Vicki Benner’s French manicures aren’t just pretty, they’re tough — lasting one to two weeks. And her pedicures can last up to a month, she says. What’s her secret? Benner, the nail department director for the Chazios/Bladez Salon in Lake in the Hills, Ill., makes a subtle switch: She applies the white before the base coat.

Here’s the procedure she follows:

1) Scrub the nail plate with a nail cleanser to completely remove any residue that might cause polish to peel.
2) Apply two thin coats of white polish at the free edge.
3) Apply a thin coat of base coat/strengthener (she likes Creative’s Toughen Up). This seals the white and helps the next layer to bond to the nail plate.
4) Follow with one thin coat of a clear or slightly opaque polish with just a hint of iridescence. (Benner recommends Creative’s Negligee.)

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