Newly engaged? Let us guess: The first thing you probably did after calling your friends and family was snap a #ringselfie for Instagram. Throughout your engagement, all eyes will be on you and your new bling, so whether you get your manicure done at a favorite nail salon or do it yourself at home, you of course want your manicure to last for always Instagram-ready nails—but how do you keep a manicure from chipping? After all, between wedding planning and your day-to-day, who has time for frequent visits to the nail salon or waiting for polish to dry?
We reached out to the nail experts for their best tips for a long-lasting and chip-free manicure.
Pick Your Polish
When picking a polish, you’ll have to consider more than just which shade will best match your dress. If you want a long-lasting manicure, be sure to do your research. Evelyn Lim, chief educator at Paintbox suggests brides opt for soft gel or soak off gel polish, a non-damaging and long-lasting alternative. Candice Idehen, owner of Bed of Nails salon, says, “A gel manicure would last you the longest—between two and three weeks. I would advise any bride to opt for the gel! You don't want to worry about chipping or broken nails on your big day.”
If a gel manicure just isn’t your thing, Idehen recommends Essie’s Gel Couture Polish. This easy-to-remove polish has a gel-like finish and lasts up to ten days. Lim also suggests these gel-like alternatives: CND Vinylux and Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro. These two-step formulas promise long-wear without the UV light required for a gel, as well as easy removal at home. And the kind of polish to skip? Matte. Idehen and Lim agree that not only will a matte finish not last as long, but it is also susceptible to staining and discoloration.
If You Decide to DIY...
If you go the DIY route, Hortūs Nailworks advises that you start your mani with dry, shaped nails. Then, swipe on nail polish remover before applying a base coat. "We like Orly Bonder,” they explain, as the formula will create texture that helps the polish adhere better and last longer. Another key tip for a long-lasting manicure? “Apply each product—including color—thinly and evenly, including the tips of nails.” They note, “Thick coats of polish tend to chip and peel.”
Lastly, you should always finish your manicure with a top coat. Our experts also recommend adding another top coat a few days after your initial manicure, whether you get it done at the salon or at home. Idehen explains, "After the second day of your manicure, I would put another layer of top coat to reseal the polish. Make sure your nails are free of debris before applying." Cult-favorite Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat and tenoverten's five-free The Shield are two recommended formulas.
Take Care of Your Hands
While drinking tons of water is essential for brides-to-be, it’s best to keep your freshly manicured hands out of it. Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of tenoverten tells Brides, “Don't take a shower within a few hours of getting a manicure and try not to wash your hands as moisture will get trapped in the polish and might lead to early wear.” If avoiding water just isn’t possible, Idehen advises, “If you have to clean, use gloves; and if you must wash your hair, use your finger pads—not your finger nails.” This will help reduce the risk of chipping and fading.
In addition to avoiding water, be sure to keep your hands and cuticles moisturized. Dry hands and nails will lead to dry cuticles and chipped nails, so be sure to apply a hand cream and cuticle oil. Abramcyk suggests moisturizing your hands before bed, allowing the skin to heal and hydrate overnight.
Prep for Nail Emergencies
No matter how careful you are, from chipped polish to broken nails, anything can happen on or before your big day. If you don’t have time to make it to the salon, there are a few quick fixes. A broken or chipped nail can be filed down until it's even. If the polish has chipped, simply apply the same color over the chip and reapply the top coat. If your nail is broken beyond repair, Idehen suggests grabbing a press-on nail and filing and painting it to match the rest of your nails. If all else, call your nail tech—she knows best!