9 ways to prolong the lifespan of your manicure - with guidance from the pros

To extend that fresh, post-manicure feeling, the experts have shared their top tips for maintaining your nails - for both at-home and in-salon treatments...

A close up of a hand with micro French tip Bio Sculpture nails by nail artist @matejanova/Mateja Novakovic / in a pink watercolour-paint style template
(Image credit: @matejanova/Mateja Novakovic)

There's nothing quite like that post-manicure feeling when your nails and cuticles are perfectly buffed and polished and equally, there's nothing like when the first signs of wear start to appear. So, to ward off the latter, we've quizzed the pros on how to maintain your nails...

Whether you're a frequent BIAB nail-getter or prefer to recreate the most popular 2024 nail trends at home, a neat and glossy manicure can be akin to wearing your signature jewellery - it elevates and never fails to leave your fingertips looking clean and chic. A trip to the salon, therefore, is often deemed a requirement for vacation and occasion prep but alas, no matter what treatment or shade you opt for, no manicure can last forever. That said, there are a few things we can to do extend the life of our perfectly painted talons.

So, if you're jetting off on vacation and want to make sure your nail look lasts, or perhaps you just don't have time for another salon visit in the coming weeks, here are nine tips the pros swear by for a fresh and enduring manicure...

How to maintain your nails, post-mani - per the pros

To achieve a flawless and long-lasting manicure, the key is in the prep and aftercare. Sadly it's never as simple as just painting on a few coats of your go-to neutral nail colour and calling it a day.

To ensure your manicure stands the test of time, there are a few things to be aware of, from the benefits of applying cuticle oil, regularly to the more low-maintenance nail shapes to opt for - and we've enlisted the nail professional to break them all down for us...

Our nailcare tool kit

Before we fully dive into the prep and upkeep of your 'Bubble Bath' nails and go-to French tips, we've rounded up a few initial staples to add to your nail care routine...

1. Prep makes the manicure

If you favour a gel nail look, Tinu Bello, Senior Mylee Ambassador says, "Ensuring your gel manicure lasts as long as possible involves both pre-manicure preparation and post-manicure care," and says to: "Make sure your nails are thoroughly cleaned before the application. Any oils, lotions, or residue can prevent the gel from adhering properly."

Kirsten White, Founder of London Grace echoes the importance of nail prep - even in regards to traditional polishes. After all, you wouldn't apply your makeup without first cleansing and prepping your skin with skincare. The same premise applies to your nails and to do this, the pros say to...

A close up of someone having their nails buffed by a nail artist during a salon manicure

(Image credit: Getty Images/Ridofranz)
  1. Begin by filing your nails: Select your desired shape and then, "smooth the edges of your nails," says White.
  2. Maintain your cuticles: Bello recommends pushing back your cuticles, "instead of cutting them to avoid any risk of infection and ensure the gel adheres properly to your nails." Use a cuticle pusher (like this one, from London Grace) or an orange-wood stick to do this.
  3. Buff your nails: Bello then says to, "Lightly buff your nails to remove natural shine. This helps the polish adhere better." White seconds this, adding that buffing the surface of your nails "removes natural oils" and creates a smooth surface for your polishes to cling to.
  4. Wipe your nails before polish: "Before applying a base coat, use a lint-free wipe soaked in acetone to thoroughly clean each nail, ensuring that any nail dust and oils are removed for a perfect painting canvas," advises White.
  5. Apply thin layers of polish (gel or otherwise): "Apply the gel polish in thin layers to prevent chipping and ensure a strong bond," says Bello before adding to, "Make sure the nail technician caps the free edge of your nails with each layer of polish. This helps prevent lifting and chipping."
  6. Allow time to dry: If you're using traditional polishes, White recommends allowing, "5 minutes for the polish to air dry before applying a generous layer of Top Coat." White also adds that while applying your top and final coat: "Make sure to fully cover the entire nail plate to seal in the colour and add shine!"
  7. Keep the polish off your skin: Bello also reminds us to, "ensure the polish does not touch your skin or cuticles as this can cause lifting.

2. Steer clear of water straight after your mani

Where gel, BIAB and other UV-cured manicures are concerned, Bello says to: "Refrain from exposing your nails to water for at least a few hours after your manicure to allow the polish to fully set."

3. Wear gloves where possible

"Chemicals found in everyday household cleaning products can also affect nail polish longevity so wear gloves wherever possible," says White. Even if you're just planning to do the dishes, consider first throwing on a trusty pair of Marigolds, to protect your perfectly pampered nails.

4. Never skip cuticle oil

We might sound like a broken record at this point, but cuticle oil is a manicure's best friend. In fact, White says to use it daily, "to keep nails strong and healthy and prolong the polish staying power."

A close up of someone rubbing cream into their hands, whilst wearing a pink linen-style robe.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Catherine Falls Commercial)

Bello also recommends adding a cuticle oil and hand cream to your nailcare kit to ensure your nails stay hydrated and prevent 'brittleness.'

5. Don't pick and peel them

It really goes without saying but to ensure your nails last, don't fiddle with them and be mindful of what you're doing with your hands. As Bello says: "Don’t pick at your nails or use them as tools. Avoid peeling off the polish as it can damage your natural nails."

6. Be tactical with your colour choice

Some nail polish colours are more forgiving than others, as White explains: "Glitter nail polishes tend to last longer (hence why they are more stubborn to remove!) and nude nail polish is also a great choice as it tends to be less noticeable if there is a small chip."

7. Respond quickly to chips

When the first chip inevitably appears, this doesn't neccesarily mark the beginning of the end. As Bello notes: "If your nails start to chip, you can file the edge to smooth it out and apply a thin layer of clear top coat to protect the manicure.”

8. Choose a low-maintenance nail shape

Our choice of nail shape can also determine how well our manicure's last. "File your nails into a shape that is less prone to snagging and breaking, such as rounded or oval," recommends Bello. Squoval nails are also idea, especially if you opt for a short length.

9. Opt for a lasting treatment

And, if you're seeking a manicure that is guaranteed to outlast a traditional polish nail look, opt for an in-salon treatment like Bio Sculpture nails or acrylic.

White also recommends shellac as a good option: "If I need my manicure to last a few weeks then my go-to is CND Shellac gel polish as it's one of the lightest gels on the market and therefore I find it the least damaging to my nail."

Naomi Jamieson
Digital Beauty Writer

Naomi is a Digital Beauty Writer from woman&home, where she covers everything from skincare to fragrance but specialises, particularly, in makeup and nail trends. Through her work, Naomi gets to share her trend expertise and share her own shopping recommendations and product reviews. Previously, she worked as a Lifestyle News Writer for My Imperfect Life magazine, where she used her savvy for TikTok to bring readers the latest beauty buzzwords, fashion movements and must-have products. 

Before that, Naomi split her time between both GoodTo and My Imperfect Life, whilst training for her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ, for which she earned a Distinction. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but leapt into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing. Now, when she isn’t reporting on the best perfumes and latest beauty releases, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping...