A close-up photograph captures a pair of perfectly manicured hands, delicately scrubbing matte nails with a soft brush under running water, revealing their original velvety finish.

How To Clean Matte Nails: A Step-By-Step Guide

Having beautifully manicured matte nails can be a great look, but keeping them clean can be a challenge. If you don’t properly care for matte nail polish, it can quickly become dull, stained, and damaged.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to keeping your matte manicure looking flawless: avoid water exposure when possible, use a gentle nail brush and non-acetone nail polish remover for routine cleaning, and reapply your matte top coat every few days.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about properly caring for matte nails from start to finish so they always look freshly applied.

Choosing the Right Matte Nail Polish

Consider ingredients

When selecting a matte nail polish, it’s important to read the ingredient list. Many quality matte polishes contain bentonite clay, which helps absorb oil and give nails a smooth, velvety finish. Silica and mica are also common ingredients that promote an even, flawless matte look.

On the other hand, cheaper formulas often rely on irritating chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Choosing a non-toxic formula made with better ingredients is crucial for healthy nails.

Avoid cheaper formulas

While it may be tempting to grab a $2 matte polish from the drugstore, these cheaper formulas often contain harmful ingredients and don’t apply evenly. According to nail care experts at The Nail Hub, higher-quality matte polishes made by brands like Essie, OPI, and Zoya apply smoother and contain less toxic ingredients.

Though pricier, investing in a salon-quality matte polish that’s free of nasty chemicals will give you better, longer-lasting results without damaging your nails.

Get the right finish

Not all matte nail polishes give the same flat, velvety finish. Some have a subtler matte look while others dry to a more stark, flat effect. If you want an understated matte manicure, sheer matte polishes from brands like Essie provide a softer matte finish.

But if you love the grittier, sand-like look, OPI’s Matte Top Coat transforms any polish into a richer matte. Experimenting with different textures and opacity levels allows you to customize the perfect non-shiny manicure.

Applying Matte Nail Polish

Prep your nails

Properly preparing your nails is crucial for achieving a smooth, even matte manicure. Start by filing and shaping your nails into your desired length and shape. Use a nail file to gently buff away any shine or gloss from your natural nails – this will help the matte polish adhere better.

Next, push back and tidy up your cuticles with a cuticle pusher or cotton swab dipped in cuticle remover. Finish prepping by thoroughly cleaning nails with nail polish remover to remove any oils or residue.

Roll the bottle before use

Give the nail polish bottle a good roll between your palms before applying the matte polish. This helps ensure the pigment is properly distributed so you get an even, consistent application. Rolling the bottle also prevents the matte particles from settling at the bottom.

Use thin coats

When painting on matte nail polish, it’s best to use thinner coats compared to regular nail polish. Thick coats will take longer to dry and are more likely to become streaky. Instead, dip the brush into the bottle and wipe off one side against the lip to remove excess polish.

Then gently swipe on a thin, even layer across each nail. Allow it to dry completely before adding another thin coat. Two to three thin coats are ideal for full coverage with a flawless matte finish.

Allow proper drying time

Matte nail polish requires longer drying time between coats – up to 5 minutes – so patience is key! Rushing the process can cause bubbling, smearing, and uneven texture. After applying each thin coat, let your nails dry thoroughly before adding the next layer.

You’ll know it’s ready for the next coat when it looks opaque, velvety and feels dry to the touch. Don’t be tempted to skip steps or impatience will show. Once completely dry, apply a matte top coat for added durability and sealing in the color.

Caring for Matte Nails Day-to-Day

Limit water exposure

Matte nail polish has a velvety finish that can be easily compromised by moisture. When washing dishes or showering, be sure to wear gloves to protect your manicure. Exposure to water can cause matte polish to become patchy or develop a shine in some areas.

Quickly dry hands and nails thoroughly after washing to prevent water damage.

Handle with care

The matte finish is more prone to chipping and scratching than shiny polishes. Be extra careful with your nails and avoid using them as tools. Opening soda cans, prying things open, and other rough activities can quickly lead to chips and dents in the polish.

If you do notice small imperfections, apply a little more matte topcoat to help disguise flaws.

