Why Does My Nail Polish Peel Off? 9 Fixes Explained

At some point, there is a mutual annoyance towards nail polish that is peeling off your nails. Let’s agree that the looks of it – can get ugly. 

Having a wish for beautiful nails with only a little time in our days makes the struggle real. You would spend hours finding nail polish options that are long-staying and go with your wardrobe.

Even then, days later when you look down at your fingertips, what you see is flaking nail paint, peeling away just like your hopes. And you ask yourself, “Why does my nail polish peel off?”

Then comes the phase where you will have the temptation to pick, peel or bite on the nail polish. And if you weren’t aware, that’s certainly not a good idea. 

This is where we come!

This article is all about the kind of nail polish you apply, what situations cause them to peel off, and what you can do to avoid the disaster. Let’s read on. 

Can Nail Polish Come Off By Itself?

Yes! It’s completely natural for your nail polish to come off after a certain time period. 

Imagine if it couldn’t? That would have been bizarre! But one innocent wish we all have is to get a nail polish that would last for a good time. 

After all, the average cost of a decent manicure is between $20 – $40.

A general period of regular nail polish is 3-5 days that is also dependent on many other factors. There are some other key factors and circumstances that affect the durability of your polish. 

This could range from the quality, type of nail polish you use to what the lifestyle and condition of your nails are. For example, people like doctors, nurses, or anyone with a hand-intensive job or hobby may find their nail paints to wear off earlier.

Moreover, some people have naturally oilier nail kinds which affect how a nail polish stays on. At other times, your nice summer fun, saltwater or sunscreens, could dull your paints. 

When Does A Nail Polish Peel Off Naturally?

The durability of nail polish could differ from person to person, situation to situation, or even be dependent on the kind of nail polish you are using. 

Following we have mentioned some nail polish kinds and their usual peel-off times.

Gel Nail Polish

This one has become a mainstay for beauty routines. The nail paint kind not only stays for longer, but it is also beautifully glossy and easily available at stores and nail salons. 

The ingredients in a gel polish are stronger than usually available lacquers and hence are more resilient in daily wear. 

Moreover, the gel is mostly cured under UV or LED lamps, locking it onto the nails and hence making it chip-free for weeks. 

These nail paints can last up to four weeks if the application is right and there is proper care taken.

Acrylic Nail Polish

Acrylic in the nail art world applies to two different kinds of polish. One is made for use on fake or acrylic nails and the other is a water-based version of the paint. 

Speaking of the popular version, acrylic nail polish is made by combining a liquid and a powder. The combination is then applied to bare nails. Once it dries, the coating hardens and is filled to the desired shape. 

Again the nail paint is one of the resilient ones and lasts up to two weeks with proper care and application. 

Breathable Nail Polish

Just as it sounds, breathable nail polish allows your nails to breathe. They allow water and oxygen to pass through rather than creating a proofed thick barrier on your nails. 

Breathable nail paints are in fact as nourishing as they sound. They provide the right amount of hydration and break your nails need in between frequent manicures and pedicures. 

Breathable nail polishes are usually labeled as water permeable and have similar wearability as normal nail polish. As in they can last 3-4 days to a week. If you are all into nail care, which you should be, then this nail polish is one of the ideal kinds.

Polygel Nail Polish

This one is the ultimate, magical mix that nail technicians would want to have. Polygel nail polish brings together both the quality acrylics and the glossy shine of a gel nail polish. 

This mix gives the nail artists the right control to provide a flawless manicure. The process that usually follows – involves the application of the gel on bare nails using an acrylic brush. Then the nails can be shaped and cured with the LED or UV light. 

This nail polish is the tough kind. It lasts up to 21 days which makes it one of the most durable options. 

Dip Powder Nail Polish

This one is another of the “Long-stay” nail polish kind. Dips are said to last for a duration of 3 weeks to a month. 

The application process of this one includes applying a high-quality base coat, then adding a layer of colored powder. Once dried, the process is replicated until there is a solid, opaque look. 

