Angela Robles, director of Houston's Bliss Nail Spa, shares her tips for a DIY manicure with staying power.

Credit: Bernard Levy

1. Start with clean—really clean—nails.
Spotless nails offer the foundation for a long-lasting manicure. "Ridding the nail beds of dirt and grime, as well as oil or lotion residue, ensures polish adheres properly," Angela says.

2. File in one direction.
Filing in multiple directions causes tiny slits in the nails. Regardless of the paint job, this uneven surface leads to wear and tear.

3. Opt for a neutral shade.
Bright colors are noticeable when they chip. To help mask nicks, Angela recommends choosing a lacquer in the same color family as your skin tone.

4. Don't skimp on the topcoat.
"Topcoats offer more than a pretty sheen," Angela says. "They also create a sturdy barrier." Apply a fresh topcoat every few days.

5. Moisturize regularly.
Dry skin leaves hands looking unkempt and is even worse for your nails. "Every time you wash your hands or do dishes, that water zaps your manicure's staying power," she says. Water exposure makes nails weaker. To keep nails and cuticles supple, apply a nutrient-rich hand cream several times a day.