How To Make Your Pedicure Last Longer

July 19, 2012 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | beauty
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In the summer, your beauty routine goes from 0 to 60; suddenly, you have to shave every day, use extra hair product to fight frizz, and get pedicures more often than once every 3 months. With your toes on constant display,  a good polish job is more important than ever. But who has the time (or money) for weekly pedicures at $40 a pop? Your local salon might not want you to know that you don’t have to go that often, but our experts do. Enter celebrity manicurists Jenna Hipp (Drew Barrymore, Jessica Alba) and Erica Marton (Mary Lousie Parker, Rashida Jones). These pro’s have given up the goods: read ahead for the pedi products experts swear by (some from drugstore aisle!), a definitive answer on how to fix a chip, and the surprising tips that only an insider would know (like, how nail polish remover actually causes chips!).

To Prep: 

1. Don’t use nail polish remover. “The nail bed has to be completely free of oils before painting for your longest lasting manicure,” Jenna told us. “Most removers are fortified with vitamin oils and glycerine, creating a slippery surface for polish that leads to chips.” Jenna says skip the nail polish remover and scrub nails with a brush (an old toothbrush will do) and hand soap instead, then dab on a small amount of 70% rubbing alcohol-30% water solution with a lint free cotton pad, like these Swisspers Cotton Rounds ($2.89).

2. Use a crystal file. “Traditional files made from cardboard and metal, and are too harsh,” Jenna advised. Instead, opt for a crystal file, like this Crystal Nail File ($12) from Sephora, which smooths the edge of the nail instead of ripping into it.

3. Make sure cuticles are properly pushed back. “Cuticle left on the nail bed can cause the polish to peel up,” Erica explains. If you’re doing your pedi at home, use this Tweezerman Pushy Cuticle Pusher ($17).

4. Choose your base coat wisely. Choose the same brand of base as your top coat and polish because, “all brands formulate their products to work best together,” Jenna advises. “Base coat is key,” Erica confirms.  She recommends Orly ‘Bonder’ Base Coat ($7.10), a rubberized base coat that grips the polish and makes it go on smoother.

 During Application:

Never paint in a draft. This causes bubbles! Only expose your toes to cool air after two coats of polish has been applied to the nail.

Use a good top coat. Erica’s favorite (“I use it all day everyday!) is Seche Vite Quick Drying Top Coat ($9.99).

Try nail wraps instead of polish. Jenna recommends using “dry nail polish” or nail wraps like OPI Lacquer Strips ($12) or Sally Hansen Salon Effects because they are “easy and long wearing.”

Use a drying accelerator. Quick drying drops like Qtica Half Time Drying Accelerator ($19) extends the wear of polish and leave polish rock hard in 5-10 minutes, according to Erica who uses it for all her clients and calls it “amazing.”


Avoid contact for 30 minutes. While your polish may seem dry after 5-10 minutes, avoid direct contact on the toes for at least 30 minutes. This means no closed-toe shoes, walking in sand, or dancing in the streets. Sorry!

Apply ointment to calluses. To keep heels and hard callus areas smooth between pedicures, use Erica’s favorite Kerasal Moisturizing Foot Ointment ($9.99) which contains salicylic acid and urea.

Moisturize. “A good moisturizer is also essential,” says Eric, who recommends Weleda “Skin Food” or Ahava Mineral Hand Cream ($21).

Reapply a thin layer of topcoat after 5-7 days. About a week or so after your pedicure, reapply use a thin top coat, like Revlon Top Coat or Wet N’ Wild Top Coat, which protect the polish without appearing too thick.

Hide chips with a coat of glitter. Erica tells her clients to apply a coat of glitter on the tip of the nail bed, similar to a French manicure but with glitter instead of a white stripe. You can also apply glitter to the whole nail, and then always follow with a thin layer of top coat.

Cover chips with polish and a thin layer of top coat. “It’s very simple to fix a chipped nail,” Erica promises. “Get the color or a very similar color and dab a very thin layer of polish to cover the chip. Then apply a thin layer of top coat.” Now, you’re good to go!




Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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