April 19, 2016
It was after a recent quick manicure that we saw our nail polish start chipping off before the day had ended, and we knew it was the last straw. Why on earth does nail polish chip so quickly on us whenever we attempt to do our own manicure? Surely formulas aren’t made to last mere days (or sometimes, even mere hours). So we decided we’ve had enough, and set out to figure out, once and for all, how to keep our tips chip-free for as long as possible.
What we’ve learnt since is that it all comes down to quality products, and more importantly, a good application technique. That’s why we pay the experts at the salons to get our nails done – it all requires patience and skill to get it right. But don’t fret and give up on all the nail polishes you’ve bought just yet! With a few simple steps and tips, it is possible to get a DIY manicure decently close to what a trip to the nail salon gets you.
Step 1: Invest in a good base coat, and always use it
Without a quality base coat, the colour isn’t going to adhere to your nails properly – it provides a smooth surface for the nail polish to stick to properly, by going over any ridges or uneven spots on your nails. We’ve tried skipping out on a base coat before, and we’re here to tell you don’t even bother trying: it was a massive fail manicure. Many quality base coats also have nail-strengthening properties, so you don’t have to feel so guilty about always covering your nails in polish. Oh, and always to be sure that your nails are completely clean before the base coat goes on, as any residual oils will cause the polish to peel off; just do a few quick wipes with nail polish remover.
Try: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Smooth and Strong Base Coat, $19.90, selected Watsons and Guardian stores; Nails Inc NailKale Superfood Base Coat, $27, Sephora
Step 2: Apply each coat of polish thinly
When nail polish goes on thick and gloopy, there’s a higher chance it won’t be even, or you’ll knock it into something and instantly ruin it. Observe how the manicurist does it the next time you’re at the nail salon – you’ll notice that she always paints the first coat in a thin layer, even if the colour doesn’t completely cover the nail; and each subsequent layer goes on the same way. This is the key to the polish going on evenly, with no streaking or weird bumps.
Another important thing is not to use polishes that are too low-quality. Of course we like our cheap drugstore beauty buys, but there’s a line between an affordably-priced product that’s of good quality, and a dirt-cheap one that’s just poorly formulated. The problem with these inferior polishes is that they’re too watery, making it difficult to get an even, yet solid coat of colour.
Try: O.P.I Nail Colour in Show Us Your Tips!, $16, selected Watsons and Sephora; The Body Shop Colour Crush Nail Colour in 820 Meet Me At Dusk, $12.90; NARS Nail Polish in Arabesque, $30
Step 3: Always wait for each layer to dry completely before painting on the next one
Patience, my young Padawan. We admit that we have a problem with this as well, as it’s just too tempting to paint on the next layer before the previous one is completely dry, especially when we’re in a hurry (note: never do a manicure when you’re in a hurry; you’ll never be satisfied with the results). How to check that a layer is dry? Gently tap it with a fingertip – if it’s done, it should not feel sticky at all. Sure, this will all take a longer time and requires lots of waiting, but just run an episode of your favourite Netflix series or Korean drama, and you’ll find your nails will dry in no time. Tip: Pause the show when you’re painting on the polish; we’ve tried multitasking, and it’s never worked out.
Step 4: End by applying a long-lasting top coat, ensuring to go over the tips of your nails
Of course, it’s crucial to keep all the colour in place with a good top coat, which helps your manicure last longer by providing a protective layer that’s nice and shiny as well (or matte, if you’re going for that look). We’ve noticed more brands coming up with gel-effect top coats, which promise to give your manicure the lasting power and glossiness of a gel manicure, but with none of the hassle of removing it.
Another key is to make sure to run the brush over the tips of the nails, since nails always chip from the tips, so it’s actually the most crucial to protect the colour there.
Try: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, $15, Sephora; Revlon Multi Care Base + Top Coat, $15.90, Watsons and Guardian stores; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel 2X Volume Top Coat, $16.90, selected Watsons and Guardian stores
Step 5: Try not to open any cans with your bare hands
As much as all of the above tips will help keep your manicure as chip-free as possible, of course any vigorous activities (like opening lots of cans) will significantly reduce the nail polish’s lasting power. You don’t have to treat your nails like they’re super fragile, but it’s a good idea to be a bit more mindful of what you’re using your hands for.
Main image: Gareth Pugh A/W ’16, courtesy M.A.C.