Lastly, a sealant is applied to lock in all of that. 

Dip nails also are prepped well before the application process – which means removing any debris, shaping and filing nails, and pushing back the cuticles.

 Also, the Dip nail paint process uses a different kind of base coat which is not like a regular one. 

Shellac Nail Polish

Shellac is another hybrid nail polish. This one combines the qualities and attributes of regular nail polishes with gel ones. 

The process of its application is similar to gel polish. That is applied to bare nails and cured with UV light. However, longevity is not the same. It will only last for up to two weeks.

Situation 1 Of 5: Nail Polish Peels Off Immediately/Right Away

You have come a long way picking up the right products, technicians, colors and spending a lot of time to get the perfect manicure.

 Irrespective of all that, at times, the horror lies in nail polish peeling off. The reasons could be many. 

Following we will present you different situations when your nail polish would peel away. Starting with the most unfortunate one, which is that your nail paints wear off immediately after application. 

Why Does My Gel Nail Polish Peel Off Immediately?

The answer to this one could be one of many. 

Mainly it has to do with improper prepping of your nails. Just like painting a wall, the nails need to be prepared for the application of nail paints so that they can adhere to them and last longer.

Here are reasons why your nail polish peels off immediately: 

  1. During a manicure, the debris, oils, or natural hydration of the nails is left on causing the nail paint to not stick. 
  1. The sanding bands are not correctly used or not used at all to prepare the nails for application. 
  1. A bad quality nail polish or base coat could cause your nail paint to wear off immediately or in a matter of a few hours. 
  1. If you have applied a thick nail polish coat or haven’t given each of the layers enough time to dry then it can cause immediate cracking and chipping away. This could be one of the biggest missteps. 
  1. You simply went in to use hot water in a shower or while doing a chore immediately after application. 

How To Prevent Nail Polish From Peeling Off Immediately?

One of the primary ways you can avoid immediate nail polish peel-off is by following proper prepping steps, using a good quality base coat, and giving enough time for your nails to dry. 

Read on to find tips that could help you with the situation. 

Tips To Prevent The Situation

  • Clean your nails: This one goes with any situation there is. Wash your nails, remove any previous nail paints and clean off the excess oil. 
  • Right application process: Apply thinner coats and for your nail’s sake, give them time to dry.
  • Leave your nails for some time: If you have urgent chores that involve water, wear gloves to protect nails or delay the task at hand. 
  • Use quality products: Get a good base coat product that can help your nail polish to last longer. 

Situation 2 Of 5: Nail Polish Peels Off In One Piece

The common reasons for nail polish peel-off are usually improper prepping of nails or incorrect curing methodology. If your nail polish peels off in one piece, a larger reason could be the curing process and the condition of your nails. 

Why Does My Gel Nail Polish Peel Off In One Piece?

Oily nails plus an incorrect curing process could result in the horror of nail polish peeling away in only a few days or hours. Here are some reasons why it happens:

  1. You haven’t cleaned/ washed your nails properly before the application of the nail polish. The natural anatomy of nails makes them oily and prone to soaking in a lot of moisture. Unfortunately, this doesn’t go well with nail polishes and could be a problem.
  1. The UV LED light is not strong enough or you have placed the nail under a wrong spot during the curing process. 

If your lamp is old and not strong enough to do the job then you will have to adjust curing times. Also how you are placing your nails underneath also matters. 

Note that curing is a very important step, doing it wrong could be a nightmare. 

  1. The gel nail polish you are using is either applied thick or has gone bad. You have probably rushed the process and applied thicker layers or you haven’t checked the product – that must have gone bad. 

How To Prevent Nail Polish From Peeling Off In One Piece?

Preventing nail polish to peel off in one piece requires you to have patience in both the prepping time and application. Plus, you need to have the right tools for curing so that the nail paints can be locked in perfectly.

Here are some tips that are must-haves to avoid chipping away your nail paints in one piece. 

