Tips for a Long Lasting Manicure

Me and My Problematic Nails

I have weak, soft nails. They split and peel and as a general rule won’t grow much past the tips of my fingers, but what’s really irritating is that nail polish just won’t stay on them. It often chips a day after application. For years I just thought this was normal and that everyone had the same problem. Then I met women whose manicures lasted a week or more (not the popular gel manicure, by the way, just a regular nail-polish manicure). Why? They have thick, strong nails.

I seems logical that if some women have found nail polish that lasts longer than two days then I should be able to do the same, even with my soft, bendy, nails. So over the last year I have looked around, tried new products, read online reviews and asked for opinions on nail polish at nail salons and beauty boutique. After a great deal of this very non-scientific research here are my results, and my tips for a long-lasting manicure and beautiful nails.

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links imbedded in this site. If you purchase a product from one of these links I will receive a small commission, however, I do use all these products and purchased each of them with my own money.

Tips for a Long-Lasting Manicure

My Favorite Base and Top Coat

Most advice on creating a long-lasting manicure starts with choosing a good base coat, but there are so many and they all claim to keep polish firmly adhered to the nail. I tried many base coats from various companies and I can say without reservation that CND Sticky Base Coat is the best I’ve found. The pale blue color and unusual shaped bottle is cool too.

If you ask anyone what the best top coat is, everyone, I mean everyone, says “Seche Vite!” For some reason this is always shouted out with a great deal of enthusiasm. The excitement is well deserved. Seche vite means “fast dry” in French, and it does dry nail polish super fast. This is my prefered top coat for a salon manicure because I can’t usually wait 20 minutes for my nails to dry properly. It won’t keep your nails chip free for a long time however. For that to happen you’ll need a slow-drying base coat like the one below.

Barielle makes my favorite slow drying, super hard top coat. When I do my own nails at home in the evening this I apply a coat of Barielle Instant Liquid Nail Hardener after painting my nails. Then I go and lie down for twenty minutes while it dries. Once it does I know I’ll have perfectly polished nails for several days. Barielle also makes a Nail Rebuilding Protein that has really helped to strengthen my nails.

My Favorite Polish for a Long-Lasting Manicure

This seems fairly obvious, but if you choose a pale, sheer, nude nail polish color any small chips and wearing down of the polish at the tips of the nails will not be noticeable. When I want a manicure to last all week I choose one of the colors above. I’ve listed them going clockwise starting from the polish on the bottom left:

Wet & Wild Megalast nail polish in 2% milk: You would think that a nail polish that costs $2 would be awful, but it’s not true. This entire line of nail polish by Wet & Wild is the longest-lasting polish I’ve ever tried, period. It also has a fat, short, curved brush that I find very easy to use. The polish goes on the whole nail in one swipe. The color of this looks just like your nails are glazed with milk. It’s elegant and simple.

Mary Jo Matsumoto makes a delightful line of chemical-free nail polish. I picked up the Naked at the Beach Trio this spring. Unfortunately these colors are no longer available, but she offers other soft, pretty colors as well. For anyone who doesn’t like the idea of putting a lot of chemicals on their nails this is a collection to check out.

Essie Au Naturel is about as close as it gets to what I consider a perfect sheer nude nail polish. It’s beautiful. I was told by a salesperson at ULTA that Essie is formulated for natural nails, so it bends with the nail without chipping. This does seem to be true. I find that Essie’s polishes last longer than other high-end polishes.

Essie Sequin Sash is a pretty pale champagne pink with a touch of micro glitter. I’ve kept this on my nails for days and days. Even when it chips you just can’t tell because of the way the polish catches the light.

The Cuticle Cream that’s Not a Cuticle Cream

It has come to my attention that all the nail polish in the world won’t keep my nails looking pretty if the cuticles are dry and flakey. There are dozens of cuticle creams and oils out there but I prefer rubbing pure Shea Butter into my cuticles and hands every night. What a difference this one minute routine makes in my nails! The lavender scent is calming at night as well. I found mine at the health food store.

Shop the Products!

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links imbedded below. If you purchase a product from one of these links I will receive a small commission, however, I do use all these products and purchased each of them with my own money.


Tips for a Great Home-Spa Manicure

For this article I want to share my favorite nail products: the polishes and creams that have helped my nail polish stay chip-free for several days to a week. However, I think I would be remiss not to offer up a few websites with good manicure information. There are a lot of nail tutorials on-line but I like this one because the author is obviously doing it herself. It’s not staged! And here’s an article from Good Housekeeping that has a lot of tips on creating a long-lasting manicure, many of which I use myself.

