Tough Manicure
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Whether done professionally or at home, there are few things more frustrating than dealing with chips and cracks almost immediately after a manicure. Tired of watching our handiwork literally fall to pieces, we sought advice from none other than nail expert Deborah Lippmann. From prepping the right way to hydrating your cuticles, the pro shares her secrets to a long-lasting manicure.

Start with a Clean Slate
For your new polish to properly adhere, it’s important to remove all traces of dirt, oil, and old enamel from the nailbed. If you’re searching for a fast, effortless way to cleanse your digits, look no further than Lippmann’s The Stripper to Go Nail Lacquer Remover Finger Mitts ($12; “Place your index finger inside the mitt and press down on each nail of the opposite hand. Count to five, move the mitt from side to side and pull forward,” the pro says.

Shape and File
This should always be your second step, says Lippmann. Her advice? “Shape your nail so it mirrors your cuticle and elongates your fingers,” she tells InStyle. Also, remember to use gentle motions when filing (file in one direction at a time instead of back and forth) to prevent breakage.

To pave the way for a long-lasting paintjob, consider investing in a multi-purpose buffing tool. We recommend the pro’s Smooth Operator Nail Buffer ($12;, which features four unique fabrics to shape, smooth, buff, and shine.

Care for Your Cuticles
One of the most important things you can do to prep for a manicure, Lippmann says, is hydrate your nails and cuticles. Start by removing dead skin cells with a cuticle remover (try Butter London’s Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator, $19; and gently push back the cuticles from corner to corner. Drop a nourishing cuticle oil on the base of each nail to finish the treatment (we love Ciate’s marula oil version, $19;

Apply a Base Coat
Aside from providing a smooth canvas and preventing stains, base coats allow your polish to grasp onto the nail. We’re fans of Lippmann’s All About That Base CC Base Coat ($20; One layer strengthens the nails while hiding ridges and other pesky imperfections.

Polish Lightly
When you’re ready to swipe on your chosen color, be sure to apply thin, even layers. “Place the brush 1/8 of an inch away from the cuticle, pulling straight down the center to the tip. Repeat on the left and right of the nail and cap the nails with a swipe across the tip,” advises Lippmann. Allow at least two minutes of drying time before adding a second coat.

Don’t Forget the Top Coat
Once your nails are dry, seal the deal with your favorite top coat. This will create a shiny finish and defend against chipping in the days that follow. Swipe on an additional coat a day or two after your manicure for extra protection.

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