Tips To Prevent The Situation

  • Get rid of the oil & hydration: For nail paints to properly adhere, your nails should be dehydrated and have a proper pH balance. A good nail primer could be a mix of isopropyl alcohol mixed with acetone. 

This not only extracts moisture but helps in a good pH balance that allows accurate application and long-lasting nail polish.

  • Spend on a Quality LED light: This is very important. Curing is a focal step in the manicure process. Hence, you need the latest LED lamps for them to lock in the nail paints. 
  • Save yourself from the cuticles: Yes! Applying nail paints to the cuticle area could be a disaster too. 

As nail paints don’t adhere to the skin, nail paints lift off easily from the cuticle area also taking the nail polish along. This could result in peeling in one piece. 

Situation 3 Of 5: Nail Polish Peels Off In Sheets

This is another likely situation where your unclean, not so buffed nails can cause a peel-off. The coming off in sheets could also be due to a quick shower right after application. 

Or more rightly so, it could be a result of your impatience during the process. Here are two measure reasons for what could be happening.  

Why Does My Gel Nail Polish Peel Off In Sheets?

Your nail paint could be peeling off in sheets for either one of the reasons below: 

  1. You applied thick coats of nail polish without proper curing time. Thick coats could mean that your nail polish hasn’t adhered properly or blended in with the individual sheets of paint. 
  1. The non-compatibility of products could be another reason. You need to ensure that the products you use for base coat, color and sealing are all chemically going together. Any mismatch here could cause peeling.

How To Prevent Nail Polish From Peeling Off In Sheets?

Much like previous situations, good prepping time and patience could help you lead a happy manicure journey. Here are two bits for this scenario: 

Tips To Prevent The Situation

  • Apply Thinner Layers: Don’t rush to gob on the polish. With each thick layer, you are not allowing enough drying time. With thinner layers, each coat blends in and sticks to the nail well. Also, it saves all the big-time drying of it. 
  • Spend some time reading labels: Look into the ingredients, research, read reviews to get the best set of products that are compatible and go a long way. 

Situation 4 Of 5: Nail Polish Peels Off After Shower

By now we have understood that nails are always thirsty. They soak up water from all sides – that is from the nail bed to the nail surface. All visible areas of a nail absorb water. 

As facts state, healthy nails constitute 18% water and 5% oils. 

However, these healthy tales are no good to nail polishes. Read on as we explain why that is so. 

Why Does My Gel Nail Polish Peel Off After Shower?

While many of us believe that the seemingly tough coats of nail polish don’t let anything through. It is false. 

  1. Regular nail polishes are permeable. Water molecules are very small and can easily seep through the layers of your nail polish. The absorption is less than bare nails but it does happen. 

Now imagine, you are hours in the shower letting those freshly manicured nails soak. You can visualize it already!

  1. Daily wear and tear already make your nails very vulnerable. To top it off 10-15 mins in the shower means water travels from the top to the bottom of the nail plate causing the bond between your polish, nail, and its edges to detach. And so the big peel off. 

That’s not a good place to be in!

How To Prevent Nail Polish From Peeling Off After Shower?

Now that we know, the side effects of a good long shower. Time to follow some easy-to-do tips to prevent the situation.

Tips To Prevent The Situation

  • Get non-permeable nail polishes: Getting good non-permeable, waterproof nail polishes can help you avoid this situation entirely.
  • Avoid the soap on the nail surface: If you can,  leave out the nail areas from a soap wash sometimes. Frequent soap washes might just reduce the longevity of the paints. 

That being said, clean the inners of your nail with alcohol swabs to be on the hygienic side. 

  • Use gloves: If your chores require water-intensive work or you shower for longer hours. Find a way to protect your nail from exposure by wearing gloves. 

Situation 5 Of 5: Nail Polish Peels Off After One Day

This one is no less than another nightmare. And on a side note, you should be getting a possible degree in understanding the reasons your nail polish could peel off.

But this degree would be worth the looks and money. 

So if your nail polish is peeling off after one day, the reasons could be very much alike.  

