Chances are, you've spent a pretty penny on a manicure only to destroy it just days, hours or even minutes later. Here are some simple things you can do to prolong the life of your polish and stretch your salon budget:
1. Bring your own bottle. According to Redbook, nail salons use polish thinner when their old polishes begin to thicken with age. While this will extend the life of the polish, it's a surefire way to sabotage a manicure. Thinners may prevent proper adhesion, causing your polish to bubble or peel. So bring your own bottle to be sure you have a fresh, high-quality polish.
2. Choose your color wisely. Jennifer Schonbrunn Hinkle of Real Simple says sheer, pearlescent shades are better at deterring chips because they contain more uniform particles. On the other hand, brown and beige shades are far more prone to chipping due to their chemical components.
3. Always use a base coat. Doug Schoon, a chemist and vice president of research and development for Creative Nail Design, tells Good Housekeeping that "studies show that a base coat sticks to nails better than polish does."
4. Skip the quick-dry topcoat. This may seem counterintuitive, but a quick-dry topcoat does more harm than good. Jo Cleary of Good Housekeeping says topcoats "evaporate so fast, they leave polish soft, mushy, and prone to denting." A slow-setting topcoat is worth the wait because it provides a stronger, more protective finish. If you need to speed up the process, Cleary says drying or spray is safe to use over your topcoat.
5. Dodge the heat. Redbook also says to avoid heat for 12 hours after your manicure. Though your nails may seem dry on the surface, it takes about half a day for your polish to harden completely. This would explain those annoying nicks and smudges that happen hours later. So hold off on washing your hands or showering with hot water for the first 12 hours. Also, put a temporary halt on less obvious activities like blow-drying your hair, removing towels from a warm dryer and cooking over a hot stove.
6. Hands off the hand sanitizer. In its April 2012 issue, Allure Magazine compiles a list of the top manicure wreckers. Alcohol in hand sanitizers is the number one culprit. Not only will it eat away at the topcoat, it will also cause the color to fade and appear duller.
7. No scrubs. In the same article, editors of Allure Magazine say to steer clear of body and facial scrubs. Exfoliators are abrasive enough to slough off the top layer of your skin, and they will do the same to your nail polish. Before lathering up with an exfoliating scrub, protect your manicured hands with a pair of rubber gloves.
8. Don't let polish dry out. According to Jo Cleary of Good Housekeeping, "the more your enamel dries out, the greater the likelihood that it will separate from your nail." To keep your polish moist, slather on hand cream several times throughout the day. Make sure you use a hand cream that doesn't contain alcohol. Before bedtime, rub oil into your nails and cuticles.