My Favorite Manicure – That Lasts

Hello again, Beautiful! Let’s talk nails today. I’m here to give you a step by step guide to my gel-like manicure that will last 7 solid day (or more), my go-to favorite products, and some tips I’ve learned along the way. This process normally takes me about an hour (including drying time).

I start with clean, dry nails. My first steps are:

  • Clip – I like to keep my nails on the shorter side, so I will clip them about every two weeks or more. I love a clipper that is straight across, like this.
  • File to shape – I file my nails to a square, or “squoval”, shape. I have used and loved this nail file for years, it has just the right amount of grit for my nails.
  • Buff – I use this buffer to give a quick buff to the surface. This removes the tops of rough ridges and also helps to remove surface oils. This step is like extra credit for making your manicure last. It’s definitely not required (especially if you have weak or brittle nails – you can use a ridge filler, like this) but it definitely helps.
  • Cuticle care – Next I use this cuticle remover gel on my cuticles to help remove any dead skin. I apply it to my cuticles and then use a cuticle pusher, like this, to gently push back my cuticles and removed any traces that might be adhered to my nail bed. I do have a pair of cuticle nippers that I use to very gently clip any hang nails or things like that, but I do NOT clip my cuticles off with them. Cuticles serve a purpose and as long as I keep them clean and maintained I don’t find them to be unsightly.
  • Exfoliate – Once I’ve got my cuticles cared for I go to the sink and do a hand scrub to soften and exfoliate my hands. I love this scrub but I have also made a quick scrub with a teaspoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of sugar, and a small pump of hand soap. I rub it around and make sure to get all of my knuckles and any other rough areas that need some love for at least a minute or two. Once rinsed I dry my hands thoroughly and use the towel that I’m drying with to give my cuticles an extra gentle push back.

Now we are ready to paint!

  1. First I wipe a cotton pad soaked with rubbing alcohol over each of my nail beds to help dry any remaining water and completely clean them. I find that this is another thing that really helps my nail polish to last longer.
  2. Next up, a quick thin layer of base coat. I really love CNDC’s Stickey base coat, I have also used this for years and it works really well. I love that it prevents dark colors from staining my nails, is super thin, and it really does anchor my polish on.
  3. For my polish this time I am using OPI Lincoln Park After Dark. I typically will do one stripe of polish down the middle of my nail bed and then a stripe to each side. I am not typically concerned if the polish is streaky or thin on this first layer, the second layer will even it out. I also try to keep just a tiny space from my cuticles, but I can’t lie, I normally get some on my cuticles. I don’t worry about it though because it will come off in the shower.
  4. Next I do a layer of ACI’s Gelous. You may have heard of this product before, it is one of the two key products that make this manicure last. It does tend to be on the thicker side, especially the longer you have it, so I try to apply it as thin as I can to avoid it looking gloppy or bubbling. I let this dry for just a few minutes then do my second layer of polish.
  5. Last, to seal it up, I use CNDC’s Vinylux Weekly top coat. This is the second key product to making your manicure last. I apply a thin layer on each nail and then chill for about 30 minutes to give my nails a chance to dry. It probably takes closer to an hour for them to really “set” because of all of the layers but after 30 minutes I find that I can (carefully) go on about my way.



When the nail are fully set I apply a cuticle gel, like this one, and whenever they are looking dry. Keeping the cuticle moisturized really helps to prevent me from picking at them and keeps them looking good. In the dryer months, I keep it in my nightstand and apply it most nights. I love Eucerin’s Advanced Repair lotion and Soap and Glory’s Hand Food for keeping my hands soft and moisturized day to day.


I love OPI and Essie polishes, and the color I choose tends to change with the seasons. Lately I’ve been loving very pale opaque pinks and very dark shades. I tend to love one end of the spectrum or the other! What are your favorite nail colors or brands?

I would LOVE to see and hear what you think of this manicure routine! Share a comment if it worked for you and if there are any tips you’d love to share!

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Manicure – That Lasts

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