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How to Make Your Manicure Last and Last

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in my world. Between packing up my entire life and looking for an apartment in New York City, my schedule has grown even more hectic than usual. Suffice it to say that fashion and beauty have taken a back seat to things like hiring moving guys (ugh). Fortunately, there are many ways for gathered ladies to save time and still look great. Today, we shall take on the manicure. Below, I’ve pulled together a few tips for making your mani last a week or longer, which means less time spent removing and reapplying polish.

1. Keep your nails short. Not only are shorter nails more practical if you have any regular interaction with a keyboard, they are also less likely chip or break. Longer nail are more prone to bending, and your nail have a lot more give than your nail polish. Nails that are just a little longer than your nail bed can still be feminine and attractive, just be sure to file your nails into a shape that is flattering. I prefer rounded nails for myself, because that shape tends to elongate the appearance of your fingers.

2. Don't soak. Even though your nails are hard, they're still porous. Soaking them will cause your nails to expand as they absorb the water. The subsequent contraction that occurs when your nails dry will cause the inflexible nail polish to fracture and loosen. To prep your cuticles, just use a cuticle softener instead.

3. Make sure nails are clean, dry and smooth. Buff any ridges on the top of your nails smooth to prevent the final results from looking bumpy. Clean your nails with a nail brush or old toothbrush and follow up with rubbing alcohol or finger nail polish remover to ensure that every ounce of lotion and body oil is gone. Make sure your nails are 100 percent dry before you begin polishing.

4. Use the right base coat. Base coats are great. They protect your nails from whatever crazy color you have planned for them. And the right base coat will also help bond your nail color to your nail. Try a sticky (sometimes called adhesion base coats) base coat the next time you polish your nails.

5. Neatness matters. Not only are messy nails less attractive, they also chip faster, turning them into a double hot mess. Getting nail polish on your cuticle creates an unnatural edge that will begin to lift and chip when the dried nail polish flakes away. This is only exacerbated by your natural nail growth. Aim to leave a slim sliver of bare nail as the no-man's-land between your polish and your skin.

6. For drying, kick it old school. UV lamps seem like a big step forward in nail care technology, especially compared to the humble fan. But! Just because something is faster doesn't make it better. The heat emitted by UV lamps prevents your nails from curing properly, making them chip faster. This also means you should generally avoid heat (like washing your hands in hot water) for 12 hours after you polish.

7. Protect your handiwork. Washing dishes? Gardening? Doing other finger intensive labor? Protect your nails with gloves. Need to add another key to your key ring? Enlist the help of a bare-nailed friend. Generally speaking, just try to avoid doing things that will jack your nails up whenever possible (and practical). This is the step I'm least likely to follow myself, but it really does help!

8. Stay moisturized. Get a bottle of cutile oil or a stick of cuticle balm. Use it regularly. Extra-regularly when it's dry or cold. You and your hangnail-free fingers will thank me.

My last mani stood up to 10 days of typing, hair-shampooing, dish-washing and just life in general.  Give these tips a try and let me know how they works for you! Have any special mani tips of your own? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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