Use cuticle oil daily

Hydration is key for healthy, beautiful nails that can properly hold polish. Massage a drop of cuticle oil around each nail and into the cuticles once or twice per day. Jojoba, vitamin E, and coconut oils are great options.

This helps condition the nails and cuticles, preventing cracking, peeling, and breakage.

In addition to regular oil massages, apply a hydrating hand cream after washing. Look for creams containing shea butter, glycerin, dimethicone or other emollients. Keeping the nails and surrounding skin supple will help the matte polish last longer before needing to be redone.

With some extra TLC, a matte manicure can last over a week without losing its charm! Just be gentle with your hands, limit water exposure, and keep nails hydrated. Matte polish requires a bit more maintenance than shiny lacquers, but the fashionable, eye-catching finish is so worth it.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll be rocking stunning matte nails for days. 💅

Cleaning Matte Nails

Keeping matte nails looking fresh and clean can be a bit tricky compared to glossy nails. Matte nail polish has a flat finish without shine, so dirt and oil tend to show up more visibly. However, with some gentle care and the right products, you can keep your manicure looking flawless.

Brush Gently with a Soft Nail Brush

Use a very soft-bristled nail brush to lightly brush away any surface dirt or residue. Avoid scrubbing too vigorously, as this can damage the matte polish. Gently swipe the brush underneath the tip of each nail to lift away grime. You can also try a makeup brush with super soft bristles.

Be sure any brush you use is clean itself to prevent further buildup.

Use Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover

If you need to do a deeper clean, reach for a non-acetone nail polish remover without oil, fragrance or other additives. The experts at Nailcare HQ recommend soaking a cotton ball and gently pressing it against each nail for 5-10 seconds. This will lift up stubborn dirt without eroding the polish.

Acetone-based removers are too harsh for matte finishes.

Avoid Rubbing Alcohol and Acetone

Do not use rubbing alcohol, acetone, or other drying ingredients like lemon juice. These can quickly dull and damage matte lacquers, destroying the smooth matte texture. Stick to gentle, non-acetone removers as mentioned above for the best maintenance routine.

Rinse and Moisturize after Cleaning

After cleaning matte nails, be sure to rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Avoid very hot water, as this can wear down the lacquer over time. Pat nails dry gently with a soft cloth. Apply a hydrating cuticle oil or nail cream like KBShimmer Cuticle Oil to condition nails and cuticles while replenishing moisture.

Follow these simple matte nail care tips, and your fabulous manicure will shine (or rather, won’t shine) for many days to come. With a gentle touch and the right products, keeping your nails polished and pristine is a breeze.

Maintaining That Fresh Matte Look

Reapply top coat every 2-3 days

Keeping your matte manicure looking fresh requires some maintenance. Unlike regular nail polish that can last over a week without chipping, matte polish tends to get dull and lose its velvety finish faster. Plan to reapply a layer of matte top coat every 2-3 days to revive that soft, powdery look.

This doesn’t take long – just swipe on another thin layer and you’ll be good to go.

Consider matte nail powder

If you don’t want the hassle of reapplying liquid matte polish so often, consider using a matte nail powder instead. These powders give you a similar flat finish but tend to be longer lasting. Apply them over regular nail polish every 3-5 days.

Some popular options are Dior Matte Nail Powder and OPI Matte Top Coat Powder.

Know when to remove and reapply

No matter what matte product you use, there will come a point when it’s time to take it all off and start fresh with a new manicure. Signs it’s time include visible tip wear, chips in the polish, oil slicks forming on the nails giving them a shiny look, and excessive dullness even after reapplying topcoat.

Generally, a matte manicure will last 4-7 days before needing to be redone.

The good news is removing matte polish is easy with regular nail polish remover. Then you’ll have a blank canvas to create your next on-trend velvety look!


Caring for matte nails requires a gentle touch and the right products to keep them looking freshly applied. Avoid excessive moisture, handle nails carefully, and use a soft brush with non-acetone remover to tidy up the manicure as needed.

Reapply matte top coat every few days and your nails will maintain that flawless, velvety finish.

With the proper matte nail care and maintenance tips, you can enjoy this polished yet understated look for weeks at a time. Just remember – be gentle, limit water exposure, and touch up the top coat regularly. Your matte manicure will stay looking fabulous and crisp.

Similar Posts