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A great manicure can make or break a look, and whatever your colour preference, you’ll want a healthy set of nails to work with. Many of us have bad habits whether it’s nail-biting, peeling off flaking polish, or just not treating our nails with the proper care they deserve. Here are our ten worst nail habits that can ruin a great manicure or just damage your nails in the long run, as well as what you should be doing instead!

#1 Using your nail file like a saw
Dragging a nail file back and forth across your nail edges can cause small tears and splits that will weaken your nails over time. Always make sure you file your nails in one direction to get a smoother and more refined finish.

#2 Trimming (or biting) your cuticles
Our nails are meant to have cuticles. Cutting them too deep also brings about the risk of infection (open wounds are never good). They also tend to grow back flaky and really don’t look much better. Just stick to a cuticle oil or softener and use an orange stick to push your cuticles back gently.

#3 Doing your nails in a warm or humid place
Our weather is warm and humid pretty much all the time, so I suggest putting the airconditioning on before doing your nails. Just make you don’t hole up in the room for too long and that it’s a room you can air out after or the fumes will get trapped.

#4 Shaking the nail polish bottle
You know those pesky air bubbles you sometimes see in your coat of nail polish? You get those from shaking the bottle or shoving the brush back in too quickly. Try rolling the bottle between your palms instead.

#5 Doing without a base coat
A base coat does more than just extend the life of your manicure. Our nails have oils that might prevent a nail polish from adhering properly which is why we need a base coat to seal the surface of our nail and act as a primer for the nail polish. It also keeps your nails from staining as easily.

#6 Applying thick coats of polish
Sometimes it’s easier to apply one thick coat than two thinner ones. A thick coat is going to take much longer to dry as the outside will dry before the inside of the coat, meaning you’re more likely to ruin your manicure by touching things.

#7 Using a q-tip to clean up your nail polish
You risk getting stray cotton fibers caught in your wet nail polish if you use a q-tip. Try an old makeup brush – an eye or lip liner brush works best for me – especially one that’s stiffer and has a rounded precise tip.

#8 Letting your nails anywhere near hot water
For upwards of four hours after a mani, the polish is still sensitive to heat and hot water can cause the polish to chip a lot more easily. If you’re having a shower, don’t let the water get too hot. Doing dishes (though I personally recommend avoiding dishes for at least a few hours)? Wear some rubber gloves.

#9 Leaving your nail polish on too long
Like gel nails, leaving your regular polish on too long can leave your nails very dry, not forgetting the staining and yellowing of your natural nail. It’s best to remove your nail polish when it starts to chip or after about one to two weeks, and leave them unpainted for a few days to recover.

#10 Peeling off your nail polish
Your nail polish is pretty attached to the top layer of your fingernails, and peeling off polish (even if it’s chipping off on its own) can damage the surface of your nails. If you don’t want to weaken your nails, use a nail polish remover and moisturise your nails after.

Want to know how to better care for your nails? Here are three easy steps to get healthier nails.