Nail polish works best when it has something to adhere to. "A high-quality top and base coat will significantly increase the length of time that your manicure lasts," manicurist Deborah Lippmann says. Start your manicure with a thin base coat and allow it to dry completely before adding color.
When it comes to the actual polish, less it more. "The tendency is to try to make it look like the shade in the bottle on the first coat," Lippmann says. "You want to apply two thin coats and build the color." If you're in a hurry, some darker shades can get by with just one thin layer.
Product Pick: Essie Nail Color, Wicked ($8.50)
To last longer, your polish needs time to dry completely between each coat -- including base and top coats. Drying time should be about two minutes per coat if you're using thin layers.
Your painting technique plays a huge role in how long your mani lasts. When painting each layer of polish, make sure to coat the nail from base to tip. Then, use the brush to go around the outer edge of your nail to seal in the polish.
Finally, finish off with a thin top coat. To keep polish looking its best, reapply another layer of top coat every three days. A good top coat is key, so make sure to look for one with staying power -- not polishes that are meant to speed up painting.
Product Pick: Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Set Base and Top Coat ($45)