What are your favorite nail polishes, base coats, top coats and cuticle cream? Do you have any advice on keeping your manicure nice for days? Please leave your tips in the comment section!

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23 Responses to Tips for a Long Lasting Manicure

  1. Oh to Be a Muse
    October 5, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I’m definitely going to have to use those base and top coats that you recommend here because I have the same issue with nail polish. My nails aren’t as strong as I would like them to be, so polish doesn’t often last as long as I would like.
    Oh to Be a Muse recently posted..Inspiring Style: Outfit Remix with HarrodsMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      Please let me know if you try them and how they work for you!

  2. Stacey - Total City Girl
    October 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Thanks for all the tips! I don’t always have my nails polished but when I do I’ve been using Spoiled.
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..Family Portrait Session: GrandparentsMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      I have a bottle of a spoiled polish in a really pretty denim blue but I haven’t tried it yet. Does the polish last for you?

  3. Assam Silk Sarees October 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Using these products the nails seems to be very fresh!

  4. Alexis Grace October 6, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    My nails take a beating and you are right- the only way to give them a chance is to make sure to include the base and top coats…. I NEED to get better about this!
    Alexis Grace recently posted..Cap Toe Shoes HysteriaMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Sometimes it’s easy to skip when I don’t have time to do my nails correctly, and that happens more often than I like!

  5. Ira October 6, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Awesome pics! Thanks for sharing!

    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      You’re welcome Ira. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Anna
    October 6, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I actually have a sample of Seche Vite but never tried it!!! For top coat I use Essie’s Good to Go…it’s fast drying too, but I can assure you my nails last up to 5 days without chipping!
    Anna recently posted..The quest for smooth hair (a review)My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Wow Anna I’ll have to try that Essie top coat. I tried one of their base coats that came highly recommended but it made no difference in the polish lasting longer on my nails.

  7. Sharon October 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    I have pretty strong nails but, I still can’t get my polish to last very long. I think that as long as I have a house to clean, I will never have long lasting polished fingernails and I am okay with that. However, polish on my toes last for weeks.
    Sharon recently posted..Becky of ‘lil BurghersMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      The polish on my toes lasts a long time too, but I’ve gotten better at the nails lasting longer. I do use rubber gloves when cleaning. I think it makes a difference.

  8. nicole October 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Thank you so much Heather. You have described my nails exactly. What’s extra inspiring is tat your hands look so immaculate. It might sound superficial but I feel so much better about myself and in control when I know that my hands look nice and well groomed. Last week I shook hands with our Prime Minister (Julia Gillard) who had the most perfect manicure- needless to say her hands were soft and well cared (I felt very shabby in comparison). Thanks again for your fabulous blog.


    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks Nicole! It does take a bit of work to keep nails and hand nice, but if you rub some shea butter or other rich hand cream into your nails at night I think you’ll notice a difference. Glad you’re enjoying my blog!

  9. Arash Mazinani
    October 7, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    Nails and beauty products are by no means my speciality but I do know a little about manicures from my girlfriend. She is quite a nail enthusiast and I’ve noticed she always uses a base coat when doing her nails.

    I think her favourite brands are OPI and a Barry M, completely different ends of the market in terms of price. She did get some Chanel Rouge Noir for Christmas once but found it really bad for chipping, it didn’t last very long so doesn’t really use it much.
    Arash Mazinani recently posted..Introducing Street Style IconsMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Its interesting how sometimes the high-end nail polishes don’t work well, and then some really cheap brand never chips and lasts for a long time. I find it’s pretty random. I personally have given up on OPI. It lasts really well on a lot of women, but chips off my fingernails in a single day. I do like it for toes though.

  10. DressCode:HighFashion
    October 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    Ok, nails are important but more important is that you give us an outfit post with what you`re wearing in picture one!!!

    I want to see more of what looks like a sexy ethno/oriental/safari style-mix!

    Hugs, Jen
    DressCode:HighFashion recently posted..Model Style at Milan Fashion Week S/S 13 (1/2)My Profile

  11. Mary Jo
    October 8, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Heather I’m so happy to see my polish included in your long-lasting picks–My pedis last forever, but since I tend to wash my hands 10x an hour sometimes especially when I’m handling leather my hands never last as long, but a good 10 days if I’m lucky. I’m going to try some of your other suggestions. I also find Jessica’s polish for weak nails to be the best–have you ever tried the brand? She’s out of LA?
    xo Mary Jo
    Mary Jo recently posted..signature style: mad about diana vreelandMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      Hi Mary Jo. I do love your polish! I go for the yellowy one every time I want natural with a little something extra. I haven’t heard of Jessica’s polish. I’ll have to find it and try! Thanks for the tip.


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