April 10, 2014 at 5:04 PM ET
Nothing’s more frustrating than a pedicure that only lasts a handful of days. Ward off chips and peeling with our straight-from-the-expert tips — just in time for spring.
Soaking = peeling
It's a myth that nails should be soaked in water as part of a professional mani. “Soaking adds moisture to the nails, making them expand,” warns Lisa Jachno, celebrity manicurist and co-founder of Labnails polish brand. When nails shrink back, all that expansion and contraction breaks down the adhesion between coats, resulting in peeling polish. If you need to soften cuticles before pushing them back, try a little cuticle oil instead.
Buff before every mani
Think buffing is just a way to make au naturel nails look glossy? Not so, reveals Jachno, who recommends buffing nails with a fine buffer as part of standard mani and pedi prep. “It not only smooths fine ridges, which can create air pockets that cause peeling, but it removes build-up of contaminants on the nails to help nail polish and nail treatments adhere better.”
Remove to improve
You’ve probably noticed that manicurists often swipe each nail with a little polish remover before painting on base coat. Turns out, this is one of the most important steps in giving your manicure staying power. “If your nails are oily or have any residue on them, your polish is going to chip,” says Pedicure.com's editorial director Elise Wright. For best results, try a quick wipe of an acetone-based remover, and be carefully not to touch nails with your fingertips once they’ve been prepped.
After you've painted your toes, “the secret to achieving a long-lasting pedi is to apply moisturizer daily,” says Candice Betz, spa director at W Austin’s Away Spa. Try heating around three tablespoons of your lotion or body butter in the microwave for 5-10 seconds before massaging it into feet. Your cuticles will get an extra bit of babying, while the soothing warmth will relax you head to toe.
Flip-flops are not your friend
Wearing the unstable, spongy-soled shoes regularly could increase your exposure to dirt, sand and gritty pavement — and this added friction can cause polish chips and callouses that will ruin a pedi within a week. A sandal with a solid sole that prevents your foot from slipping is a better choice.
Make tips your top priority
As nails grow and polish begins to wear off, moisture can form underneath the nail, exacerbating peeling. Top up your mani every few days with a new coat of topcoat. “Take extra care to seal in the tips because that's always the first place polish is going to wear and chip,” says Wright.