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Nail Stickers
Credit: Ridofranz/Getty Images

I'm a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my nails. Since I started getting regular manicures in high school, I've always been quick to ditch a nail tech if I didn't leave looking flawless. But after years of searching, I finally found my go-to people in both New York and Toronto, however, that doesn't mean I haven't faced my fair share of salon nightmares.

When I wore acrylics many moons ago, I've had manicurists try to remove them — and probably the top layer of my nail — by using old credit cards. Other times, I've been cut, gushed a little blood from a hang nail, and once, I even left with swollen cuticles on my thumb. But nothing was as bad as when my nail bed bled.

At the time, I had just moved, and was on the hunt to find a new salon. Since I wasn't too familiar with my new neighborhood yet, I did a quick search on Yelp and came across a place that seemed decent. There were one or two reviews of people complaining about a bad experience, but I naively brushed it off, not knowing what was in store for me.

The following day I made it to the salon and was pleasantly surprised to see it was busy and well-kept. I had on gel polish and was getting another gel manicure, which meant that the nail tech would need to remove what I had on with acetone, then lightly buff my nails to apply the new color — no surprises there. Everything was going fine, and for a moment, I even felt like this place could become my new spot, right up until the point where it was time to apply the new polish.

This particular manicurist decided to go to town buffing the nail on my left index finger — for what reason? Only God knows. At first, I thought she was removing leftover polish, so I let it slide — until it became painful. I squirmed and told her to stop, but she continued, using lighter strokes. I quickly pulled my finger away again, and she briefly paused to shape the tips of my nail, but then went for my nail bed once more. She finally got the hint once she drew blood, and needless to say, I was pissed.

Once I got home, I cut my nails down, wrote a scathing Yelp review, and applied two coats of OPI's Nail Envy Nail Strengthener. But my nails still looked torn up underneath the clear polish, and an opaque shade couldn't hide the bumps in my nail bed. Being as meticulous as I am when it comes to my nails, I knew I needed to find a way to further protect my nails, while also making sure they looked somewhat decent. So I decided to rummage through the beauty closet of the publication I was working for at the time to see what I could find. And that's where I discovered Color Street's Polish Strips.

Made from 100% real nail polish, these strips instantly made my nails feel stronger and look smoother. They also gave me the freedom to enjoy gorgeous, salon-quality designs — without paying salon prices — while still protecting my nails from any further damage.

To apply, I started off by pushing down my cuticles and painting on another coat of Nail Envy to help nourish my brittle nails. Once that dried, I used the prep pad included with the kit to remove any oil or residue on the nail. Then, I applied one strip to each nail, filed off any excess from the tips and sides, and I was good to go — nothing else required. "Color Street strips are base, color and top coat all in one," the company's CMO, Bill Boraczek, tells me.

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Color Street offers a plethora of colors, glitters, and designs, but my all-time favorite has to be Flora Good Time. The intricate art is better than anything I've gotten done at a salon, and I got tons of compliments on my nails while I was wearing this design.

What's even better is the fact that the product lasted me about two weeks before it started to chip, which gave my nails a decent amount of time to start growing out. "While nails are healing you want to use things that don't require force or pressure to remove," manicurist and owner of Bed of Nails salon Candice Idehen tells me, which exactly what Color Street offers. Once I was ready for a fresh set, I simply used everyday nail polish remover on a cotton pad, and voila, my natural nails were already starting to look better.

It's been over a year since my manicure from hell, and thankfully my nails are in great shape today. So while I no longer need to use Color Street's polish strips to help protect my nails, I still wear them between salon appointments. Not only because they're convenient and non-damaging, but because they make my nails look so damn good.