You spend a good couple of hours polishing your nails with the anticipation that they will last a week. However, polish on some of the nails chip or peel only after a couple days and this makes you feel helpless because you could not even polish your nails right.

Why does nail polish last a few days?

Three main reasons why nail polish lasts only a few days are the nail shape is not appropriate for the daily uses of the hands, the polish is applied too thick, and the polished nails are too long.

How long does nail polish last on nails?

Regular nail polish should last up to one week if it is in good condition and applied on the nails that are well prepared for polishing.

Nail polish will not last on nails with sharp corners

Like any objects with sharp corners, the paint will chip or break at those corners first if they impact other hard objects or surfaces.

Similar to polish on the nails, it will break or chip easily if a user hits her sharp-cornered nails on hard surfaces like she is typing on a keyboard with her nails instead of her fingertips.

The reason for this is nails are flexible so they hit on a hard surface, they bend.

However, the polish on top is a little less flexible. When subject to repeated impact, two different layers have different flexibility levels, the harder, more brittle layer will separate from the other and will break away. As a result, nail polish peel, or chip off.

The best shape to wear on the nails so the polish will last longer without chipping is the shapes that have no sharp corners. Round, oval, squoval, and almond shapes are the ones that have no sharp corners so your nail polish lasts longer without chipping.

On the other hand, square, coffin, or pointed shapes do have sharp corners so they will chip fast if they are hit on other hard surfaces.

Thick nail polish will not last long

All nail polishes will become brittle after they are dried. The thicker they are, the more brittle they will be.

So thick and brittle nail polish on flexible nails will chip faster if they hit on other hard surfaces.

Another reason why thick nail polish chip is it takes much longer for thick nail polish to dry completely.

If a person uses her fingernails to type when her nail polish is not completely dry, for example, the partially dried nail polish might have some initial cracks. When this thick nail polish drys further, these cracks will get bigger and cause some part of the nail polish to break off or chip off. 

Nail polish will chip faster on long nails

Since natural nails are flexible, they will bend even more if the nails are long.

When a person with long, polished nails uses her hands and fingers, they are under more bending forces. Given a more brittle layer of nail polish on top, this excessive bending will force the nail polish will separate from the nails and cause it to chip.

Nail polish will not last if the nail edge is exposed

Nail polish is usually applied after a nail is trimmed and shaped.

All newly trimmed nails will have sharp edges, no matter how well we try to buff them smoother given the fact that we should not buff the nails too much or we will thin them out which we do not want.

If nail polish is applied on the nails and does not cover these edges, there will be exposed edges. Two things can happen to these exposed edges that cause the polish to lift up, peel, or chip off the nail it is painted on.

Water can get in between these two layers and cause the polish to separate from the nail.

Having exposed edges, nail polish will chip easily when it is subject to impact from actions like typing on a keyboard or scratching.

Nail polish will not last under extreme temperatures

Natural nails are porous and nail polish is not.

When both are under extreme temperatures, nails will expand when they are hot and contract when they are cold.

These expansion and contraction of the nails are much more pronounced if they have nail polish. When both nails and polish are under extreme temperatures, one will either contract or expand more than the other and they slide on each other. This ruins the seal between them and eventually, they are separated.

This more brittle polish is now no longer adhere to the nail surface and will chip off after one hard impact or repeated softer ones like typing on a keyboard.

How to make nail polish last longer?

Given the limitation of regular nail polish, if you can make your nail polish last one week, you are a pro (not many nail tech can guarantee their regular nail polish job can last up to 7 days).

The only prerequisite is you should know all the steps in doing a basic manicure already. The next step shows you how you would polish your nails differently.

What you need:

To make your nail polish last one week, you need a small, personal heated fan.

If you do not have one, a hairdryer is a good alternative but take all safety precautions since you will handle an electrical appliance near your manicure bowl. So make sure you put away or clean up all the water spots before you turn on your fan to prevent electrical shocks.

Here is how you do it:

Make sure your nails are free from any oily substances and cleaned.

With your small personal heated fan on at low speed and low heat setting, dry your fingernails in front of a small heated fan.

If you use a hairdryer, lay it on a folded hand towel so it will not move.

If it gets too hot for you, move your hands a little farther from the heat.

  1. Dry all ten fingernails for three minutes. Turn off fan.
  2. Apply a base coat on all ten nails and turn the fan back on to dry your nails for two minutes. Turn off fan.
  3. Apply the first color coat on ten nails and dry them with the fan for two minutes. Turn off fan.
  4. Apply the second color coat on ten nails and dry them with a fan for two minutes. Turn off fan.
  5. Apply the topcoat to the nails and dry them for four to five minutes. Turn off fan.
  6. Your nail polish is already dry to the touch and will not smudge.

What you just did was drying your one polish layer with air that is much warmer than room temperature before applying the next one.

And this is how you how to make regular nail polish last longer.

If you add all the drying times up, it only takes extra 15 minutes to polish your nails this way and your nails are already so dry.

Compare this time to twenty minutes or more you need to dry your nails and it can still smudge because they are only dry to the touch.

Caution: do not let the polish get too hot while you are drying them because it can cause bubbles in the polish.

Nails that are polished this way can last up to one week.

Note: you can achieve a two-week-long nail polish easily if you use gel polish. Gel polish is an advanced nail polish whose base coat sticks amazingly well to the nails. This is why gel polish can last two to three weeks.

However, this is a new and better nail polish that has both pros and cons.


To sum up what you can do to make your manicure last longer, here are what you can do to make nail polish stay on your nails:

  1. Avoid sharp-cornered nail shapes
  2. Avoid hitting your nail tips on a hard surface all the time
  3. Avoid exposing your nails to extreme temperatures
  4. Always prep your nail surface properly
  5. Always use thin coats of nail polish
  6. Always wear workable lengths
  7. Always seal nail edges with color polish and topcoat
  8. Always dry nail polish before applying the next layer
  9. Always put on a new layer of topcoat on clean nails after 2 days

If you follow all the nine A’s above, you will keep your nail polish on longer than just a couple days.

Try it and you will like your regular nail polish better than before because you now know the secret of how to make your manicure last longer.

Happy polishing.

Interest in knowing which one is the best nail salon near you? There are five thingsOpens in a new tab. that you must know so you can pick one that can give great nail services and safe to visit.

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