Shhh: 7 Trade Secrets to Extend the Life of Your Manicure

manicure that doesn't make it past a day or two can be so frustrating. You know, when you've done an at-home manicure and painstakingly tried to re-create what the pros do in the salons. You spent so much time being extra careful not to smudge or get the polish on your skin. You had endless amounts of patience when you were waiting for your nails to dry. Then, a day or so later, you've got the dreaded chipping. What was the point of all that time spent?! And yes, this hurts when you've paid for a manicure, too. Goodbye, money!

I may sound slightly dramatic here, but I think you get the idea. Like a lot of things in life, why waste your time and money on something that's not going to last long?


(Image credit: @thehangedit)

Whether you're DIY'ing it or going to a salon, there are a few tricks to ensuring your manicure lasts a long time (or, at least, longer than a few days). I turned to nail experts to get the tricks of the trade—here's what they said.

How to Make Your Manicure Last Longer

1. Buff Your Nails

Before you start painting your nails, you'll want to do some prepping first. "Gently buff them to create a nice, gritty nail bed for the polish to stick," suggests nail artist Hang Nguyen.

2. Clean Your Nails

This is another part of the prep process. "With so much moisturizing we do lately post-hand sanitization, it is extremely important to clean the nail surface thoroughly to remove any oil or lotion residue off of the nail surface pre-polish application in order to ensure that the polish sticks on," explains editorial nail artist Queenie Nguyen. Alcohol can be used to clean the surface.

3. Follow These Layering Steps

"When you're doing your manicure, always use a base coat, apply your polish in thin layers, and use a topcoat. Thin layers allow the polish to dry more evenly," says Brittney Boyce, a consulting nail artist for Orly.

Hang Nguyen recommends capping the tip (or painting the end/edge of the nail) after every layer to ensure there's no lifting or chipping of the polish.

4. Wait for Nails to Dry

This seems like a no-brainer, but I would guess that a lot of us don't have much patience in this department. But seriously, wait for your nails to completely dry before doing anything. Queenie Nguyen recommends waiting a bit before doing any heavy physical work, too. 

5. Reapply Topcoat

"Reapply the shiny topcoat in between manicure appointments to extend the wear of the manicure," says Queenie Nguyen. "Or if you do your own nails at home, reapply the topcoat every three to four days to seal everything in."

6. Apply Cuticle Oil Daily

You've got to keep those nails moisturized! "Apply cuticle oil daily to keep your nails hydrated," adds Boyce. "I've noticed that when cuticles are well hydrated and healthier, manicures tend to last longer."

7. Take Breaks

Boyce also recommends her clients take breaks in between manicures to let their nails rest so they're in the best shape.

Long-Lasting Nail Polishes to Try

With all of those tips in mind, it also helps to have a nail polish you know is going to last a long time. You could do all of the above and still notice some chipping because your nail polish isn't up to snuff. Take a look at some long-lasting options below.

Nails Inc.


Smith & Cult

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro

Essie Gel Couture




Morgan Taylor

Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019.

In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot).

She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.