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Manicure Trick – Wrap Your Tips

manicure tip trick wrap nail tip or edge with polish Much like wrapping the perfect present, a flawless, long lasting manicure requires a little wrapping of its own.  Wrapping the free edge of your nail with polish helps extend the wear of your manicure and should become an essential step in your routine.

I’m sure most professional nail techs consider this part of their everyday manicure service but it’s not as well known in the consumer world.  Since we discussed this technique in the comments of my Quirius review, and there were multiple requests for details, I figured a quick tutorial was in order.

Read on to see my step-by-step guide to wrapping your tips and get a look at one of American Apparel’s latest nail polish releases. It’s GREEN!

Apparently I can’t get enough of teal, turquoise and aqua at the moment.  As much as I try not to latch onto trends, you can only see so many gorg blue-green brights before getting sucked in.  There are so many in my office right now that you’d swear I’m adopting a Caribbean theme.  One of the shades I’ve been dying to try is from American Apparel’s Summer Collection called Malibu Green so I decided to use it for this tutorial.

Wrap Your Nail Edge

Step 1 – Apply base coat and first layer of nail polish as usual.  Allow the lacquer to dry.

Wrapping Nail Edge Manicure Tip

Step 2 – Wipe off your brush really well leaving a minimal amount polish on the bristles.  Gently swipe the brush along the free edge of your nail getting a bit of polish just underneath the tip.  You can hold the brush at a lower angle than seen here but because I don’t have three arms that was impossible to show.


You will end up with a small bead of polish along your edge (mine is exaggerated) but we will cover that up in Step 3.

Manicure Trick - Wrapping the nail

Step 3 – Apply a second coat of polish while the bead is still wet so that it all blends together leaving a smooth surface.  Some people may prefer to paint the free edge while the first layer is still wet but this is my preferred method.

Manicure Trick for extended wear, wrapping the edge

If done correctly  you will see a bit of polish under your nail.  Again, mine is exaggerated in this example.  You want to paint a very fine line on the edge using as little polish as possible.

Manicure Tip Wrap Nail Edge with Polish

Step 4 – Wrap your tip with top coat.  Paint a thin line of top coat along the free edge first and then apply a layer to the entire nail.

american apparel malibu green nail lacquer summer 2010

Tip: When working with dark polishes, you should wrap your edge with base coat to prevent staining.

There you have it folks. A quick and easy trick you can add to your manicure routine to help extend polish wear.

Was this helpful? How many of you already wrap your nails? Do you even bother if you only plan to wear the color for a few days? Do you have any additional tips to add?

The American Apparel Summer colors are on sale now at and I’ll be doing a full review of them soon.

Disclosure: A sample bottle of Malibu Green was furnished to me by American Apparel.  For more info view my Disclosure Policy.

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There Are 73 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Heather says:

    Thanks for the tip. =) I always appreciate tips that are simple enough to do on my own.

  2. Fj says:

    Wow wow wow this is like a revelation for me. I had no idea about this technique and no wonder my polish chipped after two days. Thank you so much for posting about this!

  3. Nicole says:

    Thanks for the great tips! Uh, no pun intended… I don’t do this but I think I’ll start, despite the fact that my polish rarely lasts more than 2-3 days anyways :P

  4. Sara says:

    I do this trick although sometimes it doesn’t work that well, meaning that the polish still chips off the tips! I think I need to find a better base & top coat set.

    My other “trick” if I want a polish to stay on for a good 5-7 days is that the day after (or sometimes just HOURS later if I did my nails in the morning) I’ll add one more coat of the same polish on + more topcoat. I think I picked that up in some magazine and it sure does help to keep the polish on for longer! Plus it helps cover up any little “blemishes” I may have caused the day before. I’m impatient about waiting for my nails to dry =P

    • Georgia says:

      I do this – the extra coat of np + topcoat – have been doing it for years. Don’t know where I got the idea, but it works well. I also refresh almost daily with a treatment/slow-dry topcoat (Nailtek II Intensive Therapy) and my manis LAST!

  5. nailpolishes says:

    this was very helpful. actually i’ve never tried it even if wearing lacquers for a few days. i just read about it once and now at ur blog.

    thank u :)

  6. Megan says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! However, I keep my nails VERY short so that I have no free edge. Is it possible to wrap my nails if I don’t have a free edge?

  7. JB says:

    I always, always wrap my tips with base coat, one coat of np, and top coat. I think it makes a big difference in how long a mani can last. I even wrap the tips of my big toes when doing a pedi!

