15 Mistakes You Didn’t Know You’re Making With Nail Polish

I am not the kind of person who is particularly well suited to the nail polish lifestyle. While I do enjoy the aesthetic quality of a smooth, polished nail–who doesn’t?–every time I paint my nails, it’s chipped within the hour and, like, fully gone within a few days. This is mostly because I have graceless hands that I often accidentally bang into doors and the bottom of my purse and other people, and, as a result, means that my nail polish is almost always chipped whenever I decide to wear it. So, usually, I don’t.

Anyway. I am sure you can relate. While your nails may not chip quite at the same rate as mine do (or maybe they do, and I am just imagining that my own anecdotal experience is the most unique one that there is!) nail chippage is something that affects anyone to varying degrees. And, while it’s not something that you can totally get rid of, should you choose to paint your nails, there are some things you can do to make them chip less frequently. So, check out these mistakes you’re probably making with nail polish:

1. Not cleaning off your nails before painting them:

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You know how, when you get a manicure, the person doing your nails wipes off your nails before doing anything? That’s important! Your nails aren’t dirty, but they probably have random oils and substances on them that you pick up throughout the day, so wiping them off helps your nail polish stick.
 

2. Shaking your nail polish bottle:


Shaking your nail polish is probably instinctual to you at this point, but try to resist the urge to treat your Essie like your own personal pair of maracas–this creates bubbles in the polish that can lead to bubbles and uneven gaps in your nails. To make sure the formula is evenly distributed, jsut roll the bottle around in your hands.
 

3. Skipping a base coat:

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Base coats are basically the primers of nail polish–so, you know, they’re pretty important. Applying a base coat helps provide a surface that’s easier for your polish to stick to, which helps it go on more smoothly and gives it an extra couple days.
 

4. Not applying a topcoat:


You’ll also need a clear topcoat–this helps protect your manicure, prevent it from chipping, and add a little extra shine.
 

5. Going to bed shortly after painting your nails:


You’re probably not crawling into bed immediately after painting your nails. That would be a mess. But, while nail polish only takes about twenty to thirty minutes to dry, it actually takes a full twenty-four hours to set, which means that painting your nails in the evening and going to bed shortly after could cause it to smudge and get weird imprints from your sheets. To deal, either try painting your nails earlier in the day, or run your nails under cold water about an hour after painting them to help them set.
 

6. Taking a hot shower after painting your nails:


Also, don’t take a shower after you paint your nails, okay? Even if you think the paint is dry, since the polish isn’t completely set, the steam and humidity of the shower could mess it up.
 

7.  Not using any particular technique to apply the polish:

? @frenchbeautyspas ? #manicure #clasico #francesa BARRIO ITALIA ?

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To get a smooth, manicured look, apply a small dot of polish at the base of the nail and brush it upwards. This is the best way to get an even application throughout the nail.
 

8. Glopping on loads of polish:


You also want to make sure that you aren’t putting a ton of polish on at a time–it’ll take a long time to dry, first of all, and also dribble over onto your cuticles, which will be annoying to clean up. Plus, thicker coats of polish have a higher tendency to get bubbly.
 

9. Not doing multiple coats:

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While you don’t want to apply one thick (thicc) coat, you should probably do a couple thinner ones, especially if you’re painting on a light or sheer color. This helps the polish maintain opacity and longevity for a significantly longer time than just one coat might.
 

10. Applying polish in humid weather:


Apparently, weather is something you need to take into account when you’re putting on nail polish. If it’s super humid out, your nails will take significantly longer to dry, since the air is already so moist. Obviously, if you’re stuck at home during a thunderstorm, and painting your nails is the only thing you can think of to do, that’s fine. Just know that they’ll take a while to dry.
 

11. Using old nail polish:


Nail polish is one of those cosmetics that never really seems to run out, right? Like, I still have this one OPI bottle from high school that still looks more or less the same as it did when I first bought it. But nail polish, like all cosmetics, can expire, which means that it’ll have more of a tendency to chip, bubble, and lose color. So, if you bought nail polish more than a year ago, you should probably toss it now.
 

12. Using too much hand lotion after painting your nails:


If your hand lotion is oily, and you apply it shortly after painting your nails, this can act as a nail polish remover and cause  your polish to come off faster.
 

13. Not creating a barrier if you’re doing complicated nail art:

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If you’re doing some nail art that requires a lot of polish and attention–all power to you if so!–you’re going to need to create some sort of barrier so you don’t get polish all over your cuticles. To do this, swipe petroleum jelly on your cuticles to collect the polish–this way, you can wipe everything up when you’re finished.
 

14. Using quick-drying products:

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Quick-dry nail products might seem tempting–they dry! Quickly!–but they’re actually not the best thing to put on your nails. While they do dry quicker than regular nail products, they’re pretty bad for the health of your nails over time and can cause them to dry out and break easier.
 

15. Not maintaining your polish:

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Even if you follow all of the rules here, your nails are still going to chip if you don’t maintain them. This doesn’t mean you have to reapply your topcoat every day–it just means wearing rubber gloves when you wash dishes, being careful when you’re digging around in your backpack, and using care when you open doors.

Obviously, if your nails chip, it’s far from the end of the world. But if you do want to keep your nails smooth, get those rubber gloves on.

Do you wear nail polish? Do you have any tips for wearing it? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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