How To Stretch Out The Life Of Your Mani-Pedi This Summer (We Promise It's So Easy)

For many people, regular manicures and pedicures are essential part of a summer beauty and self-care routine. And it totally makes sense. Along with helping you feel more confident in sandals or flip flops, having your nails shaped and painted can instantly make you look put-together.

Anything that helps you feel better about being exactly who you are, including spa and salon sessions, is worth your while. However, caring for your nails can be costly, with the average starting price for a basic manicure hovering around $15, with gel polish costing an additional $10 to $15, depending on where you live. Pedicures are even more expensive, with the basic cost coming to about $35 for a basic service, and as much as $60, or $70 dollars for a spa service. For those who get their nails done regularly, that works out to hundreds of dollars spent on nail care every year.

Still, it's completely understandable if you'd rather save as much cash as possible along the way. No one ever said manicures and pedicures were cheap, after all. Here's how you can stretch the life out of your manis and pedis this year.

Go for gel instead of regular polish

Unlike regular polish, which is made with a simple lacquer that can smudge and chip within the first week, gel polish uses stronger chemicals that can last for up to twice as long against normal wear and tear. "Gel polish applications cure under a lamp, creating a hardened layer of polish that makes it more durable and longer-lasting," explained celebrity nail artist Yoko Sakakura to Teen Vogue. 

Plus, the drying process is faster. When you apply regular nail polish, you have to wait up to 20 minutes for it to fully dry to avoid smudges and smears. Gel polish, however, dries instantly with the help of UV lights.  As soon as the gel on your fingertips dries up under a UV light, you're free to move on with the rest of your day. In some cases, you won't need to visit a nail salon for a month to six weeks if gel polish is what you're working with.

Make sure your nail tech is applying base coat and top coat

The perfect gel or polish becomes a total non-factor without the necessary steps being taken. Nail concealer and other manicure extras can extend the life of your gel manicure. A base coat should be added to your bare nail beds after they've been cleaned, cut, exfoliated, and buffered. 

Base coats are thick, sticky, and helpful in helping polish colors adhere to your nails. Top coats, meanwhile, are designed to improve the durability of the polish itself. Your nail technician may apply a glossy top coat or matte top coat depending on your preferences. Note that some places may not include this if you are simply getting a polish change, so make sure you read the salon menu to verify what is included.

Avoid chlorine with fresh manicures and pedicures if possible

The summer season is the best time to take dips in the pool as you cool off under the beating sun. Still, you need to be wary of how much time you're spending submerged in pools filled with chlorine if you care about the longevity of your manicure and pedicure. It might sound dramatic to hear that chlorine is wreaking havoc on the beauty of your nails, but this simply isn't an exaggeration. 

The chlorine you'll find inside a pool isn't helping you at all if you're hoping to avoid polish chipping. Nails naturally absorb water, which means whatever polish you're wearing will eventually start to lift up and wear off. Applying a base coat and top coat will slightly help you avoid this issue, but chlorine is still a powerful force. Of course, you don't have to sacrifice every single pool day or dip in the water when your friends are socializing. If your manis and pedis are a priority, simply pick and choose the moments that matter most for the sake of your nails.

Limit open-toed shoes

It's crucial to keep things balanced with close-toed and open-toed shoes when protecting your pedicures specifically. Close-toed shoes keep your toes from too much over-exposure, which is very important. When your polish is exposed to too much sun, the color undoubtedly begins to fade. This means that if you started off with a hot pink pedicure, there's a chance the color with fade into a more dull shade of pink after enough days have passed by. 

If you started off with a neon green pedicure, the exaggerated color might not keep its true luster. Open-toed shoes are also helpful for the simple fact that they're breathable. Your toenails should never be stuffed into close-toed shoes that are way too tight for prolonged periods of time. If you do that, there's a risk that the edges of the polish color will chip off and fall away. Plus, wearing open-toed shoes means everyone will be able to admire the loveliness of your pedicure wherever you go. A good rule of thumb is that you should stick to close-toed shoes in settings where they make sense like at work or at the gym. Open-toed shoes are perfectly fine to wear if you're going to be spending the day lounging by the pool or hitting the beach with friends.

Use gloves when washing dishes

Gloves will be your saving grace if you're trying to protect a fresh manicure. Handling your household chores shouldn't have to be put on pause, just because you've invested in a nail appointment. Still, if you don't want your manicure to go to waste faster than it should, gloves are exactly what you need to avoid that problem. When you're washing dishes without gloves on, your nails are exposed to food residue, grease, oils, sticky substances, dish soap, hot water, and bacteria. 

It's not surprising that such an intense mixture would have a serious impact on your manicure. The good news is that gloves come in handy without creating much of a hassle in your life. Kitchen gloves are easy to find at most grocery stores and they take just a few seconds to slip on. Another added benefit of wearing gloves while doing the dishes is that they'll protect your hands from drying out as well.

Choose French tips, nude nails, or glittery clear colors

One of the unspoken benefits of getting French tip nails is that they can grow out for a while without anyone actually noticing. Since the base of French tip nails is usually completely clear or nude-colored, it's not obvious when the French tips are a little older. At first glance, anyone who looks your way will simply think your nails are a little longer than usual if you have some growth that hasn't yet been filled in or replaced. 

Someone will really have to grab your hands and deeply analyze your nails to notice that your French tips are starting to grow out. The same rule applies with glittery clear colors as well, since you won't easily spot excessive nail growth with colors that are more transparent. Nude-colored nails will also do you justice if you don't want anyone to guess how long it's been since your last visit to a nail salon.

