Things That Can Ruin A Manicure

A manicure can break down in a variety of ways, and the causes are usually avoidable. It sucks to have chipped polish or to be missing chunks two days after getting a mani, especially when it'll be at least five more days before you and your hands find themselves in front of a nail tech again. The fixes aren't always quick and easy. Plus, you can suffer from dry, ragged, peeling cuticles, which are annoying, sometimes painful, and tempting to pick. You can end up with flaked or uneven polish, or you might lose or break a nail — and then your whole set of 10 digits looks out of symmetry and sync. Who needs that noise?

Your hands also show age easily. Therefore, you have to do a decent amount of moisturizing and maintenance to keep them looking young and feeling healthy. Manis are one of the easiest ways to keep hands all kinds of pretty, but there are certain everyday activities that are murder on your manicure.

Here are several things that can ruin your manicure — be it a $10 corner salon job, a DIY design, or a more precise 'n' pro gel mani that's meant to last— along with tips on how to prevent manicure massacres.

Cheap nail polish with no top coat

It doesn't matter how ginger or careful you are with your nails after a manicure. If you use a cheap polish, with or without a top coat, your color can and will begin to chip and flake almost immediately, leaving you with a banged up mani. You don't have to spend $10 or $15 on pricey polish, though. In fact, SinfulColors is a fantastic bargain brand sold at most drugstores and mass market retailers, from Rite Aid to Target. Kylie Jenner even created several on-trend, matte collections and beyond for the brand. I have used several of the Kylie x SinfulColors polishes, and I hereby testify that they are terrific quality, long-lasting, and only cost approximately three bucks a bottle. Just be sure to use two evenly-applied coats, along with a base and top coat, and your nails will be good to go for at least a week. If you skip the top coat, you are asking for nicks and dings in your manicure.


Washing dishes

If you manually wash your dishes, the potent combo of detergent and hot water can cause your mani to break down. That's everything from your nail lacquer to your cuticles. As Glamour notes, you want to wear gloves to protect your nails and the cuticle skin. Both can become dry and brittle in any season, and you want to moisturize with lotion or oil, not tons of water and dish soap, which can further dry out your skin. So use gloves when washing, don't immerse your hands in soapy water, and be sure to towel-dry and moisturize your hands sparingly after. Just remove the excess lotion from your nails so the polish doesn't dull.


Overwashing hands

If you wash your hands a dozen times in any given afternoon, you are going to degrade your mani due to the repetition and by zapping moisture from your hands and the delicate skin surrounding your nails. Try not to overdo it with soap or harsh chemicals. Instead, use a mild cleanser if you find yourself soaping up multiple times per day.


Anti-bacterial hand sanitizers

Who doesn't love those cute little anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, aka "anti bacs," from Bath & Body Works? They smell amazing, like birthday cake or autumn leaves or sun-soaked cherries. Your hands feel clean when you use them. But as Cosmo points out, using hand santizer can break down the top coat, leading to chips. Anti bacs can also dry out skin if you use them too much, since alcohol is a key ingredient. They also cause the top coat to look dull and cuticles to become parched.


Biting your nails

Biting your nails is a gross habit on all levels. It's just not hygienic. If you are gnawing on your nails, like you haven't eaten in a week or even as a nervous nibble, you are going to do damage to both your polish and your cuticles. Nails aren't food, people! Stop trying to eat 'em.



As a digitally-minded culture, we all tap, tap, tap away on our computer keyboards and on our smartphones all day, every day. As Byrdie points out, typing with long talons will cause the nail to be traumatized and the polish to be chipped. If you are a power user of a keyboard or mobile device, keeping your nail length short is a good idea. It'll prevent the immediate destruction of your mani.


Your body lotions

While moisturizing hands is essential, you can actually dull your polish and its shine with additional product, like lotions or creams. Therefore, after applying a moisturizer, be sure to wipe any excess off with a cotton swab or square. This might seem counterintuitive, since I just told you that you need to moisturize to keep your hands and mani in tip-top shape. But you should also take care to use measured doses and apply carefully.