  8. Sirene says:

    Awesome tip!! Thank you :)

  9. Denette says:

    This is a great tutorial! I wrap my tips even though it can be difficult with my nubbins, but it really helps ensure I don’t get shrinkage with my fast dry top coat. I don’t get shrinkage as often since I switched to Nubar Diamont but it will occasionally happen with polishes that dry fast, so as an extra precaution I wrap my tips!

    BTW, Malibu Green is a lovely color on you!

  10. Rebekka says:

    Can’t wait to try this!

  11. Audrey says:

    I always wrap my tips – now only with top coat as I find it too hard to get off from under my nails (I am really lazy tho) but i used to slap it on – I’ll try your tip of only using a really small amount of colour.

    Thanks – Your website is AMAZING!!!


  12. karen says:

    i always thought you were supposed to do it once you did your last coat. that confused me cuz i was like then i’m going to have this ugly horizontal line! but it makes sense to do a final coat over it to smooth it out. thanks for the tutorial :)

  13. Andrea says:

    This is so helpful – thanks! I didn’t know what the Wrap Technique was until I read your blog today, but now I’m going to use it often, I think.

    I have done the Wrap Technique with the final coat of polish before (not knowing that there was a name for it) in an effort to prolong wear time, but always ended up unhappy because it looked so sloppy because I could see the little, thin, horizontal line. But your suggestion of doing it on the first or second coat of polish is a good idea because then I can hide it on the third coat. And, of course, finish off with the top coat wrap, like you instructed.

    Truth be told, I’ve never actually had a manicure in my life, so I’ve never seen this done.

    I’m so pleased and looking forward to a polish change so I can test this out!

  14. Denise says:

    I always wrap my tips, although I can’t make a very fine line – mine look like your example. I keep my polish on 3-5 days depending on when I get the time or if there’s a special occation. I do a wrap with each layer of base, color, and top coat because I have thin bendy, nails and need all the protection I can get. Thanks for the tutorial; it’s always good to see what everyone else does with their polish routines!

  15. Pat says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I will try this on my next mani.

  16. kfb says:

    Hi! Great tips! Literally!! I usually wrap every coat: base, 2 of color, and top. Is this too much? Does it actually cause chips because the polish is too thick? Also, I have been having trouble with bubbles lately. I don’t shake my polish so I’m not sure what the deal is. They form several hours after I do my manicure- Any suggestions?

    • Sim says:

      For me I realized the bubbles only form when it’s really hot. (That would also explain why you strted getting bubbles now, in the summer.) So in the summer when I’m applying polish I make sure to do it in a cool, air-conditioned room OR hold a cold bottle of water before application and while drying, so my hands stay cold :)

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Like Sim said, bubbles can be caused by excessive heat but there are other causes as well. Using layers that are too thick. Not waiting long enough between layers. Polishing in front of a fan or near an open window in the breeze.

      I did a post on bubbles once, a few years back.
      Nail Tip Of The Week: Preventing Bubbles

      Also, if you get just a few bubbles and don’t want to start over, dab the pad of your finger in some remover and lightly buff the bubbles. Add a thin layer of polish and top coat.

  17. Glockoma says:

    I can totally vouch for this tip because every time I give myself a manicure, I wrap my tips with every layer: the base coats (I use two: Nail Tek & Creative), 2-3 coats of colour, and 1 top coat. My manicures almost always last 1 week, but I’ve sometimes worn manicures for up to 3 weeks without getting a single chip! And by profession, I’m a writer, so I’m constantly typing all day long. Ladies, simple wrapping your tips when you paint your nails really does extend the life of your manicure. Try it – you’ll be surprised what a difference it’ll make.

  18. Rita says:

    Hi. Does this really work? Cause i use another technique that does make my polish last longer and it’s the opposite. I have learned it from a Brazilian friend and what i do is to clean the tip.
    Thanks anyway

  19. CucumPear says:

    Wrapping is absolutely essential, my polish chips within hours if I don’t, because my nails are so thin and bend all the time. I generally wrap the base coat, half of the coats of coloured polish and of course top coat.
    I do it a bit differently, though: wrapping isn’t a separate step (I tried that and it didn’t work for me at all). I do the wrap an one nail first, then dip and immediately paint that nail. Then I wipe off the brush and move on to the next nail.

  20. NailPolishFan says:

    I had no idea what wrapping of the nails meant.Thanks for the step by step guide.

