How To Chore-Proof Your Manicure

May 7, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

A flawless, glossy, deliciously high-maintenance burgundy manicure makes us look and feel like royalty, but sadly, most of us still have to chop vegetables, pick up after the dog, and scrub the toilet between nail appointments.

Instead of cursing our lot in life, we should start thinking about our manicures differently—by chore-proofing them so that they last longer than a few days or a few dozen dish washes (whatever comes first).

We spoke with Dr Gary Evans, inventor of daniPro nail polish, who gave us 10 fantastic tips that will keep our polish pretty and in place while we tidy up our homes and lives.

1. Use a very fine metal or glass file (or a superfine emery board) to prevent tearing nails. Some of us (my hand is raised in shame) think of emery boards the way we do chewing gum–we pick up the cheapest one we can find at the store because we just need something to smooth an annoying jagged nail. Invest a tiny bit more in a quality metal or glass file like Caswell-Massey Diamond Dust Nail File and it will pay off big-time. Glass files are more gentle on your nails and, because they’re made of ground crystals, do a superb job of shaping the nail and smoothing out little bumps. If you’re a fan of gel or acrylic nails, your best bet is a metal file, which is extremely abrasive and made out of ground metals. When choosing between glass or metal, always go for glass when filing natural nails.

2. File in one direction to avoid peeling and breakage. If you watch your manicurist closely, you’ll see she or he only files in one direction. Filing all of your nails with light, even strokes in the same direction reduces the risk of breakage and ensures a more consistent nail shape.

3. Avoid shaping the sides of nails to prevent weakening them. Yet another nail crime I’m guilty of committing on a regular basis. No matter how ragged the sides of your nails look, turn to a cuticle cream or oil to treat them and use your file on the front of your nails only.

4. Moisturize with cuticle oil daily to reduce dryness and irritation. If you want a long-lasting manicure, it is crucial to keep your hands, cuticles, and nails moisturized–and your hands will need it most after spending a lot of time in water. I’m loving essie Apricot Cuticle Oil and, when I’m in the mood for a luxurious ointment: Qtica Intense Cuticle Repair Balm hits the spot.

5. Use a chip-resistant nail polish. They may all look pretty in their packaging, but as most of us have found out after years of purchasing polishes at drugstores and department stores, not all nail polishes are created equal. daniPro nail polish is fast-drying, long-lasting, and–our favorite part–infused with all-natural Undecylenic Acid, an antifungal. Is there anything better than a polish that multitasks? For the prettiest nude nail of your life, you can’t go wrong with Deborah Lippman Naked, which is made with biotin and green tea. And, for gel devotees, Red Carpet Manicure LED Gel Polish (in Violetta Darling, if you’re feeling Spring Fever) is unique in that it actually comes off without much scrubbing and soaking.

6. Minimize exposure to water. You may think the harsh chemicals in cleaning agents are to blame for the downfall of your manicure–and you’re not completely wrong–they are damaging. But, believe it or not, water is the number one reason our polish peels. We may not wash our faces and shower while wearing plastic gloves, but we should always have a pair of gloves handy (har, har) when we’re about to clean or wash dishes.

7. Apply a top coat to prevent chips and breakage–and then reapply it. The purpose of a top coat isn’t simply to make your nails gleam, though that’s a pretty nifty benefit. A clear top coat helps extend the life of your polish and creates a barrier between the world and your nails. Tiffany Barry, the founder of Lillian Eve–a vegan and toxin-free nail polish line–says we shouldn’t stop with just one top coat. “I always recommend women (or men) use a clear top coat over their manicure and reapply every 2-3 days,” Barry says. “Many don’t know that you should always ‘seal your nails’ by applying the top coat to the top of your nails and across the tip to help prevent wear.” O.P.I. RapiDry Top Coat is a magic potion that never fails to amaze me.

8. Clean your bathroom before a manicure. The good news is that, unlike dishwashing, which has to be done 100 times a day, you can probably plan to clean your bathroom before your weekly or biweekly manicure. The harsh bleach and chemicals present in so many cleaners we use to scrub our baths and toilets can weaken and discolor nails. Wear gloves or, better still, clean right before your next polish.

9. Stop using your nails to scrape food off the counter. You see something sticky on the counter and you instinctively race toward it, nails ready to act. Stop right there. Grab a butter knife, toothpick, anything instead and stop using your nails to do your dirty work because you’re going to chip your polish. And those of us who have boyfriends or husbands who rely on us to do things like open tricky soda cans because our longish nails are perfect tools? Let’s all say the word together: NO.

10. Beware of hairspray. Okay, French braiding your hair may not be on par with dusting when it comes to torturous chores, but we thought we’d add this one to the list to remind you of another household product that can wreak serious havoc on your nail polish: hairspray. Some hairsprays contain the same chemicals found in nail polish removers and can destroy your manicure. To be safe: wear plastic gloves when spraying applying it.

What are your best tips for making your manicure last?

Be sure to check out how to not ruin a fresh pedicure and how to treat (and even prevent!) razor burn.

[Photo: Imaxtree]


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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