Make Your Manicure Last

1/6 Mitch Mandel/Rodale Images
Fix Chips on the Spot
If your enamel is wearing off along the top edges, file down the exposed nail (using a clipper can crack your polish). "No one will be able to tell that one nail is a millimeter shorter than the others," says Ji Baek, founder of Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish. Use a glass file—it has an ultrafine grit, so it won't rough up the remaining polish—and run it in one direction. Try Sephora Crystal Nail File ($12, at Sephora).

 

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Buff Up
Buffing is a quick way to gloss up dulling polish, says New York City manicurist Tatyana Molot. Most buffers have several surfaces--stick with the smoothest one (too much grit will scratch your lacquer) and use a fast back-and-forth motion on each nail. Try Tweezerman 4-Way Nail Buffer ($3, tweezerman.com).

 

3/6 Mitch Mandel/Rodale Images
Reseal the Deal
Every two days, sweep on a fresh layer of topcoat to protect against damage--but don't use a fast-dry formula: It yields a thinner coat that's more likely to chip, says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer. Try Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Top Coat ($8, at drugstores). For fast drying, try plunging wet nails into a bowl of cold water, says CND nail pro Candice Manacchio.

 

4/6 Mitch Mandel/Rodale Images
Stay Slick
Cuticle oil not only softens the skin around the nail but also hydrates the nail plate, keeping it flexible so your polish is less likely to crack, says Los Angeles manicurist Tom Bachik. In the days following your mani, rub oil over nails nightly and before every shower. It will repel water, the biggest cause of chipping: H2O seeps between the layers of polish, which makes them lift, says Jane Park, founder of Julep Nails. Try Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($8, essie.com for salons).

 

5/6 Mitch Mandel; Claire Benoist (Glitter Polish)
Get Artsy
DIY nail art can breathe new life into an old manicure.

 

Glitter fix: To conceal chipped tips, swipe clear topcoat onto the ends of your nails, then dip them into glitter or sparkly loose eye shadow to create a cool edge, suggests Manacchio. For allover wear and tear, coat each entire nail with a clear-based chunky glitter topcoat, says Jenna Hipp, a manicurist in Los Angeles. Try Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in Happy Birthday ($18, deborahlippmann.com).

 

Sticker solution: Significant chip on just one nail? Create a quirky accent nail with an adhesive polish strip in a cool pattern, such as OPI Pure Lacquer Nail Apps ($12, opi.com for salons). Place one on the same finger of your other hand for balance.

 

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Painting Pointers
Four surprising reasons your polish job didn't live up to its potential:

 

1 You didn't BYOB.
Some salons stretch a bottle of enamel by adding a thinning solution to it—a move that affects the quality and shortens the polish's life span on your nails, says Park. Next time, bring your own along.

 

2 You forgot to tip out.
If you don't run the lacquer along the very outer edge of your nail, you leave it open to polish-peeling moisture.

 

3 You did hot yoga.
Heat interferes with the drying process. Avoid steamy showers, blow-drying your hair, even folding fresh-out-of-the-dryer laundry for at least 12 hours after getting a mani.

 

4 You hit the bottle.
The alcohol in hand sanitizers and sunscreen can break down enamel and make it dull, says Hammer. Try Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer ($4.49, at drugstores), which is alcohol-free.

 

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