My job requires me to have my hands in water for the majority of the day, scrubbing away cleaning aquariums. My nails and my nail polish do not like that. If I can get past the 2 day mark at work with out chipping it's a damn miracle! My manicure typically lasts about 7 days with out chipping (possibly longer but I get itchy for a new color around the 5 day mark) with out the water and about 3 days in the water before I get some minor chips. By day 5 in the water my nails look like hell but as I previously mentioned I can't stand having the same thing on my nails much past that any way.
Prep the nails. Remove all old polish, buff away any peeling, file away chips and hang nails.
Massage in Hard as Hoof strengthening cream to nails and around the nails. Let this absorb before moving on.
Base coat part 1. Apply one coat of Revlon Colorstay base coat to each nail. Let dry completely.
Apply 1 coat of color polish and let it dry completely. This will take a while but it's worth the wait.
Base coat part 2. Apply one thin coat of Orly Bonder and let dry.
Apply the rest of the color polish, let it dry completely between coats. I find my manicure is much more resistant to chipping if I apply thin coats and let them dry 100% between coats.
Apply top coat once everything is dry and rock hard. What top coat I use depends on what type of polish I put on (matte, glitter, holo, creme, etc).
Take a small brush or pointed q-tip and dip it in nail polish remover. Remove all polish from the cuticle and rub down the sides of the nail. This will leave the polish thinner at the edges and less likely to catch and rip off.