  21. Kimberly says:

    I knew about this tip but, just am lazy, I guess. I haven’t been wearing my polishes very long. And when they do chip or peel, it gives me a good reason to do a new mani. ;)

  22. Chaosbutterfly says:

    This is a really great tutorial!
    When I was wearing my polishes for three to seven days at a time, I would do this. Only, I would do it the other way. So like, I’d paint down the nail, and when I reached the end of the nail, I’d continue moving the brush over the edge and slightly under the tip. It worked really well too…if I used a good polish, I could stay chip free for about five days.

    Now I change my polish every 1-2 days, so I don’t see the point anymore. lol!!

  23. Colette says:

    Even though a lot of the time during the week I change my polish daily, I still always wrap my tips because I type all day long at work & am just generally rough with my hands. One of the best tricks EVER & I agree a lot of people who do their own nails don’t seem to know this trick.

  24. Trina says:

    lol. I used to do this, but eventually i realized it doesn’t really matter since i get bored of colors very quickly. And anyway, I’m too lazy to wrap my tips nowadays since the polish chips just as quickly whether i do this step or not. I find it doesn’t really make my mani last longer. *shrugs* :)

  25. Polishis says:

    Hi, I love the polish in this post!!!
    And I always wrap my nails with base, colour and topcoat, the extra swipe is no trouble at all and it really extends the wear with days!
    I must say I thought everyone did that…but aparantly not everyone does, so it’s really good of you to post this, spread the word!

  26. lelila says:

    wow, super thanks on this tip. my polish only lasts a day or two, no matter what I do. maybe this will solve it!

  27. Lauren says:

    Wow, I’ve always done this type of thing, but I didn’t know it was actually a thing to do! I just did it because I wanted the color on the edge too, but it’s neat to find out it’s actually helpful. ^_^

  28. April says:

    I didn’t know about this trick. Thanks for the step-by-step guide! Can’t wait to try it! Kfb mentioned having trouble with bubbles, too…I’d love for you to address that sometime.

  29. Nathalie says:

    Thank you for this tutorial. I will definitely try this out :)

  30. Jen says:

    I do know this and I do it if I plan to keep a mani more than 2 days but that hardly ever happens. It does work certainly.
    It’s just that bit harder to remove the polish next time…

  31. Meika says:

    I picked this tip up from the salon whet I get my pro manicures done, and it really does extend the life of my manicure.

    Another tip a friend told my about is doing layers of base coat in between the layers of polish and then top it off with a top coat. It sounds like a lot of extra work but my manicures (the ones I did myself) went from lasting a couple of days to about a week and a half.

  32. I don’t think I’ve ever wrapped the tips of my nails before. At this point I can’t because my workplace doesn’t allow polish for safety reasons. :(

  33. spacegeek says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. Like another reader, I thought one was supposed to do it at the end of the color application, and I didn’t like the horizontal line. Your tutorial made the order of application clear! Thanks so much!

  34. Mary says:

    Amazing!! I’m going to try tonight!!! and I will have to share with my youtube subbies and of course I always give you credit when I get an idea from you!!

  35. mrsa says:

    thank you

  36. Deb says:

    I’ve been wrapping my tips for a long time. I wrap my tips with top coat as well. I was wondering how many people do that.

  37. Altea says:

    I love it when you share your tricks! Thank you so much :)

    I used to do it when my nails were a bit longer. Now that I keep them quite short I can’t avoid staining my tips when I do it, so since I like changing my polish every couple days I don’t even bother most of the times.

    Any tips about removal? I find it so hard when I have to remove polish from under my nails.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      A remover soaked cotton swab should do the trick or bend a cotton pad so that you have an edge to swipe underneath. Wrapping some cotton around the end of an orange would stick would work as well. The Hands Down pads I use are pretty firm so I can easily get under my nail.

  38. Kelsey says:

    Hmm. I’ve heard of “wrapping your tips” on other nail blogs, but never knew what it actually was until I read this post. The thing is, I’ve always tried to AVOID getting nail polish under my nails, because I keep them short and getting polish out from under my nails when it comes time for removal is a real b*tch! Do you have any suggestions for this problem?

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      If the line is thin enough, getting the polish from underneath your nail shouldn’t be much of an issue. However it you have trouble removing it, try a remover soaked cotton swab under the nail or wrap an orange wood stick with cotton. I use Hands Down pads from Sallys and they’re thin enough to get under my nail.

  39. Silja says:

    Thank you so much! I’m trying this first thing tomorrow. :)

  40. ReaderRita says:

    I try to wrap them, but my nails are always so short (splitting, peeling, breaking, etc.) I just get the polish all over my finger tips! I still try, however- and spend forever on the cleanup…
    Great article, as always!

