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During sandal season, it’s more important than ever to preserve a perfect pedicure, but the elements are stacked against us. While spending time at the salon can be indulgent, no one wants to have to run back every week for a touch-up. We spoke to the experts on how to make your favorite summer shades last as long as possible.


The first step to polish perfection is to cleanse your nails before application. Use a cotton ball and polish remover to eliminate the excess dirt and natural oils. “Oil and polish do not mix. Polish will never last if the nail isn’t totally stripped of it,” advises New York City Nail Artist, Darica Romain.


While we know the base coat protects the nail from stains, New York City Nail Pro Geraldine Holford adds, “It also strengthens the nail to ensure every little nick or ridge is smoothed out.” She says, “Orly Bonder ($10; ulta.com) is one of my favorites since the rubberized quality makes the polish and base completely stick together.”


Despite your better instincts, two thin coats are all you need! “Anything more is a sure-fire way to cause peeling on your second day mani,” explains Holford. Increase your polish’s longevity further by capping off each nail’s edge. A quick trick is to, “Tap a little polish at the free edge before you paint the full nail,” Holford says. If you’re looking for non-toxic brands with durability, Holford recommends brands like Priti NYC ($15; pritinyc.com) and RMS ($15; rmsbeauty.com).


The top coat is every nail artist’s secret weapon for long wear and shine. “Apply a fresh top coat every other day to continue keeping that barrier and color encased,” suggests Romain. Don’t forget to capitalize on the new gel lab formulas, which actually continue to cure daily in the sunlight. Safe bets are Essie’s Gel Setter ($10; target.com) and Dior’s Gel Lab ($27; nordstrom.com).

VIDEO: How To Master The Brushing Up Manicure


While every step of your mani/pedi matters, it’s critical to fine-tune your finish. Always use cool air to dry your nails and give yourself 15-30 minutes for the polish to fully set. If you’re really in a pinch, “Put your hands in ice water. Not only does it set the polish to last longer, but it also cuts down on drying time,” says Romain.


Polish chips. It happens. Looking for a reboot? One option is to use a bit of pure acetone along the chip’s edge. Holford offers this hint: “Tap polish thinly on that spot until the color matches the rest of the nail.” After the polish dries, gloss top coat thinly over the whole nail. Romain points out, “When the nail is actually dry, you can also try buffing the chipped area to level it out.”


While it's great to welcome the surf, sun and our favorite freebie exfoliator, it also wreaks havoc on polish. Slipping into water shoes at the beach like Seastar ($90; seastarbeachwear.com) is a lifesaver for this triple threat. Also, try soaking in the rays while utilizing the UV protection in Seche Vite’s Ultra V Top Coat ($9; sallybeauty.com) or INM’s Out the Door Top Coat ($5; walgreens.com). Although water exposure is never ideal, don’t worry about temperature since, “It doesn’t affect nails once they are set,” according to Romain. Your final summer tip? Sun tan lotions are essential, but they can affect your polish’s pigment. So opt for the spray formulas like Sun Bum Original Spray Sunscreen ($16; target.com) or Elta MD UV Aero Broad Spectrum Sunscreen ($31 ; dermstore.com).