Anyway to begin. These are tips I've picked up from several different places on the web and I have found that by following these steps I can make my manicures last 5-7 days with no chips and minimal tip wear.
A lot of it has to do with good products. I've found that I like Zoya polishes the best, their color lock system is key to making the manicure last. If you only have time to paint your nails (and don't want to go to the effort of soaking or exfoliating), do it with the color lock system and you should be set.
Step one: Remove your previous manicure with Zoya Remove. If you don't invest in anything else, Zoya Remove is by far the best nail polish remover I have ever used. It cleans the nail bed and keeps moisture in. So much better for your nails. The Remove is the first step in the color lock system.
Step two: File your nails if needed. I don't file my nails every manicure, but if my nails are peeling a bit, I'll file it smooth. Or if my nails are getting too long, I'll file them down. The best file for all manicures is any glass filer, like the one I have below. You can find these at most beauty supply stores. I have a full size one at home and a travel size one in my purse.
Step four: Use a good exfoliate, such as this Qtica Sugar Scrub (I have the Exotic Mango scent, which smells so good). This removes dead skin off your hands and around your nail beds! It's not a necessary step, but is luxurious and makes me feel like I am in a spa! After you are done, dunk your hands in your bowl of water to wash off the exfoliant and dead skin.
Step 5: Moisturize! I use moisturizer on my hands every morning, but doing it as you get ready to paint your nails helps to make your hands as healthy and full of moisture which will help your manicure last longer. After I finish rubbing in my Qtica Luxury Lotion (also in Exotic Mango, so my scents match), I rub a little Remove over my nails one more time to clean off the nail bed and take off any extra moisturizer.
Step 6: You're ready to paint your nails. Now since I swear by the color lock system, I start with Zoya Anchor, then put on two coats of any Zoya of choice (here I chose Zoya Dakota), add on Zoya Armor and top it off with Zoya Fast Drops. Make sure all your coats are thin!!!
TIP: Before moving to your next coat, wait about two minutes. Not sure you waited long enough? Test your nail by feeling to see if it is tacky or sticky, if so, wait until it is smooth to the touch.
Step 7: After you are done with all your coats and you've sat still for about five to ten minutes (I know the hardest part for me is not to multi-task toward the end), you are set. Now I don't have a perfect recipe to stay within the lines, but my best tip to you is: don't sweat it. I've had a lot of practice and I'm still not perfect at it. The next morning when I'm in the shower, I use the warm water to peal off any mistakes I made outside of the lines. I promise you this works every time. Below, I'll show you my not perfect job at application!
Throughout the week, I make sure to moisturize my nails every day and any time they look dry (especially in the winter when it is so much more dry outside).
Just try out this system once, it really works. It might take more time than your average manicure, but it lasts and it feels good to pamper yourself every once in awhile (and not have to pay someone to do it).
You don't have to go to the extremes I do, but it's nice do to every once in awhile. I've left links on this post throughout in case you are interested in any of the products I use (and no, I definitely was not paid by Zoya to do this post, I'm just a total fan!). Zoya has promotional deals all the time, follow them on Facebook and I promise you won't be sorry. They just had a promotion where they gave out three of their colors for only a $10 shipping fee. Their polishes aren't cheap, but I think the price is worth it because of how high quality their products are (and their products are vegan friendly and free from harmful chemicals). Aren't sure about the color lock system? Check out their MiniCure Holiday set, that is what got me started on the system.
In conclusion, if you've made it this far, thank you. Just sharing a bit about what I like to do in my free time and I'm so happy you've made it this far!!!