Avoiding Chiptastic Tips

Despite the ridiculous chipped nail polish trend reported by the New York Times and sported by Vanessa Hudgens, most go to great lengths to avoid chiptastic tips. The majority of emails I get from people who frequent my site concern methods to avoid getting chips. I get these emails so often, I decided to just concentrate everything I know in one handy post for your convenience. These are all suggestions that have worked for me and people I know. In truth, this is a very experimental process. Ultimately, you just have to wade through the information and find the combination of methods that works best for you individually.

1. Be realistic. Are you’re a potter? Do you chew on your nails? Do you type 24 hours a day? Do you use your nails like a Swiss Army knife? (Use a real toothpick! Open cans with the sides of your fingers! Don’t tap your nails on hard surfaces!) Do you hand-wash dishes multiple times a day without wearing gloves? If you said yes to any of that, there is no magical combination of products, tips, or tricks on Earth that will help you achieve a super long lasting manicure. You have to change the way you treat your nails. One simple solution is to just wear gloves while doing activities that are harmful to your nails, it makes a world of difference. Sure, you’ll get made fun of, especially if you have male roommates but whatever.

2. Is it the surface of your nail bed? Most people immediately assume that chips are caused by bad product formulas but sometimes the culprit is the surface of your nail bed. If your nails peel, the unevenness can cause the polish to chip. The best way to deal with this is to lightly buff the peeled portion of your nail until it’s even. Be weary of over buffing, there a few things in this world more horrifyingly painful and uncomfortable than over buffed nails. I got chills just typing that sentence. If it’s a really bad peel with very pronounced unevenness, lightly buff and use a ridge filler (Barielle Camoflauge and Seche Ridgefiller are addict favorites.)

3. Is the surface of your nail bed clean? Oils on the surface of your nail bed can prevent the polish from properly adhering to the nail. Some people like to use vinegar, 100% acetone with no moisturizers, or alcohol to clean the surface. In my infinite nail snobbiness, I like to use specialized nail preps like Rescue Beauty Lounge First Step Nail Prep or Zoya Remove+).

4. Ok now the big question… is there something wrong with the products you are using? Most likely… no. I really don’t believe that any product is inherently bad. I don’t believe any polish, no matter how cheap, has an inherently bad formula. Any polish regardless of brand, when properly applied, should give you at least two days of perfect wear. There are some considerations though, some products won’t work for certain people but they may work wonderfully for other people. Your lifestyle and personal body chemistry will affect the results you get from any product.  You just have to find what works best for you and that requires trial and error.

5. What to try during your trials: Hands down, you need a sticky base coat. I personally love Color Club Stuck on You and Nail Laminates No More Chips. Other girls really love Creative Stickey and Orly Bonder. Pretty much, every company makes a sticky basecoat so take your pick and run with it.

A good top coat is a necessity, don’t fight it. I really love Seche Vite and Lippmann Collection Addicted to Speed. Other girls really love INM Out the Door and Poshe. As far as actual polishes, I personally get better results with higher end polishes. Rescue Beauty Lounge wears on me like it’s got Voo Doo in it but that doesn’t mean other companies won’t wear just as well. I’ve never had problems with any of the big name companies.

6. Finally, is there something wrong with the way you’re applying color? Maybe. Wait until the base coat is completely dry before you start applying color. I have found that working with very thin coats works best, even if that means you’re using more coats than you normally would. Three thin coats are better than two thick coats. Lastly, “wrapping” your tips, which means brushing horizontally across the tip of your nail with your top coat tends to help with chipping issues.

7. Use moisturizer all the time. Period.


8. Apply fresh top coat every other day – this does wonders for extending the life of manicures. I really like Nail Laminates Liquid Glass for this purpose. (Thank you for reminding me about this tip, Geraldine!)

If you incorporate all those tips into your routine and you still have issues, email me, we’ll find a solution.


27 Responses to “Avoiding Chiptastic Tips”

  1. Anicegirl Says:

    I became a little grossed/depressed when they mentioned that chipped nail polish was “in”. I kind of work hardish to maintain neat, well groomed nails. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I think the even most well groomed of nails come across crappyish when the polish is chipped. Also, I rely on the polish to prevent my nails from splitting, breaking and peeling. I don’t think I will fall “in” with the chipped look. I spent enough time with chipped nail polish in High School. A little remover and a clear coat looks a lot better then chiped polish…especially dark chipped polish. It’s just my opinion, of course, but I think a well painted, well groomed pair of hands will look MUCH better than chipped well groomed hands side-to-side. And if it was a job interview…I know what hands I would want XD.

  2. diana Says:

    I swear I should make up elegant parchment scrolls and hand them out to people asking me for nail advice. I am always happy to help people when they ask me, but I wish the basic info was more available to the general public outside the circle of polish mavens. Great advice and delivery. My speech always begins: “These are my natural nails…”. I then flip my hands over to show the back of my nails. That seems to impress people. I don’t know why. LOL!

  3. Marie Says:

    Great post! I agree that most of the work to prevent chips is done without products. I have a friend who honestly argues her nails are genetically weak and peeling and complains her polish chips easily, when the issue is she’s constantly putting her nails in her mouth and biting them… No wonder the polish chips?
    You have great nails so I think this post will have great impact on readers! :)

  4. Katee (e-polishblog) Says:

    Wonderful tips!! Thank you.

  5. Geraldine Says:

    One thing I find useful is reapplying a top coat every few days. If I’m lazy, I’ll add on a thin coat of polish to repair the chip and then top coat it. Usually works. And if that still fails, i’ll just redo the whole mani. If you use top coats like seche, the whole process is usually under 15 mins, easily done when you read the evening paper. :)

  6. dami Says:

    this was a great post steph! i’ve noticed that since I stopped trying so hard that my manicures last twice as long. I’m loving the Color Club Vita Base and I’ve been using Out the Door top coat. I do need to moisturize more, I used to be good about it now not so much.

