Back to the Basics
Never skip a base coat. The natural oils in our nail beds can make polish chip, and a base coat protects the color from these oils, extending a manicure’s life span by several days.
To clean off polish that’s seeped onto your cuticles, use a flat, stiff-bristled eyeliner brush. Dip it in polish remover, then gently swipe the edge of it along your cuticle. The color will come right off your skin without mucking up your mani.
If you do your nails before a summer vacation, take a bottle of UV-protecting top coat on the trip with you—especially if you’re headed to the beach. Exposure to the sun (as well as sand and salt water) dulls polish, but if you apply the top coat every day, your color will stay bright and shiny for your entire trip.
When you don’t have a full 20 minutes to wait for your nails to dry, fill a small bowl with ice water and dip your fingers in for 30 seconds. The cold hardens the polish instantly. But save this trick for when you’re really in a hurry, because the trade-off is that the color looks less shiny.
Women often ask what the most flattering nail shape is: round or square? For the prettiest look, follow the natural shape of the base of your nail, where it meets the cuticle. If the line is more curved, then round nails are best. If the line is straighter with only a slight bend at the corners, go with square nails.
When applying sunscreen to the backs of your hands, don’t rub it into polished nails. The ingredients in sunscreen can give colors, especially lighter shades, a yellowish tint.
Do not cut ragged cuticles with a nipper — it only makes the peeling worse. (Reserve nippers for removing hangnails.) Instead, gently buff cuticles with the finer side of an emery board (not a metal or glass nail file) to remove the flaky bits. This helps the skin grow back more evenly, so it’s less likely to chafe again.
If you wash your hair within 24 hours of doing your nails, gently work the shampoo into your scalp with the pads of your fingers — don’t rigorously scratch at the skin, or your polish can chip.
Remember that a nail file is for shaping, not shortening. I see so many women aggressively go at their nails with a file, which can thin the edges and lead to splits and breaks. Use a nail clipper to take down the length, then gently file your nails into shape.
To make your manicure last a full week, do what the pros do: After each layer of base coat, color, and top coat, run the brush along the edge of your nail tip. This quick maneuver creates a protective barrier on the tip that really helps prevent chips.
Hot nail colors seen on the streets: Magenta, bright yellow, mint green, burnt orange, pink (all shades), animal prints, colored tips, polka dots and glitter. Were you wear any of these??
For more info: Hot Summer Nails – The Mani-Pedi Bible – Redbook