Keep Nails Short
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Long nails are more prone to chipping and breaking than short, professional-length ones. Aim for nails no more than a quarter inch past your fingertips.
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When polish is applied to overgrown cuticles, it peels off easily. Keep cuticles in check by applying a drop of oil to them and gently pushing them back with a wooden tool. (Don't cut cuticles, which can cause them to grow back even thicker.)
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Apply polish to nails that have been cleaned with a cotton swab dipped in nail-polish remover. Any oil or lotion left on the nail bed will prevent polish from bonding to the nail—and cause peeling in a day or two.
Apply A Base Coat
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Even if you're in a rush! A specially-formulated base coat gives colored polish something to stick to so it lasts longer.
Apply Polish In Thin Coats
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Wipe one side of the nail brush against the neck of the bottle to ensure excess polish is removed. Then sweep the brush up the length of the nail in thin coats. Thick coats of polish bubble and peel.
Allow Polish To Dry Between Coats
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Manicure experts say that giving polish some time to dry before applying a second coat allows the first coat to form a better bond to the nail. The second coat will then bond to the first.
Wrap Polish Onto Nails
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When applying polish, sweep a bit across the edge and under the nail tip. This "wraps" the end, minimizing chipping.
Toss Old Polish
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Old nail polish changes consistency and becomes thick and gloppy. That means it won't have the staying power of newer polish. If you can't bear to toss your favorite old bottle, add a bit of polish thinner (not remover) to make it smoother.
Protect Hands From Water
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Immersing your hands in water for too long can cause polish to lift off the nail, shortening the life of your manicure. Use rubber gloves when you're washing dishes, and keep showers to a quick 10-15 minutes.
Apply Topcoat Daily
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It's the number-one way to ensure your manicure lasts. Sweep on a protective topcoat daily to increase your nail polish's staying power.