  7. Brooke Says:

    I never have chips – but that is only because nail polish only lasts about a day! lol

  8. Kristy Says:

    I love my seche vite but for some reason it tends to yellow REALLY badly on me and I have no idea why :( Can anyone help?

  9. HaileyCosmic Says:

    I am so confused how chip polish could be trend. More like a bunch of people that could careless. Wasn’t the grunge look years ago?
    Great post!

  10. Rasberry Says:

    You online nail divas helped me soo much with basic tips a couple months back. I had given up on ever getting polish to wear past 2 days but now I can get to 4 with them looking perfect and 7+ if I do some quick touch-up every few days.

    Tip wrapping does wonders and my fave top coat combo of SH diamond strength + seche vite is the business.. I’m down for trying a serious base coat after reading this post. Thanks :)

  11. Rasberry Says:

    Forgot to add.. as someone who has had life-long ugly discolored weak nails because of vitamin deficiencies in my baby years, a pretty and long lasting mani gives me an extra boost of confidence… feels great :).

  12. pretear Says:

    Anicegirl – I agree. It’s also very hypocritical – if chipped nail polish is symbolic for ‘freedom’ then why are they still slaves to other forms of grooming and fashion.

    Diana – LOL. It’s like a magic trick.

    Marie – I know, I know. I always tell people, the easiest way to grow out your nails is to keep them constantly painted and I always get nay-sayers, “no no, my nails just always break a lot.”

    Katee – Thanks.

    Geraldine – Yea, definitely, I can’t believe I forgot to add that one. I’m going to have to edit that one in.

    Dami – I really like Vitabase also. I have to cheat on Seche and try Out the Door since all you guys have been raving about it.

    Brooke – Me too, I wear colors 2 days tops, if I’m really busy, 3 days. If I don’t change it I get all twitchy. Lol.

    Kristy – Hmm. Do you use sunscreen? It might be that. Does it always do this, like you’ve used different bottles of Seche and you always get yellowing?

    HaileyCosmic – I agree, it’s ridiculous. And thanks. : )

    Rasberry – Oh yes, definitely – let me know which one you pick and how it works for you! And I’m glad to hear that manis are giving you a boost. Have you tried taking Biotin? It helps a lot for people who have chronically weak nails.

  13. Rach Says:

    I totally agree! Chipped nail polish drives me INSANE, partly because I know how easy it is to make a manicure last without chipping. I get at least 5 days wear each time I do my nails, and most of that is down to wearing gloves during housework and opening cans with a car key. It’s hardly rocket science. I’m also a fan of the Stickey sandwich, and tip wrap base, colour, and top, but that’s because I’m a bit fussy that way.

    I also find my manicures last much longer when I keep my nails short, but that’s very much a matter of personal taste. I’m lucky because my nail beds are very long and my nails are quite detached, so I can file my nails back just past the finger tips, so I don’t see nail when I turn my hand over. I love elegant long nails on other people, and I’m sure if I wanted to grow my nails I could, I just much prefer the look of short square nails. But, again, that’s a personal taste thing.

  14. LD Says:

    I cannot wear a stickey base coat. They make my nails peel like crazy! Does anyone have any advice when it comes to this?

  15. pretear Says:

    Rach – I’ve heard a lot about the stickey sandwich but I’ve actually never tried it, I’ll have to get around to that.

    LD – Which ones have you tried? I’ve heard of some brands that may do that but certainly not all brands do.

  16. AtlantaJJ Says:

    A healthy nail bed is the most important start for a great manicure. I take biotin, silica and flax oil to achieve this end. I also use Sally Hansen 4 in 1 for dry nails to help out with my slightly damaged nails from years of acrylic nail wear. Thanks, your site is fantastic, a public service even!!

  17. AtlantaJJ Says:

    LD, try a nail hardener under the sticky?? If find I don’t need the sticky with the Sally Hansen….just a thought, perhaps some other ladies will chime in here…

  18. pretear Says:

    I completely agree AJJ. : )

  19. Amber Says:

    LD; Orly rubber base did the same to my nails..It literally took them about 2-3 months to stop peeling. They peeled like paper, and looked like little stubbs. I would just cry. Finally, I figured out it was orly, and tossed it. I went to Target, bought Sally Hansens “Tough as nails Nail Wrap” and also “problem nails”. i applied both every day for two weeks.
    Never looked back.

  20. pretear Says:

    I love success stories. : )

  21. Cynthia Says:

    Thank you so much for recommending Orly Bonder. My polish has remained chip-free for six days (and counting). With my lifestyle, I have never had a manicure last two days, let along six. This stuff rocks.

  22. pretear Says:

    Awesome! : ) I’m glad to hear you like it.

  23. Gabi Says:

    I’ve never seen anyone have this problem. When I moisturize with anything other than jojoba oil it loosens my polish, especially any products that have a vaseline base, but also things like Eucerin.

    This is very frustrating. Any help?


  24. Steph Says:

    Hmm… what base coat are you using?

  25. lina Says:

    When I put sunscreen or lotions with sinacerb on, some polish gets gummy. Why? How do I know which one?

  26. lina Says:

    That weird word is supposed to read “sunscreen”.

  27. Patricia Says:

    You have GREAT nails!! ;)
    I just started buying China Glaze (Tempest and Platinum Silver). Both go on really uneven/streaky/gloppy (too thick where strokes overlap and nail shows through in other places), have cuticle pull AND take forever to dry! Would using a polish thinner correct this? But then I’d have to apply 3+ coats! I’ve never had so many problems with a nail polish before! Even cheapo N.Y.C. has smoother, easier coverage than CG!

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