Gel manicures are the dopest, amiright? First of all, let’s talk about how they are immediately dry (sorry—cured) which means you can fumble around in your purse for tip money without smudging, which is what happens every single time I get a traditional mani.And you can get cool nail art without worrying that all the hard work will chip within days. Gel nail brand Gelish says their manis last up to three weeks, but the last time I got one that sucker lasted for a whole month.Ahhh, but therein lies the rub.


If you’re trying to stretch it out for a month, as your nails grow, you get that line of bare nail at the base. Maybe if you do light pink it’s not such a big deal, but if you have designs or a bright color, it can look janky. The easy solution is to get a nail art design that looks good even as it grows out. Ombré with a clear base will work, or the of-the-moment negative space half moons. Anything that has clear or nude polish at the base is what you want. For instance, feast your eyes on these gorgeous designs from the super-chic nail art studio Paintbox in New York City. Be sure to head over there if you want one for yourself.


But you can’t just set it and forget it. A month of neglected cuticles is not cute, so keep them from getting straggly with daily care. “Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil is incredible; it has jojoba and coconut oils that will soften rough cuticles. You can never apply too often, so I would suggest for readers to apply it at least twice a day,” says Eleanor Langston, CEO of Paintbox.Julie Kandalec, Creative Director of Paintbox also offers this insider tip: “Put cuticle oil under the free edge, not just on the cuticle. It helps keep the natural nail underneath flexible and hydrated to prevent the gel from chipping off.”


The folks at Gelish also recommend you wear gloves when cleaning with chemicals, and don’t pick at any edges that start to peel up prematurely, as tempting as it might be.Follow these tips for your at-home mani, too. And if you need to up the ante on your DIY designs, be sure to check out the nine essentials for your nail art Caboodle, including a gel removal kit you can use at home while watching a “Law and Order: SVU” marathon.