Dry Nail Polish Appliques

In the February 2011 issue of NAILS Magazine, I ran across an ad for Incoco Dry Nail Polish Applique.  The concept intrigued me – 100% nail polish in a sticker-like strip that you apply to your nails.  Wow, what could be easier?!  I immediately ordered half a dozen colors.

I did some research and found out that, as a general rule, people liked these strips.  I also learned that you could find the Sally Hansen version at Wal-Mart.  You mean I don’t have to wait for the ones I ordered to try this stuff?  Off to the store I go!!   There were more than half a dozen designs and colors to choose from, and it was so hard to decide!  I picked up this gold glitter one.

A comment about glitters:  if you’ve ever tried sprinkling some glitter onto your nail polish, you’ve probably found out a few things: 1, it has a rough surface – which to me is irritating; I like my nails to be smooth or I tend to pick at the raised areas.  2, the glitter tends to chip off faster than plain polish does; and 3, it’s hard to get the glitter to stay right where you want it!  Seems like a lot of wasted glitter and it gets everywhere.   I’ve used glitter polishes and while they are better (I do have a favorite one from Sally Beauty Supply) they still aren’t quite the density of glitter I wanted.  I’ve also mixed glitter into my Light Elegance nail gel; and I can get a really nice, smooth surface.  But when it comes time to file that glitter off, it takes a lot of filing to get it all.  I’ve had much better success in that regard with the Pearl Ex powders, although that is more shimmery than glittery.  Pearl Ex in nail polish works great, though!

Alright, so I went and bought the Sally Hansen gold glitter one, and came home to apply it to my nails.  It’s important to do some prep before you stick the nail polish on; the nail plate (nail bed) must be filed to create a surface for the polish to stick to, and must be free from oils and residues.  Here’s a step-by-step process for getting perfectly prepped nails, adapted from my article in the upcoming GREEN issue of From Polymer To Art Magazine:

Wash your hands carefully, paying close attention to the cuticle and side walls of your nails.  With a wash cloth, push the cuticles back.  Dry nails very thoroughly, paying close attention to the cuticle area; cuticles can harbor moisture and cause the nail art to lift, as well as trap bacteria between the nail plate and the polish.

With a manicure stick or other cuticle instrument, gently push the cuticles back.  For skin that has grown over the nail, you may remove it with a 180 grit nail file, but do so gently:  Use the file in the same direction as the “grain” of the nail plate (up and down over the nail, not side to side across it).  File only until the stubborn skin is removed, and the shine of the natural nail has dulled. Over-filing the nail can potentially cause permanent damage to the nail plate, so be very careful.  Shape the free edge of the nail, using the file in one direction, either right to left or left to right.

Use the nail brush to remove the dust from your nails, paying close attention to the cuticle and side walls of the nail.  Wipe your nails with a lint-free wipe soaked in rubbing alcohol.  This will help dry any moisture on your nails as well as kill bacteria.

Alright, so the moment of truth:  applying the Sally Hansen nail appliques to my own nails!

Personally, I don’t want a nail full of glitter; I tend to prefer my colors along the free edge (the area that grows out past the surrounding skin).  So in order to get this gold glitter applique just at the tips, I had to cut them.  What to use?  Aha!!  My scrapbooking scissors!  I have a pair that is in a scallop shape.  That will give me the curve I need to do a French Manicure style.  And there’s a side benefit:  doing the nail applique this way, it only costs me about $3.00 for the full set, because I’m only cutting a strip about 1/4 inch wide from each of the appliques.  That means I can do my nails about 3 times with the same package of appliques.  Yippee!  Very economical.  I did do a coat or two of clear nail polish over the top, because I found myself picking at the corners of the appliques.  Slap my own fingers – I know better than that.  But it’s a habit.  So the polish over the appliques smoothed out the ever-so-slight bump where the applique began, and I stopped picking after that, because there was nothing to get my nail under.

The end result:  the picture here isn’t my nails on the first day – no, it’s been twelve days since I did my nails.  Twelve.  No chipping, no peeling.  My nails look as good as the very first day.  I am so thrilled with this stuff!

I was really excited when my Incoco ones arrived.  I set them out for the Monday Night Craft Groupies to use, and I’ll check their nails in a few days to see how their dry nail polish appliques held up.  (Maybe they’ll even let me take pictures!)  One of the complaints I heard most often was, “my nails are too short for this”.  Actually, doing a French style with these strips make even short, bitten nails look good!

If you’d like to read a really good discussion about these appliques (along with pictures of real people using them), here’s a link to a forum about diamond rings.  They have 15 pages of talking about these appliques.

If after reading my blog post, you go out and try these (or if you already know all about them and have been using them for years), leave a comment.  And if you have pictures – send them to me via email!  I’d love to hear how you feel about these nail polish strips, and I’ll post your pictures (with your permission) in my Flickr set.





3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Juli
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 10:28:13

    I have been using the Incoco nail strips for about three years now, and I LOVE them. Regular nail polish gets gooey and soft when it’s in contact with polymer clay (which is why we don’t use clear nail polish as a sealer for finished clay pieces) but the dry nail polish strips don’t react as much. I can wipe gooey clay off my nails and the polish stays shiny and intact. (If the clay sits on my nails for along time – like a couple hours – the polish will dull and soften, but it takes a LOT longer than it does with regular polish.) I just recently tried the Sally Hansen ones, and I like them just as much – and the patterned ones are great fun!


    • Charlene
      Mar 08, 2011 @ 10:30:31

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Juli! It’s great news to hear your results of using the dry nail appliques around polymer clay. I hope this will be help to clayers who would love to have nice-looking nails but who have given up hope with nail polish.


  2. Holly
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 06:02:50

    Thanks a bunch for the great tips! I’m going to try this weekend!


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