Why Does Nail Polish Crack? – 12 Tips to Prevent It

Everyone who is here is definitely a nail enthusiast. If you are here you want to know why after doing every possible thing YouTube and Gram recommended, still your nail polish cracks. You want to know the “Expert Tips” for a long-lasting manicure.

Why Does Nail Polish Crack

We all invest our time, energy, and money in our manis, right? We pour our hearts out through our nail paints. Seeing your beloved mani chip right in front of your eyes is like your heart shattering into a trillion pieces.

I don’t want that and neither do you! So I have researched, tried, and curated reasons why nail polish cracks and tips to prevent it. These tips come in handy if you want to make your manicure last longer.

Why Does Nail Polish Crack? – 8 Key Reasons Explained!

It’s no biggy, your nail polish cracks because of the simplest reason that you might have not paid attention to or skipped it or you might be like it doesn’t matter. Manicurist knows well the significance of each step and taking care of your nails. We spend money on salons not just to get a manicure but for their “expert treatment” on our nails.

Why Does Nail Polish Crack

I have outlined a few reasons that might contribute to your nail polish cracking so that you can identify the reason by yourself and take action accordingly.

Reason – 1: Dry nails.

Painting on a rugged surface is tough, right? It is the same for your nails. The quality of your nails is important to make the nail polish last longer. You cannot expect nail polish to last for 1 to 2 weeks when you have dry brittle nails.

Reason – 2: Inadequate setting time.

We all know there are four coats of application in nail polish, a base coat, two coats of nail polish, and a top coat. Suppose you do not give enough time for each coat to dry and smear another coat over it. You will reduce the shelf life of your mani. 

People do it often with a top coat thinking it’s transparent and it doesn’t matter. But the top coat plays the most crucial role in safeguarding nail polish. 

Reason – 3: Poor quality products.

If you see your nail polish cracking despite having healthy nails and proper setting time, low-quality nail polish might be the issue. 

You won’t apply just anything on your face, right? Then why give the same treatment to your nails? They deserve quality products too.

The money you save initially can cost you a bigger long-term amount. You must always shop for quality products. I purchased the chip-resistant nail polishes from O.P.I., ella+mila, and Sally Hansen. You can try those too!

Reason – 4: Improper preparation.

Prepping up your nails before applying nail polish is just like ironing your clothes before wearing them. You don’t wanna look clumsy and wear unironed clothes, right? 

If you skip buffing, filing, and pushing your cuticles, the longevity of the nail polish is questionable.

Reason – 5: Old nail polish.

We all have that polish in our kit that we just don’t wanna let go! 

Not everything becomes better with age except Wine, of course! As the nail polish gets old it thickens, the consistency decreases, and the application becomes difficult. It will not dry evenly and that’s why your nail polish cracks if it’s quite old.

Reason – 6: Overlayering.

This is the major cause of my nail polish cracking. For one I cannot sit still, if my nail polish chips I apply another layer over it, and so forth. But this only reduces the life of my manicure. 

The overlayered nails look clumsy, bumpy, and not at all aesthetically pleasant.

Reason – 7: Sun and heat exposure.

If you look at the ingredients of your nail polish bottle, you will find water too. Exposing your nails to heat might dry out your nail polish earlier.

The sunlight is not good every time, right? Though it does give you the essential vitamin D, it fades and cracks your nail polish. 

Reason – 8: Dehydrated nails.

Anything that is dehydrated will shrink, crack, have folds, etc. The same goes for your nails. It can be dehydrated if you use alcohol-based products and chemicals on your nails. 

How to Prevent Nail Polish from Cracking? – 12 Proven Ways!

I discussed the reasons for nail polish cracking in the previous section. Now I will discuss the tips to prevent this from happening. After all, we all deserve long-lasting manicures.

Why Does Nail Polish Crack

The tips I have curated are basic, a few of you might be already doing that and a few of you might be doing it wrong. Let’s roll to find out. 

Tip – 1: Sealing.

This is the most skipped step and it is also the most important one. You gotta protect your mani by sealing it with a top coat too! But you also need to apply it horizontally on the nail edges for better protection as this is the first area to crack. 

