Here’s the Biggest Secret to a Chip-Free Manicure

The experts agree: it's all about cuticle oil

A proper manicure requires upkeep.

A proper manicure requires upkeep. Getty Images

Few things in this world are more frustrating than a manicure that chips after just one day. Seriously, you shell out the money for a set of 10, perfectly shaped fingernails, coated in a shiny layer of bold color (or pale nude). And less than 24 hours later, your perfect digits are ruined.

Aside from investing in a gel mani, which is both more expensive and more potentially harmful than a regular manicure, what is there to do? As I suffered through chipped mani after chipped mani, regardless of salon, nail polish brand and dry manicure versus wet, I decided it was time to bring in the experts and see what they had to say about longer lasting manicures.

Clean nails are a must

This might be a no-brainer, but a blank canvas is the most ideal starting point for a long lasting manicure. Be sure to use a non-acetone remover, which will take off polish, in addition to the oils found on, or around, the nail. However, this is one time to leave your cotton swabs behind. Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of Tenoverten explained: “Using paper towel as opposed to cotton helps eliminate those nasty tiny threads getting stuck under polish.” You can also use OPI Expert Touch Lint-Free Nail Wipes, for the same worry free removal process.

If you have a feeling that polish remover isn’t doing enough to clean your nails, there is a way to take cleaning one step further. “After shaping and getting rid of the cuticle on the nail bed, it’s beneficial to use a polish primer like the Deborah Lippmann 2 Seconds Nail Primer to temporarily rid the nail bed of oils and debris,” recommended Ruth Kallens, the founder of Manhattan nail salon, Van Court.

Find a good base coat

“Every one of us has a different nail foundation,” said CND Education Ambassador, Kristina Saindon. “Some of us have nails that everyone dreams of, and some of us might have slight imperfections, such as ridges or nails that just don’t grow, while others may have nails that are flat, fan shaped, ski-jumped, or bitten.” This difference in nail type means that there isn’t a universal base coat that will work for us all.

According to Abramcyk, the base is the most important product of the manicure; she recommends doing trial and error to find one that works best for your nail type. After all, that trustworthy canvas can’t exist without a quality base.


Layer with a light hand

Up close + personal with a killer freehand design by @nailingitnyc for @revchrismurphy

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OPI celebrity manicurist Alicia Torello wants you to think light. “A big key to preventing chipping is applying very thin coats of your color. Even if you do three thin coats, it’s better than putting it on super thick,” she explained, adding, “it will help with your dry time as well.”

Seal those edges

It’s not enough to cover the surface of your nails with polish, the edges need some love, too. “Seal the free edge of the nail with a swipe of base, polish and top coats so that the polish creeps over the nail‘s end helping to prevent chipping,” suggested Abramcyk.


Don’t forget the aftercare!

Almost every expert I spoke to emphasized the importance of pampering your nails, long after you leave the salon. According to Kallens: “Hydration is the name of the game.” She suggests applying Lano Lanolin Allover Golden Dry Skin Salve to the cuticles daily, or as often as possible. For ladies on the go, she prefers Lauren B. Nail & Cuticle Balm, which comes packaged in a twist pen and can be thrown into your purse. Torello agrees that a daily regiment of cuticle oil will keep both your mani and your cuticles looking fresh; plus, moisturized cuticles will prevent the occurrence of chips.

Saindon would like to see women amp up their hydration habits even further, with the twice daily application of CND Solaroil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner. “It keeps natural nails and polish tough and flexible, conditions your nail and surrounding skin, and provides a barrier against water,” she explained.

And if all else fails, there’s no harm in applying an extra layer of top coat every few days. Not only will it keep your polish looking shiny, but it should help against the proliferation of chips.

Here’s the Biggest Secret to a Chip-Free Manicure