(This post originally appeared on Four Front Doors.)
I've used many brands of polish, in many price ranges. My favorites are OPI, Essie, and Deborah Lippmann, but I've also found some drugstore brands I like, such as L'Oreal and Milani. Most will work as long as you follow these tips.
Store polish in a cool dark place, and just go through your stash and toss out any old and goopy polishes. Don't try to save them with polish remover. Just say goodbye and move on.
I'm not a professional by any means, but these are my personal tips that have worked for me.
1. After removing polish, file nails in one direction only. Do not file across, as this can give a rough edge to nail tips.
2. Do NOT soak your nails right before or after a manicure. You don't want added water here.
3. (This is my #1 tip:) Buff nails GENTLY and lightly to remove ridges and give a smooth surface. Don't do it too much or you could thin the nail. This step has made a HUGE difference in the staying power of my polish.
4. Wipe nails with acetone polish remover to prevent residue like water, lotion, or natural oils and to remove any particles left from filing and buffing.
5. Start with a sticky base coat.
6. Use thin coats of polish, and let it dry between coats.
7. Be sure to cover the free edge of the nail with polish to "seal" the manicure.
8. Give nails plenty of time to "cure," even if they seem dry.
9. Use a top coat, and try to do it every day.
10. Use cuticle oil.
This might look like a lot of steps, but once you do it a few times, it really doesn't take long at all. The best part is that your manicure can last much longer with very little chipping in between, so it's worth it. Hope this helps your manicure look pretty longer!