Fancy Nails

I like being slighty fancy. I'm not a big make-up wearer but I always do my eyes and put on blush. Sometimes, especially if I'm going out at night, I'll wear some lipgloss. I love having fancy hair but I don't usually curl it (mostly becuase I'm not willing to spend the time on it) so I have to rely on good haircuts and my mad blow-drying skillz. And, really, is there anything better in the world than a good pedicure??

The one thing I never, ever, ever do is get manicures and/or paint my nails. There are three reasons for this:

1. I've never really liked the way my weirdly shaped fingers looked topped off with color.
2. I love having short nails and thought it looked odd to have them painted when they were so short.
3. I have ZERO patience for waiting for my nails to dry.

Let's be realistic. I use my hands A LOT. I knit, I sew, I read, I clean my house, I talk with my hands (incessantly).  I simply cannot be forced to sit around for extended periods with my hands inert just so that they have some color on them.

*This is the part where the clouds part, the sun shines through, and the angels start singing...*

Enter Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips.

I don't know what kind of alchemy makes this happen but this is real nail polish that you peel off a backing, stick to your nails, and then go. It goes on dry and stays on for about two weeks. Best of all, if you want to be extra-fancy, the strips come in "designs" that make it look like you spent hours in a chair at a nail spa.

(Between us, some of the designs are a little... um... well... maybe "young" is the right word. But a lot of them are more understated and relatively appropriate for work.)

So, here in pictures, is my last application of Salon Effects and a few photos of the various designs I've tried so far.

What you get in the box: 2 sets of 8 strips of various widths; an emory board with three levels of coarseness; a wood cuticle stick.

Note that, if you open the package of strips, you have to use them within an hour or so or they start to "harden" and become unusable. They are, actually, nail polish.

Also note that, because my nails are so short, I use one strip for two nails - thus, I get two applications from each box!

(Sorry for the bad photo)
These are what the strips look like.

The first thing to do is to prep your nails. Clean them with nail polish remover to get rid of any oils or dirt, buff them with the emory board, and push back your cuticles.

Next, peel the clear cover from the front of the strip and then peel the strip off the backing. You'll be left with a little rectangular tab that you can use to handle the strip while placing it on your nail.

Place the strip on your nail by centering it and putting it as close to the cuticle as possible (even a little under it if you can). This is why prepping your cuticles is an important step. The Sally Hansen brand has a light adhesive so it's easy to pull up and reposition if you don't like how it landed on your nail the first time. However, once you press it down hard on the nail, it's pretty much in place.


Push the strip down, tucking it around the edges of the nail, against the cuticle. Using a pair of nail scissors (or other small snips) cut the excess strip from the end of the nail. I reserve this piece to do another nail. If your nails are longer, you probably won't be able to do this.

Wrap the excess over the tip of the nail then take the roughest part of the emory board and file off the excess strip.

Angle the file under the nail so as not to damage the polish at the tip.

I then use the flat part of the cuticle stick to press the edges of the polish strip to ensure that they're well adhered to my nail.

E voila!  Fun, "polished" nails with ZERO DRY TIME!

I believe that these 'cure' a bit over the course of an hour or so. I have noticed that I can pick at them easier right after I've done them but the longer they're on, the harder the polish seems to get.

Also, even though the box says you can remove these with regular polish, it takes an annoying amount of polish (and time) to make that happen. After my first application, I went to the beauty supply store and bought a bottle of pure acetone (the active ingredient in nail polish remover). Now they come off in a couple of swipes. :)

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite nails since discovering Sally Hansen Salon Effects:

This next one isn't Sally Hansen - it's a brand called Essie. While I loved the pattern (lace with a pink pearlescent undercoat), I found the strip too thick and difficult to use. The fit wasn't as clean as with the Sally Hansen brand and, because the design was raised, I found myself wanting to pick at it constantly.

I highly recommend trying polish strips if you want a quick, easy way to fancy your nails. The whole process takes me about 40 minutes. I pick a one-hour show on the DVR and by the time the show is over, my nails are done and, more importantly, dry.  Let me know if you try these and what you think!

- Alex

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