I thought it was about time to show you all what all goes into my nail polish routine, seeing as all I ever mention is what colour I'm wearing. With this routine, my nail polish usually lasts for 7-10 days before chipping significantly (lab accidents notwithstanding - unfortunately spilling chemicals/solvents on your hands has a tendency to dissolve/lift polish). Of course, unfortunately everyone's skin and nails react differently, so what works well for me may not work as well for you, but I thought I would share nevertheless.
1. Base coat
At the moment I'm actually using two base coats. At the same time. First, I paint a layer of Tip Top Nail Booster Base Coat, to help strengthen my nails and promote healthy growth. Like all Tip Top products, I can highly recommend this. I got it in my CPT Blogger Meet goodie bag and ever since I started using it, I've noticed a definite improvement in my nails - no more flaking or peeling or breakage, woo hoo! I then top this with a layer of Revlon's Calcium Gel Nail Hardener. I've been using this for about a year (previously on its own, but on top of the Tip Top base coat this year). Long term, this product doesn't really do much to strengthen my nails but when I am wearing it, it definitely helps harden and strengthen my nails. This means that the tips (esp the corners) don't flex and bend as much, which - for me, at least - means that my polish chips significantly less.
2. Colour time!
3. Top coat
To get a super shiny finish, and to ensure longevity, top coat is essential! I also love quick-drying top coats because I often end up painting my nails before bed and, hello, no one wants to smudge on their sheets (also, laziness). At the moment I am loving Sally Hansen's InstaDri Top Coat. Shininess? Check. Quick drying? Check. Anti-chip? Check check check!
Other bits and bobs
There are two important things I added to my routine to get as neat and professional-looking a mani as possible: cuticle remover, and clean-up. To remove cuticles, I use Sally Hansen's Instant Cuticle Remover. It's the only one I've tried, so I can't compare, but it does the job well. For clean-up, I use a small paintbrush (from the art section in PNA) dipped in acetone to neaten up edges. (A process which I had not yet done in the photo at the beginning of this post - my bad! In my defense, I was in a rush to get to the excitement of the Cape Town Carnival!)
And that's about it!
And that's about it!