To find out, I called Amy Ling Lin, owner of sundays, a New York City nail salon-slash-meditation studio. Predictably, she says one of the major reasons is because hands are exposed to more than feet, but she offers up some surprising insights as well. One: Washing your hands really takes a toll on your mani. "Nail polish isn't quite compatible with water, so if you're soaking your hands a lot, that could be a reason why your manicure doesn't last," she says. That's because the nail actually expands when it's soaked, which stretches the polish and can lead to a weakening or chipping (PSA: This is also a good reason to ask for a dry manicure when you get your nails done). "Women who work in hospitals or are moms often tell me their polish doesn't stay on because they're washing their hands so much." You can thank her for your new excuse to let the dishes hang out in the sink for a while.
Something else you can blame? The sun. "There's a chemical reaction between the sun and the polish that can cause the polish to lose its shine," Lin says. She adds that you can use a top coat with a UV protector to guard against it, but it still plays a factor—and that goes for your feet, too. "If you go to the beach, you'll notice that the sun will dull the shine on your pedicure," Lin says. And while you can apply a fresh top coat when you get home, she doesn't recommend toting your polish to the beach. "Glass bottles don't protect the polish from the sun, so if you leave it in the heat or sun it can make the polish really sticky," she says.
In winter, feet are typically protected enough for a pedicure to last you a month, but because of more exposure in summer, it means you'll still be booking a pedicure more often. However, because it stays on so well, Lin doesn't see the benefit in splurging for a gel pedicure when it comes to your toes. "This is just my opinion, but I just don't think it's worth the cost," she says.
According to her, pedicures are more about your feet than the polish anyways. "A lot of clients wait three or four weeks between pedicures because the polish is still on, but in the summer, you should really come every two or three weeks because it's more about soaking your feet and cuticle care," she says. Leaving the dishes in the sink and scheduling self-care pedis every couple of weeks? Maybe that whole lifespan difference isn't such a bad thing after all.
Here's a handy little hack for getting your manicure to last a little longer. And if Kate Middleton is your qween, here's how to do your nails just like she likes hers.
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