Tip – 2: Stay Away from the water.

Not for eternity of course, but just before and after applying polish. Nails are porous, they might absorb water and cause the polish to crack. So, it’s best to avoid water before and after painting your nails.

Tip – 3: Adequate setting time.

Applying nail polish is a leisure process you cannot be hasty with that. Each step is supposed to take its sweet time before it dries out. Allow each coat to set for 2 minutes no matter what the nail polish bottle says. 

Tip – 4: Nail Health.

Just don’t keep applying polish and ignoring your nail health. If you find they are not growing, are chipping early, or are scaly, you need to pay attention to them.

Take a healthy diet, take multivitamins or nail health gummies. Have a “no nail paint period” to maintain their health, as the polish is nothing but chemicals. Your nails deserve a break from chemicals too.

Smear your nails in cuticle polish during this time and massage them in circular motions.

Tip – 5: Proper preparation.

Prepping your nails with a nail buffer, nail filer, and cuticle pusher gives an even surface for the nails to adhere to. You must use a nail buffer to create a smooth surface. 

I know many of us file our nails back and forth. You must file your nails in one direction to prevent them from cracking. You must use cuticle pushers to give the appearance of elongated nails. Make sure to not push your cuticles too far as it might damage them. 

Tip – 6: High-quality products.

Use better quality products for your nails. Treat and pamper them the way you would do to your skin. The quality nail polishes will have better ingredients and consistency. They give a much better finish and appearance. Try to purchase the chip-resistant ones. 

Tip – 7: Purchase new nail polish.

No nail polish bottle has a shelf life of an eternity. You keep them just because you love the shade or whatever might be your reason. 

When your nail polish looks bumpy, clumsy, and less appealing, take the hint and purchase a new nail polish. 

Tip – 8: Apply thin layers.

Applying thin and even layers of nail polish allows them to adhere better and gives a smoother surface. It also has the benefit of decreased drying time and a lesser chance of cracking.

Overapplication results in a distorted appearance and longer drying time. Three strokes of nail polish cover the nail surface evenly. Anything more than that will make it look bumpy. 

Tip – 9: Avoid Heat and Sunlight.

Yeah, I know it’s difficult, you cannot avoid heat and sunlight forever. But the key here is to avoid prolonged heat and direct sunlight. If you are using a hair dryer, make sure to keep it away from your freshly painted nail surface.

We all know the harmful effects of UV radiation. We do wear sunscreen to protect our face from it. But what about our hands?  You can also apply sunscreen on your hands and nails to protect your manicure from direct sunlight. But, it is better to avoid direct exposure as much as possible. 

Tip – 10: Moisturization is the key.

I keep hand cream and cuticle oils handy and trust me I love my hands after regularly applying them. My hands are smooth and my nail quality has improved for better. I massage each nail in circular motions for 2 to 3 minutes and my nail quality has been phenomenal!

Tip – 11: Get a gel nail polish.

The gel nail polish has the benefit of lasting longer. Getting a gel manicure can be expensive and time-consuming. You can opt for at-home kits that will do just the task. But you need to properly prep your nails like a nail technician would do. It involves buffing, cuticle pusher, filing, alcohol cleaning, and dehydrating.

Tip – 12: Go Waterless!

Have you heard about waterless manicures? I too discovered it recently and have tried that as it gives a logical explanation for nail polish crack. 

Our nails are porous and absorb water during our manicures. As a result, they expand and shrink after the water evaporates, but our polish cannot do that. So, the nail polish cracks prematurely. So during the next manicure go waterless!

Wrapping up:

Along with the above-mentioned tips, to prevent the nail polish from cracking you should also pay attention to the storage of your nail polishes. I prefer to keep my nail paints in the refrigerator. Keeping them in high-heat and humid areas will affect their consistency. Store them in a cool and dry place.

Roll the bottle between your hands and don’t shake it: Shaking will result in air bubbles and early cracking. Also, make sure that you don’t apply nail paint in humid areas! Humidity hinders the drying of nail polish. The polish will take a longer time to dry.

These tips are a sure-shot method to give you a long-lasting manicure and prevent nail polish from cracking along with improving your nail health.


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