Keep the length on the shorter side

The best nail length is totally subjective based on your own personal preferences. However, keep in mind that if your nail length is on the shorter side, your manicure will last a lot longer. The simple reason for this is that longer nails are more liable to break off at some point. The longer your nails are, the easier it is to accidentally bang them against hard surfaces. Long nails accidentally snag on pieces of clothing or other fabrics every once in a while. 

Long nails can also make it incredibly tricky to pick up small items off flat surfaces making it easier for the tips of your nails to break off and fall away. When your nail length stays on the shorter side, the risk of break-offs dwindles. This means that if you consider yourself to be an acrylic nail girly, consider opting for lengths that are a little more natural instead of overly exaggerated.

Avoid direct contact with scented lotions and sunscreen

No one is denying the fact that lathering up with scented lotions can be one of the most pleasant things to do. It's a lovely feeling to know you smell amazing wherever you go. There are endless high-end brands that sell scented lotions in a multitude of fragrances. Sunscreen is also hugely important for anyone who spends loads of time in the sun. Sunscreen is designed to protect your skin from the harsh UV rays beating down on you. 

Something you might not know about scented lotion and sunscreen is that these products aren't exactly helpful in maintaining long-lasting manicures and pedicures. Some of the chemicals included in scented lotions and sunscreen have been known to dull nail polish colors in a significant way. An easy way to avoid this would be wiping off the surfaces of your nails with alcohol-free wipes as soon as you finish applying scented lotion or sunscreen everywhere else on your body.

Some other liquids to keep in mind include alcoholic beverages, hand sanitizers, and perfumes. Unfortunately, anything made with alcohol can be damaging to your nails if it sits on the surfaces for extended periods of time. Partying by the pool with a deliciously fruity cocktail in hand might sound like the most blissful thing to do, but it can be risky for your manicure. As long as you're making sure any droplets of your beverage are staying far away from the surfaces of your nails, you'll be just fine.

Gather at-home nail care tools

Just because you don't have access to a nail salon 24 hours every day, it doesn't mean you shouldn't have a few basic nail care tools to utilize at home. If you gather some at-home nail care tools to use on your own time, it makes it a lot easier for you to stretch out the lifespan of your manicures and pedicures. Take note of the specific items your nail technician uses at each of your salon appointments so you know which items you should keep on deck. 

Your checklist should include nail files, cuticle pushers, nail clippers, cuticle oils, miniature scissors, nail buffers, and nail brushes. When you have these items readily available on your bathroom counter or cabinet shelf, small nail issues turn into something far more manageable. You won't feel the need to race back to the nail salon for tiny fixes when you're able to stretch the beauty of your manicures and pedicures out in the comfort of your own home.

One of the benefits of gathering at-home nail care tools for yourself is that you'll have tons of items to readily utilize if you ever host a spa party with your friends. Spa parties are great bonding experiences for people who enjoy comfort, luxury, and beauty. It's fun to get together with your besties in a spa setting, so being able to pull off such a vibe at home is a win. You'll automatically be 10 steps ahead if you already have the at-home nail care tools necessary.

Invest in the spa extras

Enjoying the beauty of a long-lasting manicure and pedicure means being willing to invest during your salon appointments. Opting for the most basic manicure and pedicure packages might not yield the enduring results you want for an extended amount of time. You'll continuously look down at your hands and feet with a smile on your face for several weeks when you invest in spa "extras" while having your services done. 

This includes cuticle exfoliation, oil treatments, filing, buffing, and more. Oftentimes, a lot of these services are already included in the basic packages at most salons. If you find that the nail salon you've been visiting offers add-on services to manicures and pedicures, keep an open mind about investing in the "extras" they have listed. You'd be surprised at how helpful add-on services can be in stretching out the gorgeousness of your nails and toes.

Apply nail glue as soon as you notice a crack

If you're a fan of acrylic nails, then you already know how frustrating it is to notice a small crack on one of the surfaces. As soon as an acrylic nail starts developing a chip, strands of hair get stuck in it, water bubbles get trapped in it, and it can even start causing a slight bit of pain. The discomfort of a cracked acrylic nail is just as bothersome as the appearance of it. 

Fortunately, you won't have to drop everything to head to your nail salon if you dab a few drops of nail glue onto the crack as soon as possible. Letting a cracked nail go unchecked for way too long allows it to become way too difficult to manage on your own. Applying nail glue at the very start of it gives you a chance to avoid another nail salon visit for a bit longer.

Applying a few drops of nail glue to a brand-new crack you're noticing certainly isn't a long-term solution to your problem. It's simply a smart way to stretch your manicure or a pedicure out without taking time out of your schedule to get one individual nail fixed. Nail glue is incredibly powerful in the sense that it can hold cracks together for several days to weeks. When relying on an option like this, your other nails can grow out until you're comfortable scheduling a full fill appointment or a full fresh set appointment.

Keep a bottle of matching color on standby for chipping coverage

Although some folks don't mind sporting a few nails with chipped polish until their next appointment, for those who can't stand imperfections, having a bottle of matching color on standby can help. Depending on the brand of nail polish used by the nail tech, you may be able to find similar at your local drug store, or at least a comparable shade. 

This idea is especially helpful for anyone traveling to new places or going on vacation, as your local nail salon is obviously out of reach if you've taken a flight somewhere else.Best of all, you don't have to worry about finding travel-sized nail polish since they're already small enough to fit into miniature purses and pockets. When covering an area of chipped polish on your manicure or pedicure, be sure to paint over the problem nail with a couple fresh coats. If you only dab some corrective color over the chipped area, you risk your nail looking bumpy. Alternatively, you can completely remove the polish from the problem nail with acetone before applying two fresh coats of color.