If your polish color chips: Heavily pigmented browns and beiges tend to chip faster because their high levels of iron oxide and titanium dioxide crowd out the chip-preventing agents known as film formers. "Sheer pearlescent shades deflect chips best because their flatter, more uniform particles provide fewer areas of vulnerability," says Ernie Curtis, color cosmetics senior manager at Avon Products, in Suffern, New York. If you are wearing a brown or beige polish, you can help protect it by applying a long-wear topcoat.
If your polish looks dull: "Household cleansers, makeup remover, hair products, and sunscreen break down a polish's finish," says New Orleans dermatologist Patricia Farris. Whether you're cleaning the house or coloring your hair, wear protective gloves and use implements when possible to keep your nails far from shine-dissolving agents, Farris advises. Additionally, the problem could be that your polish is outdated. "The original hue, drying time, shine, and length of wear degrade over the life span of a polish," says John McCook, a cosmetics chemist and the CEO of Discovery Partners, a product-development firm in Frisco, Texas. "Purge polishes every six months," says McCook. "Discoloration and color separation that can't easily be fixed by shaking are cues that a lacquer has spoiled."
Products to Try
Orly smudge fixer ($8.50, amazon.com). Brushed over nicks, dents, and smudges, it instantly smooths them.
Essie Shine-E ($15, ulta.com). A high-gloss topcoat that brightens a dull manicure and makes it last a few more days.
Sally Hansen Mega Shine Extended Wear Topcoat ($5, at drugstores). Dries polish and keeps it intact for eight days.
Opi Start to Finish Base & Top Coat ($10, amazon.com). Fortifies nails and adds shine.
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Make Your Hair Color Last
If your color is fading: The protective outer layer (cuticle) of each strand of hair needs to remain intact to prevent color molecules from escaping; the more porous the hair, the more likely the hair color is to migrate out, explains Arun Nandagiri, a cosmetics chemist and the founder of Bria Research Laboratories, in Libertyville, Illinois. Any color treatment should be followed by deep conditioning (don't shampoo for 24 hours afterward). Then, two to three times a month, apply a deep-conditioning hair mask. In these masks, chemicals known as cationic polymers help keep the layers of hair closed like the shingles on a roof, says Nandagiri. And don't use clarifying shampoos, which can strip color. Also, the active ingredients in sunless tanners, makeup removers, and astringents can diminish hair color. "Before using products on the face, gather strands of hair into a ponytail with a boar-bristle brush," which is less damaging to hair, says Eric Fisher, owner of two salons in Wichita, Kansas. "Then avoid any large movements with the hands to prevent touching your hair."
If you have peekaboo hairs: Nonporous hairs, which tend to be gray, make holding on to color difficult. Hairstylist Cristophe, who owns five salons across the country, suggests asking your colorist to apply peroxide to roots first to make the hairs more porous and improve absorption.
Products to Try
Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo and Conditioner ($21 each, aveda.com.) These gentle moisturizing formulas won't strip away color..
Clairol Nice 'n Easy Root Touch-Up ($8, at drugstores). Applied directly with a brush, it dyes roots in 10 minutes to tide you over until your next salon visit.
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Make Your Makeup Last
If your makeup fades: The culprit may be fingertip application. "The hands' natural oils break down the makeup formulas," says Rachael Hood, a bridal specialist and the director of education for the Elan Makeup Studio, in Dallas. Apply products with sponges or brushes for an even, lasting effect. Then brush on a thin layer of translucent powder.
If your lipstick smudges: "Traditional stick lipsticks are very creamy and fade easily," says Gary Galante, a cosmetics chemist and the founder of Galante Associates, in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. "The most durable lip color is a highly pigmented liquid that comes in a tube with a sponge-tip applicator," says Galante. This can include many long-wearing ingredients, because it doesn't need the waxes that help stick formulas retain their shape.
Products to Try
M.A.C. Fix+ ($22, nordstrom.com). A face spray―one spritz helps makeup last longer.
I.D. Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil ($21, sephora.com). A powder that you can dust over makeup to help set it and absorb oil.