I am not patient. I do not read directions. I am not capable of meticulously applying 10 fussy little nail stickers. But, as beauty trends come and go, I keep attempting to conquer them, which invariably gets me into sticky situations.
Nail stickers, or decals, are often crafted of real nail polish and, in the case of every brand I tried, stick onto nails for an instantly dry manicure in a variety of intricate patterns or classic solid hues.
Application was consistent for all the decals I tested: Push cuticles back, swipe nails with alcohol or nail-polish remover and then apply the appropriate-sized sticker to each nail, folding any excess sticker over the tip of the nail and removing excess material by filing downwards with an emery board.
Some of the brands I tried really stuck while others really stunk. Here’s the scoop…
Maybelline Color Show Fashion Prints Nail Stickers, Limited Edition
Friday night is date night, but somehow, between working, taking care of the kids and other urgent items on my to-do list (like picking my nail-sticker pattern du jour), I ended up in the front seat of my husband’s car, applying Maybelline Color Show Fashion Prints on the way to a sushi spot for dinner. Typical.
Maybelline’s nail-decal set includes 18 stickers for $6.99, a nail file and a cuticle stick. The stickers were easy enough to apply from the co-pilot’s seat and my husband threw only a quick sideways glance my way as I went to work sticking, folding and filing. The print I picked, “Midnight Lace,” was chic and simple to apply.
Maybelline’s decals come in a range of patterns that can be removed by simply peeling them off, which, as a bonus, provided entertainment for the car ride home.
Essie’s Sleek Sticks
Essie’s nail decals are, in a word, stunning. These UV-cured nail appliqués are available in an array of designs that far outshine the competition.
I opted for “Embrace the Lace,” a nude lace pattern that caught the attention of one my sons right away. “Your nails look purr-ty,” the 4-year-old declared. Why, yes they did.
His respect for my pretty patterned mani disappeared quickly later that night when, elbow deep in homemade cookie dough, one of my decals went missing.
This sums up my experience with Essie’s Sleek Sticks. Much like the chocolate chip cookies I made that night, the pleasure of indulging ends far too soon. At about $10 per package, Essie’s Sleek Sticks are perfect for special occasions but mine didn’t hold up well to the demands of daily wear. To be clear: I love Essie’s Sleek Sticks mostly because the patterns are simply gorgeous. I recommend applying them right before the big night out and not expecting the decals to last as long as some of the other nail stickers on the market.
OPI’s Pure Lacquer Nail Apps
Never to be outdone in the nail product department, OPI created their own collection of polish strips which, admittedly, come off a bit more high end than the drugstore variety. OPI’s Pure Lacquer Nail Apps include a range of prints, think leather and metallic zebra, that are pretty cool. Compared to Sally Hansen, the OPI Pure Lacquer Nail Apps are a tad easier to apply as the strips themselves are more pliant (no need to warm them in your hands before application). Sold for $7.99 at Nail, Etc. or head to OPI.com to find a retailer near you.
Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips
Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips were the first nail decals to catch my attention a few years back. Sold for about $10 at local drugstores and super stores, these DIY strips are made of real nail polish and are available in both a range of patterns and solids. To apply, simply remove the strip, swipe nails with polish remover and apply the strip to natural, clean nails. Application is fairly straightforward but, after tons of practice, following a few simple steps will make the process truly doable.
First, warm the strips slightly by rubbing them between the palms of your hands. Don’t tear the strips, rather use an emery board to remove any excess product that goes beyond the edge of your nail. A more complicated but of the moment option is the newer Salon Insta-Gel Strips from Sally Hansen. Similar in concept to Nail Polish Strips, these Insta-Gel Strips serve up a two step gel manicure that is fast, easy and fuss proof. A tip: Don’t forget to buy the starter kit and not just the strips, as the gel strips require the use of an LED light to set. The starter kit is sold for about $29.99 at Ulta.
L’Oreal Colour Riche Nail Lingerie
I stumbled upon L’Oreal’s Nail Lingerie at Walgreens and paid about $8 or so for a set of 18 stickers. Nail Lingerie promises to add dazzle to both nude nails as well as already polished nails. The stickers were fairly easy to apply and seemed to have a strong adhesive but, try as I may, I just couldn’t get them to really lay flat on my nails without buckling or bubbling.
While the packaging promises that the stickers will last up to 10 days on nails, I took mine off at the end of the night because, frankly, my nails look better naked.
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