How to Make Finger Nail Polish Stay Put

. . . . at least a bit longer.

I painted my finger nails recently for the first time in about 15 years.  I gave up doing this during college because I would spend all of this time painting them, waiting for it to dry and then carefully getting it off my surrounding skin to only have it start chipping off 3-4 hours later.  If I painted them for a special occasion, it would start to chip at the beginning of the event and then I would be self conscious about it the rest of the night.  I went the acrylic route for a while after my wedding, but it burned a whole lot getting them filled and I just got tired of them after a while.  Add to this that my fingers nails were never that strong and had a tendency to peel and I just quit.

A few years ago, after my kids were born (and my hair was falling out), I discovered biotin.  It is a great supplement for hair, nails and skin (I take the GNC supplement which has some other vitamins besides just the biotin.  It seemed to work a lot better for me than the biotin on its own).  While this dramatically reduced the shedding of my hair, the other great thing was that my nails got very strong.  They were growing longer than I had been able to keep them and they looked quite nice.  I wanted to start painting them again, occasionally but didn’t want to go through the hassle just to have it chip off after a couple of hours.

Witch hazel bush

I did some research online and discovered that if you wipe your nails with witch hazel first, it removes the oils that cause the polish to ship off.  I had tried washing my nails really well.  I think I had even tried rubbing alcohol and neither worked. I gave the witch hazel a try a couple of weeks ago and the polish lasted for about 48 hours.  Now, that might not sound very long to many of you but for me this was huge.  It’s long enough where if we are going out for a nice evening that I can paint them and not be self conscious for the evening.  I can go two days with pretty hands without worry about the polish flicking off with hardly a touch.  Also, since I just tried it on a whim, I didn’t take care to be very careful with the polish these two days.  I went around the house and did things normally to see how it would hold up.  I think if I had taken a bit more care (gloves to clean, that sort of thing) it would have lasted a bit longer.  I think, depending on each women’s nail oiliness,  for some women their polish would last them a week.  As a bonus, I read up more on witch hazel after this experiment and it is also an excellent toner for the face!

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12 thoughts on “How to Make Finger Nail Polish Stay Put

  1. For years I resisted wearing nail polish because it seemed like such a hassle, even though my (now) husband repeatedly dropped hints that he loved manicured nails.

    Then one day it just clicked. I wanted to paint my nails. Long story short: my nails have been continuously painted for the last 3 years. I love having colour on my nails, and my husband loves it too.

    Here is my secret to long lasting polish: even though nail polish seemingly dries within minutes, it is actually ‘soft’ for several hours, and heat-sensitive for about 12 hours. You have to pick a time when you wont be doing anything more than minor typing for a few hours. Paint your nails (yes, oily nails make polish less stable). Let each coat dry fully before applying the next. Full dryness is when there no tackiness/stickiness whatsoever. 3-4 total coats have the best wear, so I put on 2-3 coats of polish, depending on the formula, and 1 coat of topcoat. This will take a good 40 minutes just to paint if you wait for all the layers to dry in between. Then you DON’T DO ANYTHING for 2-3 hours. Toward the end of that, you can do minor things like make tea or go to the bathroom, but really, the less you touch stuff the better.

    Now your polish will be totally resistant to pressure damage, but not to heat. I don’t consider my nails heat resistant until the next day (this includes hot water). But starting from the next day, if you’ve taken the above care and the polish layer is fully bonded and intact, your nails will be impervious to everything. I take no care with them whatsoever. I cook and clean all day long, and I use my nails as tools all the time (they are very long). 4-5 days later if I’m bored or feeling particular I might give the very tips a wee touch up, because there might be a sliver that’s worn off, but it’s so minor it doesn’t compromise the elegance of your manicure.

    And, I now only buy Zoya nail polishes which have an incredible colour range, consistent formula, and cause minimal damage to my nails.

    • Phedre,

      I never thought about the heat part, but I was always very careful about the time and the drying. I remember using the bathroom,washing my hands really well and curbing my water intake before I would polish (I didn’t want zippers to mess of the polish). I would let every coat dry thoroughly and then do nothing for the next 2-3 hours and then it would still chip very soon afterward. It was such a time commitment for no enjoyment. I will have to try the different polishes recommended here and see if I can get even more than 2 days out of it. I know next to nothing about good polishes since I gave up and still use the grocery store brands I bought years ago that I use on my toes (which polish very nicely) It’s time to buy new stuff. Do you use a base coat as well?

      • I came across Zoya looking for as non-toxic a polish as possible (that still worked. There are water based ones that are quite natural but don’t stay at all). I consistently get 4-8 days of wear out of it. Some colours wear better than others.

        I don’t use a base coat except under polishes that have a lot of glitter because otherwise they wreck my nails and are a terrible hassle to remove.

        To buy polish online I recommend finding a site you like in terms of policies, shipping, etc, pick the polishes that appeal and then do a google images search on that colour. This will generally give you an idea of how it looks on different skins, in different lights, on different nails shapes.

  2. I use Vinylux polish by CND – long wearing and an overall amazing product. Have had a French manicure since Thursday and today is Saturday evening – not a single chip and I’ve been through two airports and doing dishes and laundry. Wears like iron.

  3. I’ve been doing biotin for a while with a lot of bone broth & my hair & nails are thick & strong now, but they still flake after using nail polish. They peel in layers. I’ll try the GNC biotin & maybe that’ll help.

    Witch hazel is good for the face & puffiness & is a main ingredient in hemorrhoid wipes to reduce swelling. I remember using witch hazel on my face as a kid, but then forgot all about it.

  4. ugh my nails are paper thin and soft and whenever i paint them it flakes of fin minutes :( nail polish is SO pretty now too!!! at least i can paint my toenails

  5. Great info. I went the full-chemical route (got some Hard as Nails by Sally Hansen) and top-coat/fast-dry stuff and it improved things substantially. I will add what you’ve put down here and maybe give myself another manicure soon. :)

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