  41. Serena says:

    I’ve always done this..because I think it looks better in addition to extending the life of your manicure.

  42. Lydia says:

    This sounds like a great technique — Can’t wait to try it on my next manicure!

  43. LizKS says:

    I’m in the habit of wrapping my nails and before I even wrap them I use a nail strengthener under my nails as well as on top. It seems to help my nails and my polish to not chip.

  44. Catherine says:

    I just painted my nails for the first time in years (discovered the nail polish fanatic world this week), and this guide is great! I will definitely try it out, since the tips are the part I’m least happy with. Thanks!

  45. Debbie says:

    As always fantastic tute and a great tip, thanks for this! Had never heard of it to be honest and although I keep my nails very short there is just enough tip for me to give it a whirl. Now all I need is a tute from you on how to banish flaking for ever and I’d be good to go!

    • Debbie says:

      quick update …. just had a go at this on my short nails and found that exactly as when I used to do the tip for a french manicure, its easier to place the loaded brush on one side of the nail and to rotate your finger tip under the brush than to move the brush, even on my very short nails got very little nail varnish underneath.

  46. Bonbon's says:

    Thank you so much. Amazingly easy!

  47. navicita says:

    thanks for the tip im going to try it tonight

  48. Jennifer says:

    We nailtechs call this “capping the free edge”.

  49. Arrianne says:

    I’ve known about this for a while, but I normally don’t do it since I wear polish for only 3 days.

  50. J. says:

    I want to say that I am a nail technician and the method you have shown isnt one that we use. Its actually a lot simplier than the one you have demostrated. If you see the polish under the nail then it is not done correctly. The polish should only be covered on the very very edge of the nail. Polish underneath the nail would not be very clean and neat. Good try though.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Hi J! Thanks for sharing. I mentioned in my post that my line at the edge was exaggerated so I don’t normally get that much polish under the tip of my nail when I wrap my tips however I’m certainly not a professional so I just showed the method I use. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  51. Tina says:

    I wrap! I didn’t know it was called that though. I used to get manis but couldn’t figure out why those lasted longer than the ones I did at home. I noticed one day about a year ago that my manicurist did this. I’ve been doing it ever since. I usually change it up every couple of days but for those weeks when I’m extra busy & don’t have time for a polish change, this makes the polish last the whole week :]

  52. B says:

    Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve been wrapping my tips for a while now and it definitely helps. I’ve been silly and wrapped AFTER the 2nd coat of poish but will now try it beforehand like you suggested. No more bumps!
    Thanks :)

  53. Lupis says:

    I must say, wrapping really prevented my nails from chipping for an entire week! wohoo!!

  54. Kendal says:

    I need tips on how to do this with shorter nails. I make a horrible mess! :P

  55. Wanda says:

    Thanks for this tip. My manicurist actually shared it with me the last time I was in.

  56. pocketsized says:

    Hey, I saw some ladies requested the wrapping technique for those of us with shorter nails. I am thirding that! I can’t have nails past my finger-tips because I’m a vet tech and it would interfere terribly with my work. I keep a bit of free edge (despite this being strongly advised against at school), and I repaint about every 5 days or so (lacquer is a gray area in this profession for the medical staff, but like any office-work chips are a big no-no [would repaint more often but my schedule doesn't allow it]). So, I try to wrap the best I can but as aforementioned by other commenters I make a huge mess because my free edge doesn’t hang. I (and others it seems) would really, really appreciate any advice on the topic you have to offer. Thank you so much.

  57. Morgan says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been trying to figure out how to wrap my tips, and have been doing it kind of oddly, this ‘real’ way will be much easier! It seems so easy, but there are a LOT of other ways you can try it, and some of them are quite messy, lol. I second the idea of a method for those of us that have to have short nails. I would think this technique would sort of work, though it might require some cleanup. Other than that I would also think short nails might not wear on the tips as fast? I will have to test this theory when I start my new job and have to cut my nails down :)

  58. Astro Zed says:

    I don’t bother to wrap the tips for two reasons. First, my nails are short, barely past the tips of my fingers. Second, I change polish every day.

  59. Esther says:

    Thanks, this was helpful! :)

  60. jan says:

    Good info! Thanks for the pics too!

  61. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this! I usually just wrap the tips with top coat but will try wrapping with my colour polish too. Love your blog btw, your swatches are always so beautiful!