12 Major Manicure Mistakes You're Probably Making
By Suzanne Roberta-Meyer, MBA
Giving yourself a mani / pedi at home, or going to your favorite nail salon, may seem harmless enough, but there are some important mistakes that can ruin your entire experience. Today, we’re giving you the VIP insider scoop on which specific polish tips to heed and which ones to avoid entirely. Keep reading to unlock a dozen lacquer lapses that are often overlooked—and how to correct them so you always have your most beautiful nails.
Mistake No. 1: Not using a Base Coat.
This is a big NO-NO because base coats have so many advantages. They lay the foundation for the perfect manicure. They act like a primer and create a smooth canvas upon which to apply your color polish. They also seal the nail which extends the wear of the manicure by 3 – 5 days. Adesse base coats are also treatment base coats, so if your nails are dry dull or dehydrated, we recommend Hydra Veil Base Coat, which deeply nourishes nails. For imperfections or ridges, we recommend CC Smoothing Base Coat which melts over the nail, leaving its surface flawless. For yellow or discolored nails, we recommend Brightening Base Coat with optical brighteners that counter they yellow in the nail and give a neutral, bright appearance.
Nails also have natural oils on them, even if they seem dry, so it’s important to start by cleaning your nail plates with a gentle cleanser. We recommend Purifying Nail Cleanser; a gentle cleanser that cleans nails with lemon and cranberry bark extract but doesn’t strip them.
Mistake No. 2: Cutting your cuticles.
We know you've probably heard it countless times before, but this mistake is a cardinal sin. It's a health risk because you're basically giving yourself open cuts on your fingers, which have a huge potential for getting infected. Also, when you cut cuticles, they get scaly and flaky when they grow back, which never looks pretty. If you are one who likes nipping for aesthetic reasons, then opt for gently pushing them back. Once or twice a week, soften them with Cuticle Oil and use an orange stick to push them back.
Mistake No. 3: Not washing your tools.
Washing tools—including clippers, files, buffers, and orange sticks—regularly with soap and water is a must to prevent contamination. Never put your tools in a sealed bag because it just allows the bacteria to fester. Every time you use your tools, just sanitize them with antibacterial soap or Barbicide.
Mistake No. 4: Using the jet chairs.
If you’re going to a nail salon and look forward to sitting in a massage chair while you get a pedicure, you might want to reconsider. While the chairs can be relaxing (yep, we love it too), the jet basins that come with those relaxing chairs are a swirling Petri dish of bacteria. It’s difficult to clean the jets properly, especially in a busy salon that processes many clients throughout the day. Dirty jets mean dirty water which can comprise your foot and nail health. If you must have the jets, ask the technician to add a plastic protective lining to the bowl, or better yet, opt for the classic bowl without jets.
Mistake No. 5: Using Q-tips to clean up your mistakes.
It's all too easy for the cotton fuzzies on a Q-tip to get caught in your polish and disrupt your mani. Q-tips are the arch enemy of a beautiful manicure. Instead, we advise using an old makeup brush for more precise touch-ups. If you get a little polish on the skin around your nail, just dip a flat makeup brush into some nail polish remover and clean up the smudge immediately while the polish is still wet.
Mistake No. 6: Applying thick coats of polish.
Generous polishers, beware! It’s tempting to apply thick layers of polish, especially when you’re in a hurry. Don’t do it. Applying thick layers, or too many layers is a surefire way to get smudges, smears, and nicks in your manicure because it takes so much longer to dry. One of the main ingredients in nail polish is solvent. The solvent evaporates as the polish is applied, which is how the layers dry. Too many layers or too thick of coats won’t allow the solvent to properly evaporate and your manicure won’t dry. We recommend applying two thin coats and allowing 30 – 60 seconds in between to allow the polish layers to thoroughly dry.
Mistake No. 7: Shaking your nail-polish bottle.
Bubbles belong in champagne, not in your nail polish. Bubbles is what happens when you shake your bottle. Shaking the bottle traps air inside which creates tiny pockets. These air pockets, or bubbles can also form when you shove the brush back in the bottle in a pumping movement. It sucks air into the bottle which adds to air pockets in the polish. Instead, gently roll your bottle between your hands before you open it to polish your nails. We include mixing balls in our polish to ensure the proper mix of solvents, plasticizers, and pigments. It’s also why our bottles are round. Round bottles roll more evenly than square ones.
Mistake No. 8: Painting your nails in a hot or humid area.
Heat and humidity are your manicure’s nemesis. While it can sometimes be difficult, try to avoid polishing your nails in a hot or humid place. Heat and humidity make it difficult for the solvent to evaporate properly and leaves your nails tacky to the touch. Whenever possible, opt for an environment that is cooler and dry when getting or giving yourself a mani / pedi. If you absolutely can’t avoid it, opt for a fan to help dry your nails.
Mistake No. 9: Using quick-dry products.
Though quick-dry sprays make your polish dry fast, they also make your natural nails dry out faster. If you want the healthiest nails, you shouldn't use any product with acetone in it besides nail polish remover, because it causes nails to chip, peel, flake, and break. If you struggle with waiting around for your polish to dry, we suggest using a cuticle oil instead. Adesse polishes are formulated to dry fast, so you only need 30 – 60 seconds between layers for your polish to dry. If you absolutely can’t wait, try this hack; apply a tiny bit of our Sweet Almond Cuticle Oil to your nails, that way, if they bump something before they’re totally dry, it will slip from the nail and avoid denting your polish. Plus, it’s a bonus for your cuticles because it is light and absorbs quickly.
Mistake No. 10: Filing nails in a back-and-forth motion.
Just as the hairs on a violin's bow rip and get fuzzy over time as you move it back and forth, the same thing happens with your nails. That motion causes tiny tears and splits in the nail that can turn into full-blown cracks and slits over time. Instead, we recommend filing the nail in just one direction using our Glass Nail File Duo Set. Sure, it's a slower process, but the long-term results are completely worth it. Your nails will have a smoother and more refined overall finish that lasts.
Mistake No. 11: Drying your nails under UV lights.
Just as UV lights can cause damage to the rest of your body, those purple bulbs can age your hands as well! Fortunately, we took this into consideration when we formulated our polishes, so they dry quickly and don’t require this harmful treatment. If you’re in a hot or humid environment and feel you need a little extra dry time, opt for a fan only to assist the drying process.
Mistake No. 12: Washing the dishes and your hair.
Hot water is another natural enemy of nail polish. It lifts the new polish off your nails and causes it to chip, so wait at least six hours before submerging your hands (and toes) in hot water. We also suggest wearing gloves when washing dishes or doing any heavy-duty scrubbing. Another helpful tip to keep your tips in tip top condition; use medium temperature water in the shower and when washing your hair, instead of a burning hot stream. As a general rule for having a manicure that lasts – tone down the temp. Your nails will thank you.