Reader, this is important. To be fair, I think a lot of things are very important–Doctor Who, the perfect cup of peppermint tea, and dying my hair the brightest possible red allowed by my workplace. But for the past few months, the top spot on my list of “Silly but Important Things” has been held by Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. These things are amazing.
I’ve been getting compliments everywhere–mostly from women at cash registers when I hand over my card or cash, but also on the metro, the bus, from my friends, everybody. They love my nails. Where did I get them done? How long do they last? I have become positively evangelical about the glory of this product.
But what are they? Sally Hansen Salon Effects are, basically, stickers you put on your nails. They claim to be made of real nail polish, but frankly, I don’t care what they are. They’re dry as soon as you put them on, so there’s no smudging, they last for weeks, and if you use my secret trick, it’s about $4-$5 for a full manicure. They come in a bunch of different colors, as well as in several different shades of glitter and several fun patterns. I just discovered that they’ve come up with a holiday line, and to distract myself from buying each and every one of their holiday designs, I am telling you all about them instead.
Each box of Salon Effects costs between 8 and 10 dollars. They’re available at CVS, and probably other pharmacy/convenience stores as well, but I wouldn’t know, because CVS has the DC region on lockdown. They’re also available online, through Ulta.com and Amazon and, I assume, other places as well.
They come in a little box, roughly the size of a box you’d put a bottle of nail polish in, which, when you open it, is mostly empty. I’m sure there’s some sort of marketing at play, vis-Ã -vis the size of the box, but whatever. Inside, you’ll find a tiny little orange stick, a tiny little nail file–color-coded in different grades of roughness, overly-complicated instructions, and two foil-sealed packets. PUT ONE ASIDE AND DO NOT OPEN IT. I do not understand the magic that makes this work, but I’m fairly certain that exposure to air negates the stickiness of the polish strips. In addition to this wee box of wonder, you’ll need nail polish remover, cotton balls, and scissors. Also perhaps your own nail file if your nails are really in desperate need of shaping.
So. Here is what you do: First, shape and file your nails. Then, go around the nail beds with your tiny orange stick. pushing back your cuticle (don’t hurt yourself!) Next, even if your nails are polish-free, go over all of them with nail polish remover, pretty liberally. Alright. Ready? Open up the foil package–I find the orange stick occasionally helpful here–and line up each of the polish strips from largest to smallest. I tend to start applying them to my non-dominant hand, pinky first.
Here is the important trick, which will get you two manicures out of one package: provided your nails are not super long, the strips are long enough that you can cut them in half and do, say, both middle fingers from the same strip. Test if they’re long enough by folding each one in half, and checking if they’re longer than your fingernails. If they are, yay! You have just cut your cost-per-nail in half. Well done.
Now is the tricky moment of trying to match the width of your nails to the width of the strips. I tend to think that wider is better, as having extra nail peeking through on the sides makes me feel like I didn’t do a good job. So, pick your correct width, cut the strip in half, and remove the protective coating and backing. Careful: one side will be vaguely sticky. Next, position this strip on your nail with the bottom edge flush against the base of your nail, and press down the middle part. Does it look centered? Awesome. Stick the rest of it down onto your nail. Use the orange stick to really press down the sides and edges, especially toward the end of your nail–I usually pinch it for a few seconds. Then, using the teeny nail file they’ve provided, file off the part of the strip longer than your nail, by first bending it over completely, and then gently filing it off, filing in one direction only. Done. That nail is totally done, and you could go scrub a bathroom or wash dishes or fold laundry and your “nail polish” isn’t gonna budge. Repeat with the rest of your nails! And then, several weeks or months later, bust open that other foil packet and do the whole thing again.
There is a bit of a learning curve to this, but even the first time I did it, there was no chipping whatsoever for the first several days. Now, I can get them to last perfectly for over a week, no problem. The other cool thing about these is that, because they’re stronger than normal nail polish, my nails are incredibly resistant to breaking when I’m wearing them. Normal nail polish remover takes them off, though the glitter ones, like all glitter polishes, are a bit more stubborn.
So, have you tried these? What do you think of them? And, of course, which of the holiday ones should I get?!
Note: I have not been given anything at all by Sally Hansen to rave about this product. I am highly susceptible to bribery, if they would like to offer anything!