I have a special skill: Any time I leave the house—or salon, for that matter—with freshly painted finger nails it takes just a couple of minutes, or one particularly stubborn Diet Coke can, for the polish to chip. (For some reason the varnish on my toes could withstand a nuclear war, but that’s a different story.) I was warned by a draconian lecturer in college that some employers will not hire women who have chipped nail polish because they believe it signals a deeper lack of self-respect and attention to detail, and (regardless of the fact this practice is probably illegal?) I literally hear her voice in my head every time I gaze despairingly at a flaking piece of red polish.
In the interest of finally achieving a DIY manicure that can actually hold its own when I’m washing dishes, I reached out to top celebrity manicurists to find out which brands and products are the toughest. In addition to some stellar polish recommendation, they also passed along some tips, including, “Properly prep the nail by using a cuticle remover, like Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover, and making sure all the skin is off the nail plate before polishing” and the suggestion that I make sure the “pH levels of my nails are balanced” before I paint by using a cleanser like Dermelect Immaculate Nail Cleanse Prep first. So keep that advice in mind while you click through the slideshow and shop seven thoroughly vetted nail varnishes that definitely won’t chip.
OPI Infinite Shine
"My favorite long-lasting polish that I see the best results from is the OPI Infinite Shine system. I don’t really get to paint my nails very often (depressing) because I usually am on shoots almost every day. If for some odd reason I don’t have work for a week or it’s vacation time I’m definitely painting my nails, and I’m pretty loyal to Infinite Shine. Beyond my mani lasting for a good week, the colors also have AMAZING opacity. Usually I’ve found that polishes that are creme or thick tend to chip faster, which is a bummer! OPI Infinite Shine Nail Lacquer is a three-step system that ensures shine with a base coat that prevents staining with real sticking power, shades featuring high-impact pigments that keep color rich, and a high-gloss top coat that’s super shiny. I mostly stick to natural or pink shades, my all time fave is Half Past Nude—it’s a great neutral color!"—Alicia Torello
Alicia Torello's work has been featured in glossy mags like Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and W, and has been photographed by industry legends like Mario Testino, Mario Sorrenti, and Terry Richardson.
Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour
"Chanel reformulated its entire line of Le Vernis—Big Deal!—and it is now called Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour. Not only does it wear impeccably for a full seven to nine days, but it's also the first long-wear nail polish that actually cares for your nails. Bioceramics and ceramides are a few of the new ingredients in the line that help improve the overall condition of the nails. The line is also five free."—Gina Viviano
Gina Viviano works privately with celebrities as well as with publications such as Q, Vogue, Glamour, and Harper's Bazaar. You've seen her nail work in ad campaigns for Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, and Valentino, and she is currently Chanel's in-house expert manicurist.
Chanel Le Gel Top Coat
"The presence of an oligomer activated by natural light in the new Le Gel Top Coat works together with Le Vernis Colour, ensuring shine and long-lasting effect."—Gina Viviano
Smith and Cult
"I had the pleasure of consulting in the product development of Smith & Cult for an extensive period of time. I’m very familiar with how diligent the company is about perfecting the formula, color balance, and quality of the product—and it’s paid off! I love Smith & Cult because I am confident that I can guarantee my clients a long-lasting wear and high-end nail experience. Smith & Cult's eight-free formula is also formulated without dibutyl, phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor."—Eda Midori, Lady Fancy Nails
Smith and Cult
Dermelect Memento Manicure Extender Top Coat
“After painting two coats of your favorite polish, the final and most important step to creating a long-lasting, no-chip manicure is to finish with a high-quality top coat. The be-all, end-all product for me, which I use on all my celebrity clients, is Dermelect Memento Manicure Extender Top Coat. This gel-like top coat will make any nail polish last longer—both in chipping and keeping the polish shiny. It offers the ultimate shine and is fast-drying, which is key for my clients who are always on the go, jumping between interviews, shoots, etc. It can be used over any polish brand for the same amazing results.”—Elle
Elle (yep, she just goes by her first name!) has worked with clients like Jennifer Lopez, Charlize Theron, Blake Lively and Hilary Swank. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, W, Allure, and Vanity Fair.
"I love Cirque Colors because of how distinct the color hues are. All Cirque Colors products are hand-mixed in small batches and use unique pigments and raw materials, meaning you can’t find them anywhere else! I love working with them on creating specific polishes for collaborations because it allows for creative freedom (i.e., Lady Fancy Nails for Cirque Color: Chromat NYFW). Cirque nail lacquer is three-free, which means it does not contain toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP)."—Eda Midori, Lady Fancy Nails