1 · Prep is key
Buffing, smoothing and 'shining' the nail bed not only gives healthy looking nails, but removes any last traces of remover and polish providing a great smooth base ready for a new mani. You can do all three with an inexpensive four-way buffer such as this one from Boots.
2 · Start with a clean slate
It sounds obvious but anything sitting on the nail can affect how the polish adheres to the nail i.e. how long your nail polish lasts. Bear this is mind if you use cuticle remover or hand cream prior to painting; give nails a scrub with a nail brush, rinse and dry thoroughly.
3 · Use a base coat and top coat
Or at least a polish that promises to do both. Besides a base coat preventing staining, a decent top coat provides high shine and a few more days chip-free wear. I use two-in-one formulas as they serve just as well.
4 · Take your time
Apply one or two thin coats, rather than thick coats of polish as it will dry quicker and won't remain tacky on the surface. Dented nail polish anyone?
5 · Be aware of the tips
After painting a nail, run the brush along the free tip of each nail. Don't worry if it streaks, a top coat should disguise this once applied on top. Repeat with a top coat.
What are your tips for prolonging a manicure?