Is That Dip in the Pool Ruining Your Manicure?

Victoria Moorhouse
Nail Polish Chipping


It’s funny that in the time of year you’re showing off your hands and feet the most—free of heavy wool socks and tech gloves (a girl’s gotta text)—keeping nail polish on and intact seems like such a problem. Running around in sandals all the time isn’t the only thing that’ll inspire a DIY pedicure. And in terms of manicures and the summer heat, smudges or lacquer that strangely NEVER seems to dry is more common than not. Humid conditions seem to put a slow-motion setting on all that.

But one thing that is especially annoying with nail polish in the summer is the fact that it ALWAYS seems to come off when you get into the water. If running your hands under cold water sets nail polish in place (it’s a cool trick, you should try it), why does jumping in a pool seem to make your tips chip?

Is it the water? The chlorine?

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For starters, the water isn’t helping. Prolonged exposure to water will cause your manicure to chip. You might get more days and dives out of a long-wearing nail polish, but in time even that will chip. Why is that? Your nails absorb water—just like your hair–causing your nail polish to lift up and wear away overtime. It’s kind of similar to the reason you’re told to wear a base coat, to give your polish something else to adhere to in case of any moisture or oils. You wouldn’t go ahead and paint polish on water droplets, would you?

Glitter nail polish has more consistency to it and is even difficult to remove with acetone, so it’ll be your best bet if you plan on scuba diving or less dramatically, lounging by the pool for days on end. A more expensive option, and a little tougher on your nails itself, are gels, which can withstand elements better than regular polish.

Don’t put all the blame on the water, though. If you’re lathering up the SPF before heading out in the sun (as you definitely should!), that could be contributing to a weathered manicure. According to SELF, some chemicals in sunscreen may cause your polish to come off.

Still itching to find out about the chlorine? That seems like a likely cause because of how it can dry up your skin and warp the color of your hair. It has mixed personal beliefs, however; according to Nails Magazine nail polish repels water and keeping chlorine from breaking things down.

Anything with a textured nature though–i.e. the side of the pool or the grainy sand—can take off your polish like sandpaper. When you buff your nails with an abrasive emery board that happens, right?

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The solution? Always apply a base coat, stick to two coats of polish (waiting ample time before applying each coat) and go for a top-notch top coat. If you really want to be prepped for emergencies, keep your polish in your handbag for last minute touch-ups.