5 Ways To Make Your Manicure Last A Month

There’s nothing more annoying than devoting your precious free time to creating an amazing nail look, only to have it chip, peel, or smudge after just a few days. We got so sick of manicure meltdowns that we asked a nail pro to show us how we could make our manis last for a full month. No really, a whole month. From proper polish application and quick chip fixes to a genius nail art idea for tired-out tips, check out this mani manual and learn how to give your polish some serious staying power.
Photo: Tracy Wang
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To get the most mileage out of your initial polish application, Jan Arnold, founder of CND, says that proper preparation is key. "Wash your hands with lanolin-free soap and warm water, then towel dry. Use acetone and a (fiber-free) cotton pad to remove oils and debris, which can cause polish to chip," she says. A base coat is imperative because it helps polish wear longer and prevents it from staining your nails (been there, done that). "Apply base coat to the entire nail, leaving a tiny free margin around the cuticle line, so polish doesn't touch the skin," says Arnold.
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While it might be tempting to generously apply your polish, Arnold says to avoid "globbing" it on — thick areas of polish don't dry correctly because the solvents can't escape evenly, which is what allows polish to dry hard and smooth.

Keep your polish layers thin and hold your brush parallel to the nail for smooth and even application. Place the brush at the back of the nail (slightly away from the cuticle) and ease it lightly toward the cuticle line, then float the brush down the nail, towards the tip. Do this on both sides, then seal the edge and let dry. Apply the second coat, starting from thumb to pinky. "Applying polish to the thumbs and working your way out allows for more set time, which leads to a faster drying time for the fingers we tend to mess up," says Arnold. Finish with a quick-drying top coat.
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Three days into your manicure, Arnold advises applying a quick-dry top coat, like CND Speedy Top Coat. It will add shine without softening the rest of the layers of polish, giving you that freshly lacquered look. In general, lighter shades of polish tend to last longer because they are easier to apply, plus chips are less noticeable. Glittery and sparkle finishes are more durable and help camouflage chips. "Neutrals and opaque nude polishes are perfect for long-wear, effortless in application, and also happen to be on trend this season," says Arnold.
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Not to be Debbie Downers, but the harsh truth is that no matter how perfectly you apply your polish, chips are going to happen. Fortunately, they're easy to fix. Arnold suggests using a buffer to gently buff out scratches and nicks, then apply a thin coat of the same nail color over the entire nail. Let it dry for a minute or two before applying a quick-dry top coat to seal the fresh polish. You can also apply the top coat to the rest of your nails to freshen them up. For smudges, Arnold says to dip your fingertip in a (tiny!) bit of acetone and lightly tap the smudge with your fingertip to "press it out," then finish with a layer of top coat.
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You can only apply so much polish before the chips take over and your nails start to look worn-out and dull. That's when a little ingenuity and a steady hand come in. Instead of removing your polish and starting all over, try creating some fun nail art. You'll buy yourself at least a few more days of polished goodness and get the chance to try out some fun new looks, without having to worry about ruining your nails. Arnold loves the tarnished metals effect: Apply drops of silver or gold metallic polish to the various bare areas of your nails, then use a makeup sponge to blend. Apply a top coat to refresh your nails, or just leave them bare for a more textural, industrial interpretation.
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