We love gel manicures for so many reasons — they’re quick, tough as, well, nails, and last up to two weeks. But the honeymoon doesn’t have to end there. Here are seven ways to make gel manicures last. Occasionally, I hit the mani lottery and my gel manicure lasts for a whole month. Other times, I’m lucky to open a Diet Coke the day after my salon trip without breaking off an entire coat. What gives? Well, there are tons of little habits that could be sabotaging your gel manicure so it barely makes the two-week minimum.
“If you undercure the polish and you don’t give it enough UV light, then the polish won’t firm up enough,” says Randy Schueller, a cosmetic chemist and a co-founder of thebeautybrains.com, according to Allure. “It is theoretically possible that if you spend a little more time under the light, you will get more bang for your buck in terms of durability.”
But if the UV exposure isn’t your jam, here are some other tricks for keeping that mani game strong.
1. Stay Away From Hand Sanitizer
This is a great practice in general, considering hand sanitizer dries out your skin, nail beds, and cuticles. It can also strip your topcoat, so opt for soap instead.
2. Apply Oil Daily
Your nails will break and tear when dry, wreaking havoc on your manicure. Keep them moisturized with cuticle oil.
3. Distract From Dingy Nails
Distraction is a powerful tool and optical illusion, my friends. If you’ve managed to keep your gel manicure on, but your real nails are peeking out at the nail bed or chipped at the very tip, hide them! Conceal them with glitter or turn it into a french tip.
4. Stay Away From Hot Water
Extreme heat, like soaking in a hot bath, will peel away your manicure. Keep showers short and not at extreme temps so your mani lasts.
5. Reapply Top Coat
Every few days, reapply top coat to keep the manicure protected and shiny.
6. Take Care of Cuticles
Painting over your cuticles can eventually result in lifting the gel from the nail and cause peeling. Instead of clipping your cuticles, push them back with cuticle oil.
7. File Your Tips
If the edges of your nails are chipped and rubbed away, gently file them down and then apply another coat onto the “free edge” of your nails.