There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than checking out your nails just hours- or even a day or two- after getting them done, and BAM! Chipped. One chip or peeling spot ruins the whole look of your nails and hands, and while it’s natural for nail polish to start chipping or peeling off after several days, there are ways to help keep your manicure (whether professionally done or done at home) from chipping or peeling sooner or more easily than it should.
- Surface. Just like your skin, your nails accumulate dirt, oils and even sweat- all of which will bring on chipping and peeling. But unlike skin, those oils, dirt and sweat does not come from inside the nail, so if the nail surface is clean before polishing, it will stay clean after the polish is on. Also, if there are any rough edges or peeling on your natural nail, polish has no chance. Use clippers, a file and a buffer to create a smooth edge on the nail tip and a smooth surface on the nail itself. Bottom Line: Buff nail surface and edge smooth, and use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover on a wipe or piece of paper towel (I prefer this over cotton, as cotton can sometimes leave tiny hairs behind) to wipe the entire nail surface clean prior to polishing.
- Bubbling. Shaking your polish bottles can cause extra bubbling, both in the bottle and on the nail. Bubbling is not only unattractive, but it can lead to problems with fungus. Bubbling also can cause early chipping and peeling, so Bottom Line: If your polish has “settled,” roll the bottle in between your palms- and never, ever shake it.
- Thin polish. If polish is thick (which could happen when polish gets old, or if the polish was poorly manufactured,) it tends to get goopy. Polish that’s thick and/or goopy will almost certainly chip or peel quickly. This may sound strange, but thick polish will stick to itself better than it sticks to the nail, so it will pull away from the nail quite easily. While there are those out there who say you can “fix” thick polish by adding some polish remover to it to thin it out, if polish is thick or goopy, I’d recommend getting rid of it. Polish should be less than one year old, and layers should go on thin and smoothly. Bottom Line: Never use thick, goopy or old nail polish; polish, base coat, and top coat layers should all be thin and smooth when applied.
- Base coat. A lot of people truly believe that base coat is completely unnecessary. It’s not. Base coat has a few jobs: It protects your natural nail from getting stained or grabbing color from your polish, it can potentially prevent bubbling- which can lead fungus, and it helps the polish stick to the nail. In fact, there are even base coats that are literally sticky to the touch, which helps it stick better to the nail and helps the polish stick better to the base coat. (CND’s “Stickey” is one example.) Bottom Line: Use base coat, and be certain you are covering the entire nail surface.
- Shimmer. If you’ve ever tried to remove glittery or shimmery polish from your nails (especially if it was applied without a base coat,) you know that it can be difficult. The tiny chunks of glitter or shimmery material in these types of polish tend to stick to the nail better. So if you’re having problems with chipping or peeling, try using a polish with a bit of shimmer or glitter. There’s all kinds available, including several of Fergie’s new polishes from Wet N Wild; her line of polishes includes polishes with glitter stars, shimmery shapes and even metal slivers of silver. Bottom Line: Glittery or shimmery polishes stick better.
- Top coat. Top coat adds shine and a “polished,” finished effect to your polish, but it’s not just for looks. It protects the polish from scratches and nicks, which can turn into chipping or peeling. One important tip: Make sure you don’t overlap top coat onto the skin, or get so close to the skin that it touches. Having polish or top coat touching the skin in any place will cause oils to get underneath, causing peeling or chipping. Bottom Line: Use top coat, but make sure it’s not touching the skin around the nail.
- Drying. Other than working with a clean nail surface, nothing is more important than the drying of the polish. Polish needs sufficient time to dry. Some people think using cold water or fans or “nail dryers” will speed up the time needed for polish to dry. These things may take a few seconds off your drying time, but don’t be fooled: Polish is a thick, gel-cream product, and it dries from the outside in. It needs at least 45 minutes for all the layers to completely harden from its liquid state into its hardened state. Bottom Line: No matter what, allow your nails at least 45-60 minutes to dry. Period.
As you may know, there has been an explosion of inexpensive, easy-to-do gel nail polishes for natural nails (not extended nails or nail tips) on the market in the last two years, including CND’s “Shellac” and OPI’s “GelColor.” These are polishes designed for natural nails, but are thicker gel products that require a lamp to cure (harden.) You can get this professionally done, or you can attempt it at home (which would cost a bit more upfront.) Once applied and cured, these polishes last for up to 14 days without chipping or peeling. So this may be something to try if you’re interested.