How to Still Get Salon-Level Nail Art When You Suck at Doing Your Own Nails
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Painting my nails is always an Instagram vs. reality situation. I pick a nail art design from the dozens of manicures I've added to my saved collection and always expect it to come out exactly same. But in reality, my polka dots look like blobs that have somehow ended up on my nail beds.
The good news? With a little help from nail stickers, I'm still able to get a manicure with salon-level nail art at home. These full-on wraps, decals, and foils come in practically every nail polish color and finish, from matte to glitter. The actual designs are impressive, too. Flowers? Gradients? Geometric lines? Yup, they all come in sticker form.
Sure, nails stickers are basically magic, but there is a technique to putting them on so they, you know, actually stay on your nails.
That's why I reached out to Hannah Park, specialist at Color Street to break down how to apply full-on nail stickers, strips, and wraps.
Your Nail Sticker Application Tool Kit:
Step One: Prep the Nails
Start off by cleaning up your nails. This includes filing your nails into your desired shape, pushing the cuticles back, gently buffing the nail beds, and wiping them down with a nail polish remover pad to remove any excess oils.
Step Two: Apply the Nail Stickers
Remove the clear film that covers the sticker or strip, then peel the strip from the backing paper. "You can remove the tabbed end for more sizing options," Park shares. "There are 16 total size options per hand." She recommends starting with your pinkies first and ending with your thumbs for the easiest application.
Next, align the rounded end of the sticker or strip to the cuticle (but not on it) and smooth it down until the nail is covered from the base to the tip.
Step Three: Stretch the Sticker to Fit
Once the sticker or strip is laying smooth on your nail bed, stretch it horizontally or vertically for a perfect fit.
Step Four: File Off Any Excess
If the sticker or strip hanging over your nail, you can file it down to size. Park says to crease the sticker over the nail first, then remove it with a nail file.
How Do You Remove Nail Stickers and Wraps?
When you're over your nail stickers or strips, taking them off isn't much different than getting rid of regular polish. Use nail polish remover or acetone and a cotton ball to gently loosen up the adhesive that's binding the sticker to your nail beds. But whatever you do, don't pull nail stickers, strips, and wraps off. Park says that peeling and picking at them may damage nails.
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The Best Nail Stickers, Wraps & Foils That Make DIY Nail Art Look Pro
Dashing Diva Gleam Queen Gloss Ultra Shine Gel Strips
There's a major con to nail art done with traditional polish: when you take it off, you're saying good bye forever to a design you've loved for the past week or so. That's where Dashing Diva's nails strips come in. The pack comes with solid, glitter, and a glass pattern that can be reused over and over again because they don't dry out.
To buy: $8; ulta.com.
China Glaze Nail Decals
Nail foils might be the hottest manicure trend on Instagram right now, but you can easily re-create the look by placing these decals on freshly-painted nails.
To buy: $6; ulta.com.
Incoco Nail Polish Appliques-Nail Art Designs
Love glitter but hate trying to scrub it off your nails? Just use these pink sparkly nail wraps instead.
To buy: $8; ulta.com.
Scratch Monochrome Nail Wraps
If you're into minimalist nail art, you'll be a fan of this monochromatic geometric line pattern. Wear it on bare nails for a subtle manicure or add one on your ring finger as an accent nail.
To buy: $10; ulta.com.
Color Street Polka Dot-Com Nail Strips
What sets Color Street's strips apart is the fact that they're made with actual nail polish. Wear these fun dots alone or layered over any solid base.
To buy: $11; colorstreet.com.
Olive & June All Eyes On You Nail Stickers
All eyes will literally be on your manicure with these decals. Inspired by one of LA salon Olive & June's most-requested nail art designs, these stickers are made with printable ink that doesn't smudge or fade. Customize your nail art by mixing-and-matching the decals in whatever way inspires you.
To buy: $8; oliveandjune.com.
Color Street Wanna Peace of Me? Nail Strips
Maybe tie dye sweatsuits aren't your thing but you still want to lean into the throwback fashion trend. Enter these tie dye nail strips.
To buy: $13; colorstreet.com.