Dipping your fingers into a bowl of water while getting a manicure is the most conventional way—but water-free versions are becoming more and more popular. This sans-soak service is thought to have less drying effects on the skin and allows nails to retain polish longer. Why? The nail plate is porous and takes hours to dry fully post-dip so you end up filing a wet nail, which "is much more delicate and fragile, and thus much more suceptible to micro-tears which leads to splitting and peeling and nails," says Julie Kandelec, celebrity manicurist and creative director of Paintbox nail studio in N.Y.C. And as for your compromised polish job? "If you're applying polish when nails are still damp, it can chip more easily when the nail full dries hours later back to its original, contracted state," says Kandelec. Consider this another reason to don gloves when washing the dishes also.
Save some H2O by asking your manicurist to skip the soak or if you're doing a DIY mani, apply a cuticle remover to eliminate any debris on the nail plate (we love Deborah Lippmann's version, $20; deborahlippmann.com) or go for a full kit like Butter London's Waterless Mani set ($29; butterlondon.com). Kandelec also suggests cleaning up the cuticle area with a disposable mascara wand dipped in polish remover. "It exfoliates the nail bed and there is also no need to cut your cuticles," says Kandelec.