These seem to be the hot thing now... You know, these full cover nail strips... I'm seeing them everywhere, which is good 'cause they're a great idea. Nail art that requires almost no effort and lasts over a week without chipping. The most accessible of these nail appliques is the Sally Hansen line of Salon Effects strips which are available at all drugstores. I picked up a few of these a while back and hadn't tried them. Then I was sent this design and I thought it would be perfect for a low-maintenance Easter manicure, so I finally tried them and here are my results...
This design is called Cut It Out and it's a random arrangement of flowers and leaves in black against a white base. This photos was taken immediately after application. No topcoat.
The application of these is a little involved but not terribly difficult. If you've used Incoco strips, the application is pretty much the same, but if not, I'll explain it briefly.
The strips are pre-cut and come in two sealed blister packs inside the box. You do have to use both to get all the sizes you need for your manicure. At least I did. If you have wider nails, you might not need to open both sealed sets.
After removing all your nail polish and cleaning your nails (buffing is recommended on the package but I don't recommend it unless you have severe ridges), you select sizes that match your nail size and cuticle shape. One end of the strip is very curved, the other is more flat so you can get a better fit to your natural cuticle shape.
Once you select strips for all ten nails, you take the protective sheets off the back and end of the strip and align the bottom of the strip with your cuticle. Like the Incoco strips, you have to stretch them a little to eliminate wrinkles. So, once you've adhered the cuticle end onto your nail, you pull gently from the free edge of the strip while pressing and smoothing the rest of the strip against the nail, cuticle to free edge. This sounds more complicated than it is.
Once it's applied, you'll have some excess hanging over the edge of your nail. Use the included buffer/file and file vertically downwards (hold the file perpendicular to your nail instead of parallel) to remove the excess without peeling it up at the edges. If you file side to side like normal, it may cause it to peel up at the corners.
There's no dry time and since they're made of nail polish, you can remove them with nail polish remover when you're done wearing them. You can add topcoat for shine and it may extend the wear slightly, but I didn't and it's not necessary.
Compared to Incoco, these are thicker and not as flexible and there are not enough small sizes.
These do last a really long time and they don't chip, but there are a few downsides to them.
- The free edge always feels a little funny, like the strips are going to lift or peel. They don't feel smooth at the free edge.
- They don't seem to stick very well at the cuticle. For me, they peeled at the cuticles and would catch and lift when washing my hair... Very odd sensation.
- There were not enough sides to perfectly fit my nails. There weren't any sizes in between 'too thin' and 'too wide'. If you have smaller nails and narrower nail beds, you may have the same problem I did.
- They're a little thick and not as pliable as I was expecting, so it's harder to smooth out wrinkles and easier to tear them.
- They're a bit pricey at $10 for one manicure. A bottle of nail polish is about $9 for 30+ manicures, but a manicure with nail art will cost $20 or more at a salon, so 'pricey' is relative, I suppose.
No chipping but a decent amount of tipwear and slight outgrowth. You can see where they've lifted and torn off at the cuticle. In these pictures you can also tell which strips didn't quite match up with my natural nail shape, so there's either space or overlap on the sides.
One thing that I was quite surprised by was that they didn't get stained with Easter egg dye! Coloring Easter eggs normally destroys my manicure, but even the white base of these didn't get stained.
Another thing that I liked was that the large sized strips were the perfect size to fit my big toe, so you can have a coordinated pedicure. None of the strips really fit the rest of my toenails, but you can paint them in a coordinating color and it still looks cool. I'm still wearing these on my toes and they're in perfect condition except for a little outgrowth. You could probably wear these all summer and not have to redo your pedi.
Once you open the strips, you can't use them again. They start to dry out as soon as the seal is broken. I did find that they were still sticky enough to use two days later, but they wouldn't fully adhere. If you apply topcoat over the partially adhered strips, it will melt them just enough to get them to stay. That's how I did my toes. But you will end up throwing out half of the strips after your manicure just because there will be leftovers and they'll dry out.
There are a bunch of cool designs in the line, but some of them seem too plain to be worth $10. There are some solid colors and glitters and there are some designs like this one that can be duplicated or approximated with Konad. My top picks are Laced Up, Skinny Jeans, Girl Flower and Fly With Me.
So, overall, they're pretty nice: they last longer than nail polish, there are some really cool designs, they're easy to find and you can do them at home. Great for vacations, holidays and special events because you can have a cool manicure without having to book a salon appointment, touch it up or worry about it for about a week. Especially good for travel because there's no liquid or glass and you can put them in your carry-on. Application is a little involved but not necessarily hard. It may take you a few tries to get the hang of it.
And just yesterday I noticed a new display of designs at CVS. I can't remember what they were... but I haven't seen them anywhere other than CVS. I'll have to go take a closer look at them.
(This design was sent to me for review.)