Super low-maintenance easy nail polish hacks?
February 7, 2019 7:07 AM   Subscribe

Can I apply nail polish to just the tips of my nails? Alternately: Is there any nail care routine I can follow that takes very minimal maintenance to keep lasting?

I don't realistically have time for any of the following:
1. going to a manicurist every 2 weeks
2. applying polish that takes forever to dry, several nails of which will need to be removed and reapplied, every couple of days

I also really dislike the idea of needing to constantly remove polish to apply new polish.

My question is whether there is a nail care routine I can just maintain, that won't destroy my nails, and won't drive me nuts? Would just doing the tips mean the stuff peels off in two seconds?

For clarity about my goals here: I would like to stop biting my nails, and having the tips colored does seem to work as a disincentive. Thus for my purposes:

1. anything that looks decent and involves the tips is sufficient, hence my "brilliant" (????) idea of JUST doing the tips.
2. Anything too maintenance heavy I'm gonna end up dropping and going back to nail-biting.

Assume in answering this question my level of manicure knowledge is: 0
posted by Cozybee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
1. There are quick-dry top coats to be had, I use Essie Good to Go (it is so fast!!).

2. Also, applying another layer of top coat every couple of days will hold off chipping and takes no time and is clear, so if you do somehow smudge, it won't show.

3. If you chip, and it needs a fix, pop on a bit of the colour and then put the fast-dry top coat over the whole nail. Just that one.

Or, people do all sorts of things with their nails so only having the tips coloured won't look weird. There are stencils out there for French tips, you could use those.
posted by wellred at 7:16 AM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

To answer question 2: are you talking about chipped polish? I've touched up chipped polish in the past and it's not that much of an ordeal. My procedure is to swipe the offending nail with rubbing alcohol to remove oils that stop polish adhering, go over the ENTIRE NAIL PLATE with my base coat of choice (CND Stickey if I'm doing regular polish), give it a minute or two to dry 'til tacky, touch up just chips with coloured polish, then go over the entire nail plate with a top coat of choice (Seche Vite 4 life).

But I'm a little confused about why you find removing nail polish so objectionable. Removing regular polish takes seconds with an acetone soaked cotton ball. Also, you need to clean the nail plate with some kind of solvent, like acetone or rubbing alcohol, to get rid of oils and promote adhesion if you don't want the polish to chip immediately.

A simpler routine would be to keep your cuticles oiled, nails filed and buffed. That would give you a neater look. Keeping your cuticles oiled makes nails look 200% better, anyway. A step beyond that would be using polish, but spending a little bit more time on prep. This means making sure your cuticles are totally pushed back, cleaning the nail plate thoroughly with nail polish remover or alcohol, and using a base cot and top coat. If you spend more time on prep the polish should last longer and you won't have to remove it so often.

Also, it's really not that much of an ordeal to do your own gel polish at home (that's what I do, as I get super impatient waiting for regular polish to dry), but removing gels can be a bit of a pain so it might not be a great option for you.
posted by nerdfish at 7:21 AM on February 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I totally paint just the tips, sometimes in white like french tips and sometimes coloured tips. I also use one of those buffing pads to buff my nails to a bit of a shine.

The easiest way to get a clean tip is to use those stick-on nail tip guides, or the circle stickers designed for ring binder holes.

I have nails where the polish chips easily and they're easily damaged by the constant polish-remove-polish-remove cycle (and yeah, it's a stinky faff).
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:30 AM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I own about 200 nail polishes and yet all I wear these days are Kiss Impress press-on nails. They last more than a week, take about 5 minutes to put on and 10 minutes to take off, don't require any waiting to dry, and stop me from messing with my natural nails. I can't recommend them highly enough. Plus, you can easily get 2 manicures out of one $6-8 box, and more once you have a few sets and can combine them. (They also stop me from picking at other blemishes and things, if that's an issue you have as well.) They have a lot of BOGO sales online, but you can also just pick them up at Walgreens or Walmart or wherever.

I am very tough on my hands and they still look great and stay on all week. Press-ons have come a long way.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:38 AM on February 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

What polish do you use and how hard are you on your hands in day to day life?

Admittedly, my day to day activities are not super hard on my nails but I can make an application of OPI infinite shine last for about 2.5 weeks at which point the colour on the edge of the very tip of the nails is wearing off and regrowth can be quite noticeable on the other end. After 3 weeks it’ll just start to look scuffed and that’s the longest I have ever gone. But it rarely chips and is near indestructible almost like gel polish without being a pain to remove.

So yes, whenever I do my nails it takes a total of four coats including base and top but it’s touchdry quite fast, it’s no bother after that until I am ready to just take it all off and start again. For what it’s worth I got about a week of unchipped wear out of a couple of coats of nailsinc in a glittery finish over Xmas.

And yes, cuticle oil
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:26 AM on February 7, 2019

In a pinch with chipped nails, I have used a shimmer polish of a similar shade as a cover up on all my nails and then another clear top coat. The original color shows through and I don’t have to start from scratch with a new manicure for a few more days.

Also in a pinch, I use Neosporin or generic antibiotic ointment for my cuticles.
posted by narancia at 10:55 AM on February 7, 2019

My sis-in-law swears by ColorStreet nail polish strips. They're real polish, easy to put on, and come off easily with polish remover. She put on a set with me watching, and it was really fast. She also gave me a few sets for Xmas, but I haven't tried them yet.
posted by blurker at 12:22 PM on February 7, 2019

I mostly stick to neutral shimmer and glitter polish (pale gold, light pink iridescent, etc.). These are very forgiving because it's hard to see where it's chipping.
posted by JenMarie at 1:30 PM on February 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

There are tons of lacquer strip brands out there, which sounds like just what you need. There’s also Jamberry (which is now called BeneYou) and they offer vinyl nail ‘wraps’ which are more fussy to apply than lacquer strips but also last lots longer. Jamberry is a MLM, but you can also order just directly from the corporate website. There are lots and lots of application videos on YouTube.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2019

I've only done the tips of my natural nails for the last 5 years. I like to match things I wear to the office and I don't like to spend a lot of time on it.

Things I've learned: put a clear base coat on first, this keeps your nails from yellowing as much.
Start the week with a light color on your tips, as you want to change things up go to a darker color.... some weeks I have 4 or 5 coats of gradually darkening color.

Bright red tips always get the most comments, it seems to be the most popular & noticeable.

Glitter polish can be used but it's not good for putting a new color over it unless the new color is also glitter and works well with the prior coat. Difficult to remove.

Just make a quick swipe directly across, then just touch the corners with the brush. You don't need to be totally perfect, no one but you will notice. In a short amount of time I became adept enough with the swipe with either hand that I was able to put a new color on the tip in one minute as long as the polish wasn't too thin. A big advantage is that a single swipe, single coat dries quickly, I could paint and be out the door to work in no time at all.

I recently retired and during my retirement party surprisingly there were two men that mentioned enjoying seeing the different color nail tips I would do, one had told his wife and she started doing it too.
posted by IpsoFacto at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

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