Gel manicures are one of our favorite nail luxuries thanks to their shine, durability, and, most importantly, longevity. The prison manis can indeed last ten days or more, but we wanted to find out if any tricks might help them in the long run as well. Further, we worked as humanely as possible for Evelyn Lim, Chief Educator at NYC-based nail salon Paintbox, for her insights on creating gel-manicures.

It’s preparing for the nail

According to Lim, finalizing your gel mani is about the proper maintenance of your nails before the salon hits. “Never peel off your gels, because gentle removal is important,” she says, “Be sure to choose a size and length that works best with your natural nails and lifestyle. ” This means that it is better to take care of your nails first. Your gel manicure, it will last a long time. Use cuticle oil daily, like Eski Apricot Cuticle Oil, to keep your nail bed hydrated, reliable, and flexible.

Do Not Reach for Top Coat

When you get a crack or lift in your gel manicure, it’s almost instinctual to reach for a top coat to attempt to cure it back in its place. This is the number one thing not to do, says Lim. “While applying a top coat over gel will not damage the nail, it may trap bacteria if not thoroughly prepped and cleansed before application,” she explains.

When in Doubt, Go Back to Your Salon

If you do run into an issue with your gel polish (whether it’s cracked or lifting), it’s best to go back to your nail technician so that it can be removed entirely then reapplied. “If you only have a snag or a small chip on the edge, try smoothing it out with a file, so it doesn’t catch on anything,” says Lim, but otherwise, leave it alone until you’re ready to head back to your salon.