Why Does My Gel Nail Polish Peel Off After One Day?

Here’s a list down of why it happens: 

  1. You haven’t dehydrated your nails or have used a cuticle oil or lotion that has caused ample moisture for nail polish to just slip off. 
  1. Confusing the base coat with the topcoat and vice versa could be another mistake you might be making. Plus a low-quality base coat or not using one at all could also result in your nail polish peeling off in a day. 
  1. Not having enough knowledge of the application and prepping process could be another major contributor. 
  1. Simply not taking care of your nails post a good manicure. This means being careless while finding things in a bag to maybe exposing them to water and other harsh chemicals. 

How To Prevent Nail Polish From Peeling Off After One Day?

From the preparation time to the post-phase of a manicure, care is all your polished nails seek from you. We believe the following few tips could be of great help.

Tips To Prevent The Situation

  • Use a nail dehydrator: Clear up all the oil from the cuticles and nail plates. You can look into good dehydrators on amazon. This allows good prep of your nail and helps the polish to adhere better. 
  • Take care of your nails: If you have spent a $20+ bill on your manicure, you better be taking care of it. Seal up the edges of your nails, use good products and always try to keep your nails safe from scratchy accidents.
  • Go to an expert: Honestly, manicure and nail art is an entire science in itself. You have to use the right products with the right techniques and tools. This is hard to master! So go to a professional manicure specialist and get your nails done. 

Some Other Situations And Solutions

Following are some other situations that become a struggle when it comes to nail polish application. 

Nail Polish Peel Off Base Coat

If you are the one who seeks ease, then peel-off base coats are made just for you. They allow you to use any kind of nail polish with the added ability to remove it without any chemical use.

However, some say that peel off can quickly get off your nails. This isn’t true! Just like any other nail polish application, the peel-off ones need ample prepping and application time. Once this is done right they last for up to a week. 


A common problem with a peel-off base coat is that it might damage your nail surface. Anything that has “peeling” involved seems to involve some amount of damage. But you can easily avoid this situation.


  • Peel-off base coats usually leave a white residue on the nails. Don’t confuse it with the remains of the base coat itself and trying to peel it. This will cause more damage. This residue washes off with soap and water. 
  • If your base coat isn’t peeling off in one go or big pieces, then don’t force. Use techniques like putting your hands in bearable hot water to loosen the bonds. 
  • Try to start peeling from the cuticle to the ends/ tips of nails to reduce any flaking. 

Frozen Nail Polish Peel Off

This situation could go two ways. It’s either that the nail paint you have got is frozen or the nail polish has just become thick and dry. Both situations are not ideal. 


Your nail polish could be frozen because someone would have advised that it adds to the life of the nail paint, or it could also be because the temperature in your region might just be chillier. 


You need nothing else but a bowl of warm/hot water to immerse the nail polish into. Once you do that, the nail polish might be runny again. At times, a few drops of acetone or nail polish remover also helps in the thinning of thick nail polish.

Why Does My Uv Nail Polish Peel Off

The use of UV and LED lamps is a crucial step in the manicure process. If your nail polish peels off even after its use there could be a few possible reasons. 


It could be highly possible that your UV isn’t strong enough, has extended curing time, or isn’t reaching all corners of your nails. Moreover, hydrated, oily nails could be another reason that your UV nail polish might just peel away.


Modern-day technicians are replacing the UVs with the use of LED lamps because they are more flexible and efficient. The shape of LED lamps allows that each part of a nail is reached and the curing process is done right. 

Nail Polish Glue Peel Off

Nail Polish glue is often used in the manicure process to bind artificial nails or provide for a barrier in the application process of paints. 


Getting nail polish glue to peel off can become a struggle as they turn stubborn. Sometimes, the product used is very strong and the entire process of taking them off becomes a tough fight to win.


Two easy fixes to easily peel off nail polish g by immersing your nails in lukewarm/hot water to break up the bonds. Second, you can use a soapy solution to gently rub off the glue. Moreover, you can also use a dip of acetone, to make the peel-off easy. 

