How Long Does Regular Nail Polish Last?

Treating yourself to a manicure or quality time at home doing your nails is excellent. But the effort and time will only be worth it if the manicure lasts a few days. So you might want to know how long regular nail polish last and if it is worth it.

How Long Does Regular Nail Polish Last?

A regular nail polish manicure lasts for three days to a week. The lifetime of nail polish will depend on how it is applied, the product quality, how the wearer maintains it, and the daily habits and chores the nails need to survive. Better aftercare results in a longer-lasting manicure.

A lifetime of three days to a week is quite the difference, and it might need clarification as to why it can only last three days or a week without chips.

How Long Does Regular Nail Polish Last On Toes?

regular nail polish on toenails

Regular nail polish will last much longer on toenails, and you can expect a lifetime of two weeks or a month without any chips. But, of course, this will depend on what shoes you wear, the length of your toenails, and the quality of the nail polish you use.

Nail polish on the toes lasts longer than fingers because they are not used for everything. Also, wear and tear on fingernails cause the polish to last shorter.

How Long Does Regular Nail Polish Last With Top Coat?

a nail technician painting gel polish top coat

Regular nail polish with a top coat will last longer than nail polish alone. This is because the top coat seals the colored layer and has ingredients to keep a more robust front than regular nail polish.

What Influence The Longevity Of Regular Nail Polish?

Certain factors will influence the longevity of your nail polish manicure. Some of these might be the cause why nail polish chips off quickly and only last for a couple of hours.

1. The Quality Of The Paint

Cheaper nail polish might influence how long the manicure will last. Cheaper versions are usually more watery and don’t have ingredients to prolong the lifetime of the paint. Older nail polish also loses its stickiness, and elements that keep the compound together fade as it comes in contact with air.

Shaking the bottle of nail polish before applying is something everyone does. The problems with a shake is that air bubbles can get trapped on your nail, causing bubbling and chipping. So instead of shaking the bottle, roll it around. This way, the liquid will still mix.

The type of nail polish will also determine how long the overlay will last. There are many types of nail polish on the market, and all differ in look and ingredients. Those with a gel-like component or stated as “long-lasting” has ingredients that help the nail polish to stick for longer.

first layer of regular nail polish

2. Nail Prep And Application

How thoroughly you prep the nails for a nail polish application can also influence how long the nail polish will last. Some only add the nail polish, two or three layers, and expect the overlay to last a week. However, it won’t give the nail polish a preferred surface to attach to.

The nail polish will have a better chance of surviving when you prepare the surface for the application.

  • Push back the cuticles – this way, there won’t be nail polish on the cuticles that can lead to lifting.
  • File correctly – filing the nails up and down will cause a rough edge that equals faster chips in the nail polish. Use a glass file if possible and file round, soft edges for the best results.
  • Buff the surface – the nail surface should be level with no ridges or bumps. The chance of polish lifting or bubbling is less with an even surface. 

3. Number Of Nail Polish Layers

The layers are usually one of the top culprits why a regular nail polish overlay lasts. However, how you apply the layers, the number of layers, and the nail polish drying can make or break your nail polish overlay.

  • Apply thin layers. You might have to apply an extra nail polish layer or two for a darker color. However, going for as few layers as possible is not the secret to a long-lasting manicure. 
  • You can add too many layers, especially if they are too thick and don’t get enough time to dry. Instead, opt for thin layers and gel-type nail polish if you want a thicker, gel-looking overlay.
  • The drying of each layer is crucial to the lifetime of your overlay. Suppose a layer doesn’t dry completely before you add the next; that layer will cause bubbles and lifting or smudging. Keep in mind that you don’t need a UV lamp to dry regular nail polish, just let it air dry naturally.

4. Daily Chores And Work

What you do with your hands daily will determine how long your overlay will last. For example, typing work might call for more touch up on the tips of the nails, as they take direct hammering to the keyboard each day. 

Cleaning or any job requiring that you submerge your hands in water often will also deteriorate the overlay on your hands. If you have a job like this, it might be why your regular nail polish overlay lasts less time than you want.

a person trying to paint her nails with regular nail polish at home

Tips For Longer-Lasting Regular Nail Polish

Here are a few tips to extend your regular nail polish overlay. It doesn’t guarantee a two-week chip-free overlay. Still, you will see a difference in the longevity of your regular nail polish manicure.

  • Use base coat and top coat – The base coat helps nourish the nail plate, giving the colored nail polish a surface to stick to, thus, ensuring it sticks longer. The top coat protects the color layer, and you won’t notice chips or cracks in color as fast.
  • Add top coat layer – add a thin top coat layer every third or fifth day. This way, you seal the color again and prevent any chips, especially on the edges.
  • Attend to chips immediately – if you fix a chip straightaway, you won’t have to struggle with an entire nail redo later. Paint over the edge with the color, let it dry and add the top coat layer on the whole nail.
  • Wear gloves when working with water, and don’t bath – keeping regular nail polish away from soaking in water is best for a long-lasting manicure. Get gloves to wash dishes and opt for a shower instead of a warm bath.


How long regular nail polish lasts will depend on how you prepare the nail, apply the polish, and take care of the manicure afterward. Hydrate your cuticles and fingers with cuticle oil. Be careful with daily chores if you want a manicure to last 10 days or more.