Just Say No To Chips! How To Get The Most Out Of Your At Home Manicure

Arguably, I have the absolute worst luck with my nails. Pedicures? Oh my toes can look good for ages, the only appearance of wear will be that tell-tale sign of grow out. Edges and gloss looking as pristine as the day I stepped out of the salon. Three months ago. Manicures? Good luck if I can make it last maybe three days without chipping. Needless to say, I am super hard on my nails.

Best Manicure Base Coat Top Coat For Nails That Don't Chip

The caveat to that exception is when I take the time to use the gel manicure with the UV light at home, where IT WILL LAST ME TWO WEEKS IN THE MIDDLE OF AFRICA. But that takes me a good hour to flawlessly apply and ain’t nobody got time for that. Well, at least not for every manicure. My go to line up for at home speedy manicures is the following.

I normally start by using an orange stick to push back my cuticles and then use a fine grain file to shape and smooth out my edges. Depending on how my ridges are doing, I might use that file to give a back and forth to the nail bed (by no means do I advocate this if you get acrylics frequently as your nails are thinner).

Getting rid of the impurities, natural oils, and residue of daily life is one of those a-ha moments of manicure tips that made all the difference for me. Right now I use the Formula X Nail Cleanser since I got it in one of those 500 point kits from Sephora. But you can also use rubbing alcohol (or probably a decent nail polish remover to boot). Basically you want to leave a squeaky clean base for your base coat, so that it actually adheres to your nail, not just what’s on your nail…

When you don’t want to drop the base (coat that is). Seriously I hate accidentally spilling nail polish anywhere. It. Is. The. Worst. Regardless of musical pun tangents though, I have two base coats that really work well for me right now. Pictured is Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base Coat. It surprisingly smells kinda wonderful, it dries quickly, and I like the idea of it being semi-nutritional for my nail bed. I also really like the Formula X Base Coat that comes in their nail system set.

Next is color. I usually pop two coats on, with plenty of time in between so that each coat can dry on its own. I’m the worst at painting my nails, then immediately needing to go to the bathroom as soon as you put on the perfect layer of top coat. So if I don’t do this step, you can bet that my whole manicure gets ruined in awful smudginess. Some of my favorite colors right now are Essie Merino Cool (thanks Brooke and Mandy for the nail envy turned polish obsession), RGB Oxblood, Nails Inc Gel Effect in Porchester Square, and Formula X Brushed Metallics in Spectacle.

Finish off with the cult favorite top coat, Seche Vite. However, despite the name meaning dries fast, I don’t find it to dry that much faster than any other option. What it does do is dry incredibly glossy and plump looking. It looks this way for a few days before I inevitably ruin my nails and have to start the process all over again.

Not to get too out of order, but lately I have been a huge fan of the Essence Nail Art Express Dry Drops. One, you can’t beat the price at less than a fiver. Two, it really does make your polish (whether color or top coats) dry faster. Plus, It doesn’t dry out your cuticles. In fact, I’ve found the drops rather nourishing. Three, I haven’t noticed that it drastically changes the wear time of your manicure, so applying it seems to be a no brainer so far.

Finally, my last step is try not to think about going to the bathroom, or needing to blow your nose,  or how delicious those potato chips sound. Because all of these things should be avoided until your manicure is fully dry. Though the nice thing is if you succumb to the call of the above – cause I’m totally guilty of this, it doesn’t take very long to redo a nail if you have to.

Shop this post: Formula X Nail Cleanser (or get the whole System here – plus it comes with a free polish & it’s a better value), Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Base CoatSeche Vite, Essence Nail Art Express Dry Drops, Essie Merino Cool, RGB OxbloodNails Inc Gel Effect in Porchester Square, and Formula X Brushed Metallics in Spectacle.

What are you go-to tricks or tips to keep your tips looking good post-mani? Do you have any favorite colors right now? Seriously, let me know because I purged more than 3/4 of my polishes during the move and only have like 8 to choose from right now… #NailHaulPending



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  • Hi Em!
    The Essence nail drops are so good! I don’t have any patients waiting for my nails to dry but oh I love a good mani! Have you tried the Essence no lamp top coat for that gel effect? It hardens any nail polish and makes putting on nail polish so much more quicker! 🙂

    x Josune, Your Beauty Script ❤

    • I have the top coat but haven’t used it too much outside of the initial testing period. I’ll have to revisit it soon! And I know, I get super antsy when I do my nails too haha [=

  • Danielle Beautyblog

    I really like Seche Vite, it’s the fastest drying top coat I have! I swear by OPI Nail Envy too, it has really helped strenghthen my nails and makes them so shiny!

    Danielle’s Beauty Blog

  • I’m one of these people who can’t keep a mani looking fresh more than 3 days, and I’m not even hard on my nails! A beautician once told me that some of us have nails nothing will adhere well to (I can’t remember why, something about natural oils?), and that UV systems were my only hope. I don’t have the time or the money for it so I just live with the fact that I can’t paint my nails more than 24 hours before a big event if I want to remain chip-free!

    One funny thing is that polish lasts a bit better on me if I do NOT use a base coat. I know it’s weird, but I’ve tried a lot of base coats and they all made things worse…


    • That is funny! Though at least you know what works for you (or I guess what doesn’t).