. Instead, file in one direction as this will minimise nail damage.

You’re rushing the process

We get it, you’re busy. But your wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am attitude towards your manicure is what could be detrimental to its longevity.

Make sure you leave enough time between coats for each layer to dry properly. If you don’t wait in between, you’re slowing down the overall drying time and putting your nails at a greater risk of smudging.

Alison also recommends investing in a good quality polish, as those of lesser quality have a tendency to chip very quickly.

You haven’t dried your nails properly

Now this one may come as a bit of a shock (especially to those who favour a salon manicure), but Alison says, “Don’t paint wet nails or nails that have been soaking in baths, showers or spas.”

When your nails are wet or immersed in water, they expand. Once the water evaporates, your nails will revert back to the regular state, causing the polish to crack and chip away.

If you’ve just washed your hands before a manicure, make sure you wait at least five minutes for them to dry before getting started.

Sally Hansen Smooth & Strong Base Coat

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure

OPI Top Coat

Main image credit: Getty

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.