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How to Make Your Manicure Last

5. Moisturize Your Nails Nightly.

Dehydrated nails are more likely to break and split, while moisture-starved cuticles can become ragged, leading to those unsightly pieces of dead skin called hangnails. 

The most efficient way to nourish parched nail beds and cuticles is with nightly use of a cuticle oil, says Jill Weinstein, MD, an instructor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Keep a tube on your bedside table, suggests Weinstein, and apply a couple of drops around each nail, massaging into the cuticle. This simple step will help your manicure last longer, since brittle nails chip more easily.

6. Use a Base Coat.

Applying a base coat will help nail polish stick and wear longer. 

When you move on to lacquer, keep your brush strokes to a minimum and your coats to two. The fewer strokes you use to cover your nail, the less chance of streaks, Lewis says. You'll also avoid creating the air pockets and bubbles that can be caused by thick layers of polish, Reagan says.

7. Add a Topcoat.

Defend against chips by applying polish and topcoat across the top edge of your nails. This is called a "seal." 

Maintain the manicure by putting a new topcoat on the entire nail every other day. 

Still, even with the best defense, chips happen. Fix chips by soaking a cotton swab in nail-polish remover and dabbing it on and around the scratch or nick to even out the surface, Serquinia says. Apply a thin coat of nail polish and follow with a topcoat.

If you get a manicure in a salon, take steps to avoid getting an infection. Bring your own instruments or choose a salon that uses a device called an autoclave to sanitize instruments between clients. The autoclave does a better job of killing infectious germs than the green-blue disinfectant that you see in jars on your manicurist's station, says dermatologist Jeanie Leddon, MD, PhD, of Lafayette, Colo. 

Also, don’t trim your cuticles. Cuticles seal the gap between the nail and skin. Remove or damage this protective seal and germs can infiltrate, potentially casing infections. Instead, keep cuticles tidy by using a cuticle oil and gently pushing them back with a cotton swab.

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