Spent hours giving yourself the perfect manicure only to have it chip the moment you pick something up? Don’t we all know the struggle!
Well, it may have less to do with the nail polish you use and more to do with how you’re painting your nails. I spoke with Tom Bachik, L’Oreal Paris’ Global Nail Designer and celebrity “man-icurist” to people like J. Lo, Blake Lively and the Kardashian Krew, about the most common mistakes people make when painting their nails. Here are eight to keep in mind the next time you do your nails:
1. You use nail polish remover to clean your nails
You may have heard you should clean your nails with nail polish remover (even if you don’t have polish on them) to remove any natural oils that can affect the adhesion of nail polish.
Well, it’s true… and false.
Oils can block polish from adhering properly, but many nail polish removers contain lanolins and moisturizers to prevent it from being too harsh on our hands. These too can create a barrier between your nails and the polish.
For longer wearability, Bachik instead recommends using 70 to 90 per cent rubbing alcohol to clean your nails before applying polish.
2. You slap on topcoat too soon
Have you ever given yourself the perfect manicure and proudly gone about your daily business only to get a dent in the polish hours later? It may be because you applied your topcoat too hastily.
Now, I hear you — waiting for your layers of polish to dry takes an eternity and ain’t nobody got time for that. However because topcoats tend to be quick drying, if you apply a thick coat of colour or uneven coats of polish and slap on your topcoat before it’s fully dry, the topcoat will dry first, creating a seal and preventing the rest of the solvents from evaporating. Which is why dents and smudges can happen even though your manicure “dried” hours ago.
3. You’re holding the brush wrong
If your nails are looking streaky, it might be because of the way you’re holding the brush. Holding the brush at a higher angle may cause uneven pressure and the tips of the brush to drag through the polish, which creates lines.“Keep the brush flatter, press it out and then polish it,” say Bachik.
4. You’re filing your nails wrong
Do you curl your fingers towards you when you’re filling your nails? If you do, you’re doing it wrong.
“When you do that, you’ll follow the shape of your fingers and because none of our fingers are perfectly aligned, when you turn your hand away back from you you’ll notice your nails are all going in a different direction.”
Instead, hold your hand away from you with your fingers pointing upwards and use the horizon as a guide to file your nails for a consistent shape.
5. You’re using the wrong nail file
The lower the number on the file, the coarser the buffer, and vice versa. Bachik recommends using a sponge buffer that’s no coarser than a 240 grit. Anything coarser may cause separation of the nail layers, especially if you file back and forth, and you can end up with brittle nails and perhaps even a little bit of pilling.
6. You’re too rough on your cuticles
Clean lines make a manicure, but don’t get too crazy with the cuticle cutter!
“Your cuticle is actually a guardian, it’s a seal that protects the matrix area of where the nail grows out,” says Bachik. “You don’t want to shove that back and get underneath there as it can cause separation of the cuticle and possibly an infection.”
In fact, prodding and peeling away at your cuticle can have the reverse effect.
“Your body will sense that as trauma and will want to protect that area, so it will actually grow your cuticle back thicker,” Bachik says.
He recommends gently using an orange wood stick to push and even out the shape of the cuticle so you have an even shape from one side to the other.
7. You soak your nails
This may be the most relaxing part of getting a manicure, plus it helps softens your cuticles, making them easier to push back, but it can actually affect the longevity of your polish.
“You nails are porous and if we soak them too long, they soak up the water and it would actually change the nail shape,” explains Bachik. “Then, after we polish them and the nails dehydrate back, they shrink back to the shape they were, causing stress on the polish which can cause chipping and cracking.”
8. You file away ridges
A sleek coat of polish looks best on a smooth nail bed but filing away ridges can do more harm than good.
“Filing away ridges thins out the nail where those ridges are and as the nail grows out it’s going to split on you,” says Bachik. “Instead, use a ridge filler to fill in any gaps instead of buffing ridges away.”
Now go forth and slay with those nails!
For more info and an easy two-step nail art tutorial, check out the video below: