The key to a lasting at-home manicure is part nail prep and part application. Once you get these steps down, your lacquer should last a good week!
Step 1: Before you start polishing, prep your nails. Apply a cuticle eraser/remover to the base of your nails and push back your cuticles with an orangewood stick or cuticle pusher. This will remove the dead skin from the nail plate that you don’t realize is there – and leaving it there will cause your polish to chip. Next, file your nails and remove any leftover debris and oil on your nails with acetone, nail polish remover, or a nail cleansing solution.
Step 2: Once your nails are prepped, apply base coat. This will act as double-sided tape, keeping the polish on your nail.
Step 3: Wipe off one side of the nail polish brush on the side of the bottle. You don’t want too much polish on the brush or it will flood your cuticles; too little and it will come out streaky. Use the “three-stroke” method. Start at one side of your nail, just above the cuticle. Using the side of the brush with the polish, push the polish towards your cuticle without touching it. Then, bring the polish up your nail in one continuous stroke. Dip your brush in the bottle again, wiping off one side of the brush, and repeat on the other side of your nail. If necessary, re-dip your brush and finish with the third brushstroke up the center of your nail. Repeat with a second coat of polish, allowing the nails to dry for a few seconds between each coat.
Step 4: Finish by applying top coat. If your nails are long enough, be sure to swipe the very edge of your nails with top coat. Doing this creates a seal at the edge of your nails that will help keep polish from chipping. To keep your polish lasting longer, apply top coat every other day and cuticle oil daily.
Tip: Start polishing with your non-dominant hand first. You’ll be less likely to smudge the nails on your polishing hand. When polishing with the non-dominant hand: If you need to move your hand to get to the side of a nail, keep your polishing hand steady on a solid surface and only move the hand of the nails being painted. Again, this will give you more control and less chances of messing up.
-Stephanie Lavery, Editor-in-Chief