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How to Prevent Your Nail Polish

From Cracking and Peeling

Discover ways to boost your manicure's life from start to finish—no cracking or peeling nail polish allowed.

1. Opt For a Waterless Manicure.

"Your nails are extremely porous and can absorb water even faster than your skin," Dunne says. "Waterlogged hands cause the nail to expand and shrink within hours of the manicure being completed, causing the polish to chip prematurely. Your polish cannot contract as your nails do so the polish can chip and crack when your nails shrink back to their normal shape and size."

And waterless nail studio owners aren't the only ones who swear by the method. Gibson Tuttle also thinks waterless manis are the real deal. "Historically, manis have included water to soak your cuticles but the issue is that it expands your nail plate—and when that water evaporates, your polish will crack and/or chip." Instead of getting a classic manicure to make your cuticles look their best, she recommends going waterless during the mani process and tending to your cuticles daily afterward. "Regularly push your cuticles back in the shower and use a buffer to gently remove any excess cuticle," she instructs. "You can clip whatever is hanging (but nothing more!)."

2. Buff Your Nail Plate Before Applying Polish.

First, Gibson Tuttle says to buff your nail plate to make sure you have a smooth surface for the polish to adhere to. "Uneven surfaces on your nails lends to cracks more easily," she explains. "[After buffing,] prep by swiping your nails with polish remover prior to painting, even when not wearing polish—this ensures you don't have any residual oil on your nails, which can cause polish to not fully adhere."

3. Always Use Basecoat and Topcoat.

While starting and ending with base and topcoat tacks extra time onto a manicure, they're important steps that shouldn't be skipped. "Applying base and topcoat is critical to preventing chipping or cracking for a lasting manicure," Dunne says. "Basecoat is what allows the coats to adhere to your nails and topcoat is what seals it all in." Dunne recommends reapplying your topcoat every other day to prevent your nail polish from cracking.

4. Paint Thin Coats.

Quite simply, Gibson Tuttle says that "thick coats of polish equal chipping and peeling." Dunne tacks onto this, noting that, while some people think that the thicker the coat of polish, the stronger it will be, it's actually the total opposite. "The thinner the coats, and the longer you let them dry in-between coats, the longer the polish will last," she says.

5. Extend Color and Topcoat Over the Top Edge of Your Nail.

When you get your nails painted, pay special attention that your manicurist carries the color over the front edge. "It is extremely important that the free edge of your nail is coated with polish and topcoat so that polish doesn’t lift or chip from the free edge of your nail," Dunne says. Gibson Tuttle adds, "Capping the tip of your nail helps ensure the entire nail is sealed, which helps to prevent tip wear."

6. Use a chip-resisting top coat.

Top coats do way more than provide a patent-leather finish. Snag a good, chip-resistant lacquer, and it'll keep your polish from peeling over time.

Better yet, you might want to touch up the top coat after a few days—the polish can start to wear off after some time, which leaves the pigment vulnerable to chips and dings. "This is an important hack for keeping your nails intact in between manicures," Lin adds.

7. Resist the Urge to Shake Your Nail Polish Before Opening.

We know what you're thinking: Why does this matter? Oh, but it does. According to Gibson Tuttle, shaking leads to bubbles and bubbles lead to chips. As such, she recommends rolling the bottle between your hands to mix it without forming bubbles.

8. Use Polish and Topcoat From the Same Brand.

If you're like us, you likely have a collection of polishes from all different brands. While that's all good and well, Gibson Tuttle says to use polishes and topcoats from the same brand. "The two formulas are specifically formulated to work together to give you your longest-lasting manicure," she explains. Therefore, if you buy a new polish color, make sure you have a coordinating topcoat from the range. Otherwise, it's like wearing two different socks—fine, but not ideal.

8. Use Cuticle Serum Regularly.

Just like you apply lip balm every day, you should layer on cuticle serum daily as well. "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!) your polish," Gibson Tuttle explains, noting that it's super hydrating, too.

8. Replace Your Polish After One Year.

We know, we know: Once you have a favorite color, the last thing you want to do is throw it out before you've used it all. However, according to Gibson Tuttle, it's necessary. "Once you open a polish bottle, you begin to introduce air into the formula, which will eventually make polish thicker. This can lead to clumps, which will make your mani more likely to chip," she says.

Here is a nail polish suggestion, don't worry we've got more!

By: Rebecca Norris | January 13, 2022

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