If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know I have a crazy obsessions with nail polish. The downfall? I seem to be allergic to anything with toluene or formaldehyde in their formulas, which means many popular brands like Essie and Opi are a no go for me. Luckily, I’ve found healthier takes on trendy polishes in Butter London, Jessica and Zoya. I love experimenting with different colors and even glitter polishes.
Recently, for Valentine’s Day, I took my own advice and headed to the salon to treat myself to a professional manicure. I usually give myself the mani-pedi treatment. After going freelance 100 percent, I can’t seem to ration spending $35-$40 on nails every week or so like before. Instead, I invest 2-3 hours of my time in a DIY pampering version. However, for Valentine’s Day, I did something a little different. I requested a little heart be drawn on my nails. Though I love to experiment with nail color, I was never one to fall into the trend to include designs and art on my nails. But that little golden heart on my ring fingers made me realize that looking down at it made me happy. However childish that may sound. So I started browsing. I’m not an artist, so wasn’t sure doing that myself would work out as nice.
I decided to experiment with the Essie Nail Sleek Sticks stickers. I figured $10 was a small price to pay for cute nail art in half the time that it would take me to do a DIY mani-pedi. I soon realized that wasn’t the case. Though I loved the bling that came with my new cute nail stickers, they were a mission and a half to put on. The filing way the excess piece of the sticker took forever. I ended up opting to cutting it off with a nail clipper by the time I got to the second hand instead of trying to file away the sticker. Then when I was done, which took about an over, and I did anything remotely normal, like scratch my knee or anything else that involved my nails, I noticed the edge of the sticker begin to wrinkle. It looked like smudges on all the edges of my nails. I was able to pullet back into place, but after some FaceBook suggestions for friends to add a clear topcoat to make it last longer, I thought I had my answer. WRONG! The second the clear polish made contact with the sticker, the entire thing wrinkled. It provided some cool texture, but definitely didn’t look like the sleek, blinded out, trendy look I was going for. I might try these one more time to see if it lives up to the hype, but right now I’m giving it two thumbs down as it didn’t even last a week before they began to chip. I have a longer nail life when I use Butter London or Zoya regular polishes.
Since I’m a People StyleWatch magazine, Style Hunter, I was recently sent the Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Strips Nail kit. This came with a mini LED light , timed perfectly for 30 seconds for each nail, polish strips, 1 Gel top coat, 2 nail cleanser pads, and a cuticle stick, nail file & buffer. Again, like with the Essie stickers, filing away the excess was difficult, though not as tough as the Essie ones. I ended up cutting the excess with a nail clipper, though these were a lot easier to put on. Sometimes while I stretched it to reach the tip of my nail smoothly, the extra piece would just tear off. That was a lot better than the thickness in the Essie stickers, which were difficult to take away the extra piece. I was sent the kit in the Shall We Dance color, which is a light nude/neutral color with a hint of a blush pink. On my skin tone, it looks more like I have a nice top coat on. I love that the gel top coat makes the gel strips extra glossy. They feel think and like they will last. They also don’t wrinkle as the Essie ones did. I’ve never done Shellac, but have been told by people who’ve seen them on me that they resemble a Shellac manicure. They were easy to put on and took me about 30 minutes. I’m sure the next time I do this, it’ll be a lot quicker because I’ll know how to do it. You do have to put the top coat on one nail at a time to be able to place under the LED light, but it wasn’t much of a hassle at all. I like the way these look a lot and will definitely be using them again. I think it’s a great option now for the summer months when beach vacations are the norm. They will probably last a lot longer during a beach get-away and not chip. They’re meant to last two weeks, I’ve only had them on for a few days now, but they still look as glossy and perfect as they did the first day. This was a great experiment and I’ll definitely be adding other colors to my rotation. The starter kit sells for about $30 and you can find them at Target, Walgreens, or many other drugstores or variety stores. Though the starter kit is a bit of a higher price point, the nail strips sell for about $14 and include 16 polish strips, gel top coat, nail file, cuticle stick and cleaner pads. It’s a budget-friendly way to get a long-lasting mani in half the price and less than half the time it would take you at the salon. If you want to take a look at what you’ll be in for, here is Sally Hansen’s tip sheet on how-to get the perfect look.
What are your thoughts on the new nail stickers trend? How about the DIY gel nail kits? Which ones have worked for you and which ones have been a huge bummer? What are your tips to making them last? Do you like the more classic nail look or is the new bling and nail art thing just making your digits happy? How does your job feel about extreme nail art, glitter or bling?