Do clean hands and nails thoroughly pre-manicure. Cleanse with an anti-bacterial soap and be sure to swipe a non-acetone polish remover over nails – even if you aren’t wearing any polish. Nails must be absolutely clean and oil free for polish to glide on and stay on.
Do apply a basecoat – always. This prevents discoloration and creates a smooth surface for polish to stick to.
Do carry an emery board with you – it will prevent you from using fingers or worse, your teeth, for on-the-go grooming.
Do moisturize cuticles daily to prevent the cracking that causes hangnails. There are many great cuticle oils on the market, or choose olive oil for a natural approach.
Do apply a topcoat every other day to prolong polish life.
Do toss polish after six months, or as soon as color appears separated; spoiled lacquer takes longer to dry and the color is never quite the same.
Do submerge freshly manicured nails in icy cold water for three minutes. This will harden your polish so there are fewer boo-boos.
Don’t lay it on too thick. Less is more: 3 or 4 sheer coats are better than 2 thick coats to prevent bubbling and nicking, and speed up dry time. One dip and drag against the bottle top should do it for each nail.
Don’t sport chipped nails – nothing looks sloppier and yes, people do notice.
Don’t pick at chipped polish – it could damage the nail bed. Once nails begin to chip, remove remainder of color for a more put-together appearance.
Don’t go bare. Cleansers, sunscreen, and beauty products all contain ingredients that break down polish and dull its finish. Wear cotton-lined gloves to prevent wear and tear.
Don’t over buff, which weakens the nail bed – moisturize daily and use ridge filler instead for a smooth coat.
Don’t use your nails as tools; substitute scissors, letter openers, or make like Holly Golightly and opt for a Sterling Silver telephone dialer which prevents wear, not to mention makes a delightfully retro conversation starter.
Don’t let them grow too long – they’re more prone to breaking, are impractical, and look downright tacky.
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