Hands down, this is your best stay-put polish strategy yet.
After a long—and brutal—winter, you’ve earned the right to take a major vacay this summer. But the last thing you want to worry about while kicking back and sipping a strawberry daiquiri is a manicure and pedicure that’ll flake faster than you can say “bon voyage!” Find out which culprits could wreck your polish during a getaway—plus the foolproof solutions that’ll keep your color intact.
If you want to keep your shade on lockdown during a trip, be extra cautious when packing outfits with zippers, as they can catch an edge of your manicure and chip or dent it. Try wrapping a rubber band around a zipper so that your nails don’t have to come in contact with the zipper directly, says Amy Ruiz, a Los Angeles-based manicurist who has worked on Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Recycled airplane air can cause dryness around your nails (leading to polish flaking more quickly) even before you touch down for some R&R. Ruiz suggests stashing a TSA-friendly hydrator like Rodan + Fields Redefine Age Shield Hand Balm ($43, rodanandfields.com) or anything with coconut oil, avocado oil, or almond oil in your carry-on for frequent application.
Sand may just be your pedicure’s worst enemy on vacation, but by using SPF (yep, the same one you use on your face and body) to coat your nails and seal in the color, you can keep the grains from scratching your look. “It acts as a buffer, hydrating the nails and keeping the topcoat pliable,” says Ruiz, who prefers a lotion or oil sunscreen formula over sprays. “I find sprays contain more than one kind of alcohol that maybe drying to the skin or polish if sprayed in the sunlight.” Try CeraVe Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Face Lotion ($15, ulta.com).
Wading in water for a long period of time can cause your manicure and pedicure to dry out because of the moisture-wicking chlorine. But a quick touchup once you get out can save fading color. “Once you’re done swimming, put a top coat over the polish,” says Ruiz. Try CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat ($11, ulta.com), which becomes more durable with exposure to natural light and dries quickly.
Just like sun exposure can be detrimental to your skin, it can also do major damage to you nail polish. And that’s especially true for lighter shades. “With light pastels or opaque colors, they can oxidize [in the sun], so it’s good to use a non-yellowing topcoat like Essie Good to Go! Fastest Drying Top Coat ($10, ulta.com),” says Ruiz.
If you’re planning on giving your followers some major FOMO via Instagram and Facebook, opt for a manicure with slightly rounded corners to prevent chipping while tapping away at your smartphone. And seal the edges with the color and the topcoat, says Ruiz. “You can always reapply the color or the top coat if the polish is beginning to wear while typing too much,” she says.
Of course, it helps to choose a manicure texture meant to go the distance, like a gel, before headed off for a holiday. “I like the CND Shellac because it’s ideal for travel since you get 10 days to two weeks of non-chipping,” says Ruiz, who recommends it for her clients if they’re going somewhere they can’t refresh their manicure.