I am a big fan of nail polish strips. I have tried them from lots of brands – Sally Hansen, Innoco, even OPI had them for sometime, and now MAC. What I am NOT a fan of is nail stickers. I hate them! For someone with narrow nail beds and a strong C-curve (my nails are skinny, very rounded and not at all flat) it is impossible to get any nail sticker to apply correctly. That’s why I love any strips that are actually made of nail polish – they are thin, they are flexible, they bend, and you can even stretch them to fit your nail if necessary! Too big? Just trim them down first, or clean them up after you apply them with a brush dipped in acetone (just as you would clean up from a regular mani).
When MAC released it’s Simpson’s collection last month, many people complained about the nail strips. I heard from more than one person that they were disappointed with the cast of characters that appeared on their nails. Some people wanted more Marge. Some wanted more Bart or Lisa. I found a way to use all of the characters, so I wanted to share that with you. Coincidently, my way also doubles the amount of strips you can use, thereby making the MAC strips much more affordable - MAC strips are $16.50, where as most Sally Hansen strips are under $9 and I have even seen some in new packaging that is closer to $5. I’m also going to tell you how to make them last longer, so you can enjoy your pretty nails for as long as possible!
How To Apply Nail Strips
- First, clean up your cuticles. If you intend to wear nail polish strips for as long as possible, you will want to clean up your cuticles first! Otherwise, as your nail starts to grow out your “cuticle gap” will be very obvious. Cleaning up your cuticles (whether using a cuticle remover or just pushing them back) will also provide a cleaner surface that will prevent the nail strip from lifting.
- Prep your nail beds. Remove any left over polish with nail polish remover (I like Zoya Remove+). Wash your hands thoroughly with soap to remove any traces of oil.
- If you have ridges in your nails, use a ridge-filling basecoat. If you have weak nails, apply a treatment as a base coat. If your nails are in great shape, skip this step. This series by Loodie Loodie Loodie is fabulous for finding out what kind of treatment you need. Before I read it, I was using a strengthening treatment, when what I really needed was a moisturizing treatment. Switching made all the difference! If you apply a base coat, it must be 100% dry. If your base isn’t 100% dry when you apply your strips, it is very possible that you will actually damage your nail bed if you need reposition them – not only will you lift up the strip, you will lift up the base, potentially tearing tiny pieces out of your nail bed. I know this because I have done it and it’s not pretty.
- Open one set of nail polish strips. Most strips come in two packages, and each package usually contains 8 or 9 nail strips. Don’t open the second package at this time… our goal will be to do both of your hands with just one package. Take a look at the strips and compare them to your nails. Are the strips much longer than your nails? Good! Are there any that are too small? Set them aside, as you most likely will not use them.
- Line up the nail polish strips. Which ones are going to fit? Be sure to pick a strip that is slightly too big over one that is too small. Line them up in the order that you think you will use them. Examine the nail strips – essentially we will need to cut the strips in half. Check to see if they will be long enough for your nails. Most strips will come with an edge that is rounded for your cuticle, but the other edge works too… you just have to pull off the tab at the end of the strip when you are ready to apply it. See picture below *Note – if your nails are too long and you cannot cut the strip in half, you can still cut off part of the strip and use the smaller half on your toes!*
- Apply the nail polish strips one at a time. This is the good part, though it may take some practice at first. I would even suggest doing a trial run with some cheaper strips first. (I have an entire drawer filled with Sally Hansen Salon Effects that I buy on clearance at Target for less than $2. I can’t help it. It’s a disease.)
- Apply the strip to your first nail. Don’t start with your thumb. You can either cut the strip in half before you apply it, or trim the excess off once it’s been applied. Immediately apply the second half to the same nail on your other hand. At this time you want to make sure each strip is securely applied, go ahead and file off or trim any excess with a cuticle nipper, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect. For example, if the nail strip is slightly too wide and is overflowing onto your skin, or if you applied it too high and ended up with the nail strip on your actual cuticle, don’t fret, we will clean this up later.
- Move on to the second strip. If your nail strips have a pattern on them, make sure that they are all going the same way. For example, on The Simpsons strips, all the characters on my left hand are right side up to someone looking at my nails. All of the characters on my right hand are right side up when I look down on them. This is how I was able to ensure I that I had all the characters on my fingers! Somehow my entire right hand was Marge. That means that if I did not cut the strip in half at the beginning, all the Marge characters would have ended up in the garbage can!
- Repeat these steps for the other two fingers on your hand - but don’t do your thumbs yet. I like to keep my thumbs free until the very end, so that I can use them to securely press down on the nail strips.
- Cleanup! We are now going to clean up any excess the same way we would clean up a regular nail polish application – with a brush dipped in acetone! I didn’t figure out to do this for the longest time… Instead I tried the hard way to trim and file off any excess. That works fine for the free edge, but is very hard to do on the actual sides of your nails!
- Apply your favorite top coat. Be sure to cap the free edge. This will protect your nail strips from lifting or chipping too soon and will greatly extend the life of your nail polish strips! I like to use CND Air Dry.
- If your strips dry out don’t throw them away. Nail polish strips can dry out if they are not sealed tightly! Many people complain about nail polish strips drying out and throw them away. DON’T! Simply revive them with a quick coat of Orly Smudge Fixer! I learned this trick from MusicalHouses a few years ago and it works like a charm!
|Sally Hansen Salon Effects - an example of how you can apply from either end.|
I have been using half strips to do my nails for a long time (I believe I learned the trick from KarenD, but I couldn’t find the exact post) but I could never make due with just one package. When I realized that I could clean up any excess with acetone, that is when I realized that I will never have to use two packages of nail polish strips on one manicure again! Essentially I can custom fit any of the polish strips to the size of my nails without meticulous cutting them down! Thus my $16.50 MAC + The Simpsons “Cuticles” Nail Strips are now $8.25. And THAT I can live with!
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