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How to Do Everyday Things and Not Ruin Your Nails

Sure, we know the details of how to make a manicure dry faster or last longer—that's easy with experience. But if we're going to be doing chores around the house – as one does – how does our manicure survive? We asked the experts.


First, schedule all your chores around your manicure

“If I know I’m doing my mani on Monday I will do everything I can on Sunday, including the heavy chores like scrubbing my bathroom, mopping, laundry, windows, and mirrors—even giving my doggie a bath!” says celebrity manicurist Erica Marton. “Chemicals in cleaning products break down the molecules of the nail polish. It might not completely take off the polish but will break it down, which will lead to chips,” she says. “Being organized really takes the headache out of it all, then I can sit and be pretty in my clean home.”


Never use your nails as tools

“The biggest piece of advice I can offer to those who want longevity from their manicures is: Never use your nails as tools. I know it is so tempting, but we have to retrain ourselves,” says Ashley Gregory, Chicago-based celebrity manicurist. That means no scratching off price tags, picking off wax, or using nails in place of tweezers. Here’s how to keep your hands healthy and hydrated all year long.


Wash dishes with gloves

Women in the 1950s knew doing dishes killed your manicure. Nowadays, we have dishwashers but we all still scrub a big pan now and then without putting on gloves. That’s a mistake. “Always wear gloves. It takes about the same amount of time for the hot water to effect your manicure as it does for you to wash a pan. Hot water (or any water for this matter) can change the molecules of the polish almost making it melt,” says Marton. Don’t miss these subtle signs your hands are begging for some TLC.


Be careful around dryers

“Any heat or hot air will affect your manicure, just like hot water it can change the molecules in the varnish and almost melt it,” Marton says. “This leads to lifting of polish then cracks and chips. Heat from your blow dryer, hand dryers, and hot clothes from the dryer all have a negative effect. Hands always cold? Try these tricks to keep them warm.


Steer clear of alcohol-based products

Avoid making contact with products containing alcohol, because its harmful to the top coat and fades the color of polish. “It won’t take off the polish, but it will break it down and make you more susceptible to chips,” says Marton. This means, avoid rubbing hand sanitizer on your nail beds! These are ways you didn’t realize you’re washing your hands wrong.


Don’t open boxes

It’s tempting to rip open that package from your latest online shopping spree, but use a box cutter instead. “Resist the urge to jam your thumb nail into the tape and use a tool designed for box opening,” says Gregory.


Clean smartly

When cleaning the bathroom or kitchen, wear gloves. “Household cleaning products are not friendly to nail lacquer, and can lead to chipping, discoloration, and peeling when exposed to common cleansers,” says Gregory. Try this nifty trick the next time you need to get the smell of garlic off your hands.


Open soda cans safely

Save your nails and use a spoon. “The curved end of the spoon will provide leverage to lift the tab without lifting your polish,” says Gregory.



Aly Walansky
Aly Walansky is a lifestyles writer with over a decade of experience covering beauty, health, and travel for various esteemed publications. Her blog, A Little Alytude ( was launched in 2006 and continues to be a strong voice in the lifestyles arena. Based in the ever-trendy Park Slope area of Brooklyn, she divides her time between her shih tsu Lily, her soap opera addiction, and scouting out fun new martini bars.