There are few things more annoying than peeling nail polish. Seriously, you spend all that time on a meticulous manicure, just to have chipped and unsightly nails within days if not hours. Or heaven forbid you shell out for a some fly finger art by the pros—only to end up peeling off your polish in sheets when you shower. What the heck gives?! We spoke to Gina Viviano, celebrity manicurist, to get the scoop on why your polish won’t stay put and exactly what to do about it.
You’re not letting it “set”
This is probably the most common reason why you’re having mani issues, says Viviano. “A full manicure with proper nail polish application (one base, two coats of color, one top coat) takes about six hours to set,” she says. Yes, you read that right: Six. Hours. “What you do in these six hours is crucial to how long your manicure will last.”
How to fix it: Stay away from water at all costs while your polish sets or prepare for peeling. That means no showers, no doing the dishes, and no swimming for six full hours. “Try doing your nails at night an hour before bed so they’re dry enough not to get sheet marks,” says Viviano.
Your nails are dry
We’re talking dry in the brittle, flaky sense. If the surface of your nail is prone to chipping and breaking, your polish will be too—no matter how strong the bond.
How to fix it: “Take care of nails and skin by applying a thick, rich lotion at least once a day and preferably at night,” says Viviano. Look for a formula with shea butter and coconut oil. You can also “apply a nice cuticle cream at night to ensure a healthy hydrated nail plate.” Viviano’s picks for nourished nails are Farm House Fresh Island Elixir ($17, amazon.com) and Dior Crème Abricot Nail Cream ($27, nordstrom.com). (We also like this nourishing coconut oil to help stay moisturized!)
You’re using the wrong formula
Not all nails are created equal. “Our skin varies from oily to dry and our nails, being a part of our integumentary (skin) system, vary too,” Viviano says. “I’ve realized that what works as a foolproof formula on one person, could be a disaster on another.”
How to fix it: If your go-to formula keeps chipping or peeling off no matter what you do, it might be time to switch things up and try another brand. When you head to the salon, bring your own polish so you’re not stuck with a selection that doesn’t work for you.