Mastering the art of the at-home manicure has never been more important than now, in the age of social distancing. Instead of making the trip to the nail salon during a pandemic, why not opt to pamper yourself at home? To get that salon-grade look, you’ll need to build up your nail polish arsenal with long-lasting options that will remain sealed and unchipped for days. Not only will this result in a professional-looking manicure, but it will also save you money and time. Because, let’s be honest, the less time you have to spend fussing over your nails, the better.
There are a few different factors that contribute to a long-lasting manicure. Before you even reach for the polish, you’ll want to start by gently pushing your cuticles back with a cuticle pusher. Keeping your cuticles out of the way is important because if the polish attaches to the skin around your nails, it can lift, separate, and crack. Next, use a trusty base coat — like this affordable, quick-dry option from Revlon — to ensure the polish has an even surface to stick to. Then the nail polish comes into play. Choosing a rich, thick, gel-like formula that doesn’t bubble will lead to a manicure that’s less likely to break or chip. And the less coats of polish you need, the longer it will last.
Last, add a top coat to protect the polish and lock it into place — but don’t put the top coat away when you’re done using it. All that hand washing and sanitizing we’re doing religiously lately can cause signs of wear to show on your nails quicker than usual. To counteract this and keep your mani looking fresh, try adding a new layer of clear top coat every couple of days (or as soon as you notice the shine dulling).
Along with these tips, lotion your hands and use a moisturizing cuticle oil regularly, and you should be able to rock your DIY manicure for up to two weeks. To help you round out your at-home polish collection, we highlighted some of the best long-lasting formulas on the market, all available to buy online at wallet-friendly prices. With options from Essie, Olive & June, CND, Sally Hansen, and more top nail brands, here are 10 long-lasting nail polishes for that “I just left the salon” look — without actually going anywhere.
Essie Gel Couture
Essie’s Gel Couture line goes on like a gel manicure with a thick, pigmented finish, but doesn’t require any UV lights and dries fast, according to reviewers. This formula can also be removed just as easily as the non-gel formula — no foils or soaking required. For best results, follow up with Essie’s Gel Couture Top Coat to protect the nails — when used together, Essie’s two-step system can last up to two weeks with no chips or cracks. Choose from one of 11 shades in the peach-nude family, here, or check out the many other color options this polish is offered in.
Shop now: $10 (Originally $12); amazon.com
This longwear nail polish is enriched with good-for-you ingredients like jojoba oil, vitamin E, and keratin, so they moisturize and treat your nails while adding bold, rich color. Customers say this polish lives up to its long-lasting claims and stays on up for up to two weeks, and works best when paired with CND’s longwear top coat from the same line. But perhaps the most exciting part about this polish is the unique shape of the curve-hugging brush, which allows for a simple and neat application. With a neat application, the polish is less likely to crack or chip, so the brush makes all the difference.
Shop now: $11; amazon.com
Olive & June 7-Free Polish
If you’re a fan of neutral, understated tones, you’re going to love this budget-friendly polish from Olive & June. The formula is incredibly thick and protective, and with three thin coats of color and a clear top coat, you can rock this streak-free, gel-like manicure for about 10 days before any signs of wear. What’s more, all Olive & June polishes are vegan, cruelty-free, and contain no harsh chemicals or toxins — so it’s a polish you can feel good about using it.
Shop now: $8; oliveandjune.com
Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro
Not only will this formula give you that salon-worthy manicure you’re after — with lots of shine and evenly distributed color — but it will also improve the health of your nails while you wear it. Infused with oils and botanical extracts that nourish and strengthen, this polish won’t jeopardize your nails, so you won’t have trouble wearing them bare after. Choose from 11 bold shades, including a mix of bright and neutral hues.
Shop now: $20; nordstrom.com
Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer
This long-lasting polish serves a high-end manicure that will look and feel exactly like gel. It comes with a precision brush so easy to use, even the most inexperienced DIY manicurists will be able to create an immaculate application. The formula is so shiny, you don’t even need a top coat, but you can add one to protect the polish and get as many chip-free days out of it as possible.
Shop now: $28; nordstrom.com
Ella + Mila Nail Polish
This popular polish line offers a creamy application and rich color, requiring less coats to get thick, even coverage than many other polishes. Less is more when you want to avoid chips and get a full 10 days out of your manicure. The vegan formula is also made cruelty-free and contains no harsh chemicals. This beautiful nude shade is a great everyday color that “goes with everything,” according to shoppers, but it's also available in a slew of other shades.
Shop now: $12; amazon.com
Sally Hansen Salon Manicure
A trusted drugstore beauty brand for years, Sally Hansen delivers on quality without sacrificing its low price point — and this long-lasting polish lives up to the legacy. The smooth and lustrous formula is enriched with keratin to help your nails get stronger, and the fast-drying polish can last up to 10 days even without a separate top coat. What’s more, there are over 85 colors to choose from — each costing just $6 — so if you fall in love with the formula, you can build an epic collection without spending a lot.
Shop now: $6; amazon.com
ILNP Juliette Holographic Nail Polish
If you thought that fun, sparkly manicures were only possible in a salon, we have some good news for you — this highly rated rose gold polish from ILNP makes it easy to do at home. This brand offers a wide selection of metallic, glittery, and holographic polishes that are chip-resistant, long-lasting, and still simple to remove on your own. And while these types of glittery, super pigmented polishes are often hard to remove, customers rave about the simple removal process with this one and say that all you need is one coat.
Shop now: $10; amazon.com
Nails Inc. Gel Effect
The Gel Effect line from Nails Inc. goes on with a smooth and even application that, when combined with a trusty base coat and a top coat, will look exactly like a UV gel manicure. This formula has the same plumping effect as traditional gel, but is super easy to remove and won’t leave your nails in worse shape once the polish is removed. Customers say that you can get at least a week out of this polish — even with lots of handwashing — before seeing any chips or cracks.
Shop now: $15; sephora.com
JINsoon Nail Lacquer
This collection from nail brand JINsoon promises a chip-free manicure for two weeks. But even better is that the formula is eco-friendly and supports healthy nail growth — it’s free of any harsh chemicals and non-toxic (for both your nails and the environment). And just because it uses a non-harsh formula doesn’t mean it’s any less pigmented or long-lasting. Customers love the vibrant colors and epic shine.
Shop now: $18, revolve.com