We Found the One Thing That’s Ruining Your Manicure

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The typical nail salon experience is pretty easy to pinpoint.

You sit down, you get your nail polish removed, you get a two-minute (usually half-assed) hand massage, your hands get slathered in lotion and, right before a coat of nail polish is applied, your fingers get soaked in a bowl of soapy water.

But, apparently, that last step is what’s ruining your manicure.

In an interview with Refinery 29, Mai Flores-Reyes, a nail artist from Paint Box Nail Salon in New York City, explained why soaking your nails before applying nail polish can harm the longevity of your nail color.

“Since nails are very porous, they absorb 10 times more water than your skin,” she told Refinery. “When that happens, your nails expand. Since it takes 24 hours for nails to go back to normal, the manicure looks great for the first 24 to 48 hours. After your nails contract and dry, your polish starts to chip or peel.”

I know, you feel like you’ve been lied to your entire life, right?

“Water makes the cuticles elasticated and stretchy, and, because of this, they’re more likely to tear during a manicure,” she continued. “Salons and nail-treatment techniques are very much set, and have always traditionally performed manicures on wet skin.”

But that doesn’t mean they have to.

“Just because you have been doing something for so long does not mean you’re doing it right,” she said. “Like I always say, ‘Work smarter, not harder.'”

So next time you go into get your nails painted, don’t be afraid to ask for a soak-free experience.