Nail Polish Peeling Off After 1 Week: Is That Normal?

The usual lifespan of any regular nail polish should be between 3-4 days or extendedly up to a week. So yes, it is completely normal for your nail polish to peel off after one week. 

However, if you have to spend money on a good manicure and get a polygel or gel nail paint done, it should last for longer. If you are still facing the problem of flaking then the reasons can be vast and extensive. 

Oily nails, improper application methods, low-quality products – all could lead to early wearing off of your nail polish. Plus if you are not taking good care and having your nails bump into various accidents, then a week after peeling off is completely normal. 

Recommended Nail Polish That Won’t Peel Off

Good quality nail polish is one of the greatest reasons you would know for your nail polish to remain intact for days. 

We have listed down the top-listed nail polishes from Amazon that won’t peel off. 

Morgan Taylor Professional Nail Lacquer

morgan taylor professional nail lacquer

The professional color paint is very compatible with other wear bases and topcoats. It gives absolute shine and stays intact for five days which is a decent day count for regular nail paint. Plus point, the nail polish has a speedy drying time. 

Wet n Wild 1 Step WonderGel Nail Color

wet n wild 1 step wondergel nail color

This one can go up to five days without the need for a base or topcoat. Two smooth swatches of the polish with a wide toothbrush and you will be ready to flaunt a flawless nail look. 

OPI Nail Polish, Infinite Shine Long

opi nail polish

Easily available on Amazon, O.P.I nail polishes are one of the highest-rated ones. The nail paint has a home gel formula that doesn’t require any special curing lights. It’s a nice thick and rich nail polish that lasts for up to 11 days.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat

sally hansen insta-dri anti-chip top coat

Sally Hansen has some durable ranges of nail polishes along with this extra-resilient anti-chip top coat. It is said to dry any nail color within 30 seconds and leaves a no-flakey shine for up to 10 days. The topcoat has a double UV filters formula protecting the nail color for the long haul.

Eternal 5 Collection

eternal 5 collection

Eternal nail polish range is another popular pick on Amazon. With very good pigmentation and coverage, the nail polish stays for a good long time. It is also important to note that it is very compatible with different kinds of topcoat gels. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to a few questions that you might still have.

Does Nail Polish Come Off Clothes In Wash

Yes! A good way to go is by first removing the polish with a remover followed by washing it with soap. However, do test your fabric for discoloration.

Does Nail Polish Come Off Jeans

Once dried, you can lightly scrub off the nail paint off your jeans using a soft brush. Then wash off the residue with water.

Does Nail Polish Come Off Bed Sheets

Depending on the fabric you can use a remover to do this job followed by a wash with soap or detergent.

Does Nail Polish Come Off In Water

Yes. If your nail polish is permeable, water can be absorbed by your nails causing the nail polish bonds to break and peel off.

Does Nail Polish Come Off In The Pool

A long time in the pool can cause your nails to soak up water causing the nail polish to come off. Additionally, pools have cleaning chemicals that can cause the nail polish to fade away further.

Does Nail Polish Come Off In The Washing Machine

Nail polish can come off or fade in water and soap. So yes it can come off in the washing machine.

Does Nail Polish Come Off In The Dishwasher

Soaps have harsh chemicals in them that cause the nail polish bonds to break away. Nail polish can start to chip away in the dishwasher.

How To Make Nail Polish Peel Off Skin

Use acetone or easily available nail polish remover to take off the nail paint. Moisturize your skin later as it might cause dryness.

Closing Words 

Good-looking nails are something we all yearn to have. We all spend good amounts on manicure items and don’t want to end up with the question of “why does my nail polish peel off”. 

After reading all the above, you are now aware that it’s natural for nail polish to peel off but certain techniques, products, and precautions can help extend the life. 

A word of advice would be to go to a professional manicurist for getting your nails done. The professional knows the tactics, right products as per your nail kind and can give you a nail look that would last long. 

If you decide to still do it home, take your notes!

Katharyn Riedel

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