3 Ways to Maintain Your Manicure & Make It Last

No more chips!

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How to maintain your manicure and make it last

Last week I let my roommate borrow my coveted dupe for Chanel’s Black Pearl nail polish, which she was very excited about. But she wasn’t as excited when, much to her dismay, she started noticing chipping in just a few days.

This got me thinking about how many women are faced with this problem. I mean, how frustrating is it to spend money on an awesome manicure with a great color, only to have the polish chip off in two days? Not cool.

So, to help you avoid this, I’m going to offer you a few of my personal tips for maintaining your manicures (and pedicures), and keeping them chip-free for longer!

1. Keep them short and shaped!

Short, shaped nails

I am very particular about my nail shape and that’s the main reason that I tend to do my own nails versus getting them done at a nail salon – it’s also part of the reason my nail polish stays on longer than my friends’.

I’m a personal fan of the “soft square” shape for my nails, which has a squared off end with rounded, smooth edges. I seriously believe this shape is a key reason why my manicures last – in a smooth, square shape, my nails are less likely to catch on anything and bend or break.

I also like to keep my nails short – I don’t like them going beyond my fingertip. Having shorter nails will help maintain your mani because they will be less susceptible to overt damage from the outside world! They won’t hit keys as you type (a frequent chip culprit for me), or bang into things, and will generally be more out-of-the way and safe from potential hazards.

And before you say anything, short nails can be just as cute as long ones! Need proof? We wrote a whole post on our favorite short nail ideas to get your inspiration going.

2. Top your nails off with a top coat (daily)!

This might be the most important tip that you’re going to read today! You know how when you go get a manicure, the manicurist always applies a clear top coat to the nails after your color? Well, there’s a reason for this and it’s a very important one! A clear coat is the main barrier protecting your polish from chipping and cracking.

We listed our top 3 favorite top coats here, so check that post out for recommendations. I’ve linked my favorite, OPI Top Coat, above, though!

To keep the salon look perfect, my personal suggestion is to do a clear coat on your nails every day throughout the duration of your manicure. I know that sounds like a lot, but if you buy a quick-dry one, it’s really not a big deal!

That alone won’t save your manicure, though: you need to apply it the right way! Typically, you should do one swipe of top coat across the tips of your nails, and then do the rest of the nail. Why? Because nails always chip at the tips first, so that area needs extra protection!

As a side note, base coats also make a world of a difference because they mean the colored polish isn’t just clinging to your nail, instead it sticks to another polish which really makes it last longer in my experience.

3. Make friends with your nail buffer!

I’m convinced that nail buffers were put on this planet by the nail gods to make our lives easier – these things are magical!

While I never go more than an hour without nail polish on my nails (by now you guys should know I’m a polish addict), I always buff my nails in between polish changes. (I love this nail buffer for this.) The whole buffing process makes your nails primed and ready to accept a new polish.

Ultimately, your polish will adhere better, and last longer if you have smoothed, buffed, and polished your nails. I do this every time I give myself a manicure and it makes a world of a difference. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

Don’t feel like doing all these things?

If you’d rather have a lower-maintenance manicure, give shellac manicures or soak-off gel polishes a try! These mani types are drastically less prone to chipping, can last for weeks, and dry immediately once they’re put under UV (or LED) lights.

Of course, they’re a little bit pricier at the salon than your standard manicure and require a bit of a process to remove, but it can be worth it if they can simplify your routine. Fair warning, though – they can be damaging to your nails, so avoid if your nails are weakened!

What do you think?

Do you currently use these techniques? Are there other manicure-saving techniques that you use? Have you tried the shellac manicure yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

15 thoughts on “3 Ways to Maintain Your Manicure & Make It Last”

  1. Don’t buff your nails too often though, it will make them weak and brittle. I am a fan of short nails too. I can’t stand long nails. I’m somewhat of a nail polish addict too. =]

  2. If you rub a peice of lemon on your nail right before applying a base coat, it makes sure the nail is oil free and allows it to lastb longer

  3. Hi,

    I have done the gel color gels on my real nails at the salon and yes they are pricey and it is time consuming getting them done but it IS appealing on the nails. It doesn’t chip and can last for as long as 3 weeks. The only problem is (at least for me) is that after doing the gel for a long period of time it’s hell on the nails. The nail bed becomes sensitive and the nails become brittle and chip and crack easily. So be aware!

  4. I love the “gelish” manicures. They easily last a month with no chipping, if your manicurist does it right. takes about 40 minutes and you’re left with a bright, shiny manicure for a month. It would last longer except it begins to look grown off.

    Acrylic is awful for your nails. It will completely ruin them.

    My regular at-home manicure involves one coat of Sally Hansen’s “hard as wraps” hardener (let dry completely,) one coat of “Seche clear” crystal clear base coat, two coats of polish, and one coat of “seche vite” quick dry top-coat.

    I only buff maybe once every three months, because it can thin your nails.

    I shape my nails, use burt’s bees lemon cuticle cream, and then wash my hands and use a nail brush, then use a quick swipe of acetone based polish remover to be sure my nail beds are clean.

    While process takes 30 minutes and my mani lasts between 10 days and two weeks, if I do a top coat every 2-3 days.

  5. i’ve dabbled in gels before and i think they’re great! i live in the mountains and am extremely hard on my hands (snowboarding, mountain biking, general digging in the dirt) and they last exceptionally well. as for the colors, maybe that’s just a shellac thing; if you get clear gels, you can polish right over them. you can even remove the polish and change the color without damaging the gel coating. pretty nifty.

  6. I just got one of the shellac manicures at my favorite nail place. For those who like them, that’s great but honestly, it wasn’t worth it. I just got it about a week ago and all the polish is gone. It chipped and peeled so much that I had to take it off. The only plus I saw was that it was super shiny. But I’m not getting one of the shellac ever again. It was a waste of $35

  7. Oh, I forgot to mention which topcoat is what I use. I use Olan’s Nail Optimizer. It’s made my nails so strong, and my polish lasts a good two weeks before it starts to chip.

  8. I beg to differ with the buffer though! You don’t want to buff your nails too frequently, because every time you buff your nails, you take a layer off which makes the nail very brittle and thin. It’s fine to buff them every now and then, but not too many times.

  9. Gel manicures still chip. The BEST thing for me is to get acrylic nails. I don’t get the big fake tips, I keep them short and just get the acrylic powder on top and paint polish over that. The acrylic powder is just a better bed for polish than your actual nail bed. Then I get a clear gel coat over it. It NEVER chips, and I’m really hard on my nails/hands. 🙂

  10. I use “No Chips Ahead” by Essie! Its great and usually lasts up to a week with out chipping! just a suggestion that I thought you might want to try!

  11. In my experience, buffing my nails makes my nail polish peel off in sheets (like, the whole things peels off in one piece). I only buff when I’m not going to wear polish.

    My chip-tip (hehe) is to swipe your nails with a cotton ball that has rubbing alcohol on it. This remove all traces of oil from your nails and makes polish last longer.

  12. I use the gel manicures, the ones that harden under uv & I’ve never had a manicure last longer!!
    It’s one hour, once a month & only costs $35 (with tip!) which is a really good deal! It’s only a $1.13 a day!! My nails always look great and I never have to worry. Tip your manicurist well, it’s well worth your while. If they know you appreciate them, they’ll work harder to make sure your mani is flawless.
    One tip, if you’re planning to try a gel mani of any kind be sure to let your nails grow out a bit before so they don’t have to add false tips.


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