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Method and Products for a Long-Lasting Manicure


Alpha and Omega…of a manicure

More so than any other question about my nails, I’m asked what makes a long lasting manicure. If you’re willing to pay extra money at select nail salons, you may want to opt for Soak-Off Gel Polish (the pros and cons are described in detail here on All Lacquered Up). There are several companies that make it but most are familiar with the OPI brand, who makes a line called Axxium Soak-Off Gel Polish. Another option that is growing in popularity is CND (Creative Nail Design) Shellac, which is a hybrid of soak-off gel polish and regular polish (as described here on All Lacquered Up). As both of these methods require the use of UV light to dry the nails and the application techniques require skilled hands, these options are best left to the professionals AND they are much more costly than a traditional manicure. But the advantage is you’ll have a long-lasting, chip-free manicure for 2 (maybe even 3) weeks.

I will admit, I haven’t tried either of these methods because I like to change my nail color every 2-4 days, but I’ve heard only good things about them. However, Soak-Off Gel Polish/Shellac isn’t for everybody…so what’s a do-it-yourself nail diva to do for a long-lasting manicure? In the past year, I have tried several methods and I’ve got it narrowed down to 3 steps if you use the right products…

1. A good base coat. Much like a house needs a strong foundation, you need a good sticky base coat to create the bond between your nail and the nail polish color of your choice. I’ve been using CND Stickey (yep, it’s spelled Stickey) lately just to test it out and it seems to be doing well. But Orly Bonder is my tried and true, go-to base coat and I feel it is the best if you’re looking for longevity from your manicure.

2. A professional-brand nail polish color. There are LOTS of drug store brand polishes out there that are much less expensive than the more popular professional brands (OPI, Orly, China Glaze, Essie and Zoya–if you’re vegan). But drug-store brands just don’t cut it if longevity is your goal. Sure the colors are cute and the price is cheap, but generally the formulas are not made to last. A good professional-level brand really does the trick when applied with 1 thin coat of your color on top of the base coat then once that’s dry, another thicker coat of the color. I picked up the 1 thin, 1 thicker method of nail color application method after observing professional nail techs and I believe it creates a smooth, fast drying, but highly pigmented result. If you’re not a fan of paying up to $8.50 per bottle for nail polish, I would suggest checking out sites like for coupons at stores like Ulta or your local drug store (if it carries professional brands). OR you can check the clearance shelves at Ulta, Sally Beauty, etc for reduced-price, off season or discontinued colors. I just picked up Orly Star of Bombay and Honeymoon In Style at Sally Beauty this past weekend for $1.99 each! Completely random finds, but totally worth it in my humble opinion. 😀

3. A good fast-drying top coat. No one likes sitting around watching paint dry, but I know we all hate the telltale signs that you didn’t wait long enough…smudges, imprints, dents, and the like. As I have yet to perfect the methods for fixing mess-ups, I’m promoting prevention–I suggest Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. Seche Vite not only creates a shiny, hard exterior for your manicure but it also dries really hard in about 10 minutes. I’ve even brushed my nails softly by mistake after about 5 minutes with no smudging. It’s really good stuff. If you *really* want to speed up the process add 1-2 drops of Essie Quick-e nail drying drops to each nail and the drying time will be SIGNIFICANTLY cut down. Quick-e nail drying drops may or may not be from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter…I won’t be asking Essie too many questions about the formula…

1 other method/product recommendation you can try: If you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure that won’t get dull over time, use CND Super Shiney Top Coat (yep, Shiney). It is fantastic for that “just left the nail salon” shine but you must apply it every 2 days! I learned this the hard way. :-/ I wouldn’t suggest applying Seche Vite every 2 days because the formula is pretty thick and you don’t want layers upon layers of top coat on your manicure when it comes time to remove it. But CND Super Shiney is purposefully thin and applying Super Shiney every 2 days won’t give you a Super Thickey manicure over time.

*BONUS* If your nails are longer than your nail bed, you can try the method of “Wrapping The Tips” which is to apply the base coat and 1st coat of color as you normally would, then apply the 2nd coat of color and top coat a bit on the underside of your nail. Go ahead and open up a new internet tab and head on over to All Lacquered up again for a detailed description of this method. I’m not adept at this method because I like to keep my nails short. Short nails were required when I played the viola in symphony orchestras and string ensembles from elementary school to the end of high school. As an adult, I just don’t like the feeling of long nails. *shrug*

Now if you follow these steps–and you don’t work in a field where your nails are constantly assaulted–you can get up to a week out of your at-home manicure with no major chipping. That said, if you like to get salon manicures weekly, do not be afraid to take your own products! Whenever I get a salon mani/pedi, I hand the nail tech my Orly Bonder and Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat and they don’t even blink anymore. Sometimes I even bring my own nail color unless I see something in the shop that I like better or have been meaning to buy for myself. I have yet to ask for a discount for bringing my own products though……

SO I’ve only gotten one lonely suggestion for my 1st Nail Art Challenge/Contest post. :`-(! BUT I’m feeling generous because my birthday is this week SO I used the Sally Beauty Club coupon I earned for the month of April to snag an extra bottle of Orly Bonder this past weekend. If you make a suggestion for my contest, you just might win both Orly Bonder (my go-to foundation) and Essie Quick-e (my “I’M IN A RUSH” final step)…THESE ARE THE ALPHA AND OMEGA OF A MANICURE…according to me. 😀 That’s the prize pack as it stands right now so click the link above and enter my contest dag nab it! I’m bribing you! Sheesh!

P.S. I’ve been regularly reading the All Lacquered Up blog for about a year now and the lady who runs it has taught me most of what I know. Definitely bookmark it in addition to my blog of course!