Nail art has come a long way from the days of yore when our grandmas applied matted oil paints to their nails and called it a day. These days, even a palette of nail varnishes isn’t enough to create the kind of nail art that can be Instagrammed. Also not required are the multiple trips to the nail salon to get professionally done nails. You can create high art at home with the help of the latest in nail art fashion.
Nail strips are the answer to all your nail decorating prayers. They’re easy to apply, come in various chemical and organic concoctions that are easy on the cuticles, double up as a creative DIY project, and give you professionally done nails that can help you nail those Pinterest and Instagram likes.
- How to Choose the Best Nail Polish Strips
- Top 10 Best Nail Polish Strips 2023
- 1. Best Overall Nail Strips: TOUGH GIRLS Nail Polish Strips
- 2. Best Lightweight Nail Strips: TailaiMei Store Glitter Cat Eye Nail Wraps
- 3. Best Premium Nail Strips: BornBeauty Glitter Nail Polish Decal Strips
- 4. Best Budget Nail Strips: mwellewm Glitter Gradient Color Shine Nail Polish Strips
- 5. Best Nail Strips for Nail Art: Augoog Nail Polish Stickers
- 6. Best Natural Nail Strips: SOCU Nail Polish Strips
- 7. BlueZOO Store Van Gogh's Starry Night Full Nail Stickers
- 8. AFSTEE Nail Polish Strips
- 9. Best Professional Nail Strips: SILPECWEE Adhesive Nail Art Strips - Solid Colors
- 10. Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips
- Complete Guide to Nail Polish Strips
- Final Words
How to Choose the Best Nail Polish Strips
There are various things to consider before buying a strip of nail polish stickers. You can consult this quick checklist to see if you’re on the right track:
A good nail strip sticker is composed of multiple coats of nail polish and should last as long as a professionally done nail job. Anything that lasts more than a week, or up to 10 days, is good to go.
Easy to Apply and Lightweight
The softer the nail strip, the easier it is to apply. The thinner the sticker, the easier it sits on your nails. Coarse and heavy stickers feel unnatural and heavy on your nails.
Most good brands these days offer self-adhesive strips so you don’t have to follow complicated steps or buy a separate glue gel to use the strips.
Most nail polish strips have a distinct smell that lingers for a while after you’ve applied the stickers. Go for the ones that are odorless or have very subtle odors. Nail polish strips that smell a lot indicate the use of excessive chemicals.
Go for strips that boast of as few chemical ingredients as possible. Avoid PVC, plastic, vinyl, and other synthetic substances if you can. Toxic chemicals can turn your nail bed weak and give it a yellowish and decaying appearance in the long run.
And now, let’s have a look at the top 10 best nail polish strips you can purchase online that also check all of the above boxes.
Top 10 Best Nail Polish Strips 2023
1. Best Overall Nail Strips: TOUGH GIRLS Nail Polish Strips
TOUGH GiRLS’ nail polish strips are inexpensive, not made of PVC or plastic, and manufactured in the USA. These strips are easy to apply, have a negligible odor, aren’t made of toxic chemicals, and can be removed with acetone. This brand offers 60 different colors and fun styles of nail polish strips to choose from. A few of the stickers are wide enough to go on the toenails! You can use a single strip to get both your hands and feet done. The stickers have staying power and last for almost 2 weeks without chipping when applied properly.
They’re a little thick and sit heavily on your nails. Trimming and filing them off after application is also a little difficult. If not applied properly, they tend to peel off easily so take care while applying these strips. If you’d rather choose something that will go on and off easily, you may want to consider the TailaiMei Store Glitter Cat Eye Nail Wraps. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about here, as even price wise they don’t burn a hole in your pockets.
- Not made with PVC/plastic
- Can be removed with simple nail polish remover
- Wide range of designs and colors to choose from
- Thick texture, heavy on the nails
- Difficult to trim and file
- Peel off easily if not applied properly
2. Best Lightweight Nail Strips: TailaiMei Store Glitter Cat Eye Nail Wraps
These nail polish strips work best if you apply a clear base coat before sticking them on. Although they are self-adhesive, they lack staying power unless you use the base coat trick. Also, you’ll want to cure them after application with a clear top coat. But the good news is that they’re easy to apply. They’re very thin and lightweight and you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything on your nails. They last about a week after which wear and tear sets in. They are very inexpensive and you get what you paid for.
These strips break easily and need to be handled with care. Strips are not as wide as are normally offered and if you have wider nail beds, you might want to avoid this set as most of these strips do not completely cover the entire nail base.
- Very thin and lightweight nail polish strips
- Easy to apply
- Easy on the pockets
- Require base and top coat to stay on
- Very delicate and break easily if not handled properly
- Narrow strips do not cover the nail
BornBeauty is a well-known nail polish brand and these strips have that well done, professional look about them. They are easy to use – just peel and stick them on. The strips are free of toxins and harsh chemicals, are soft on the nails, and made of eco-friendly materials. They also have long staying power. Especially when sealed in with a top coat, you’ll find them free of any wear and tear for a good two weeks. You might just opt to take them off yourself for a change of color or style.
For glitter finish strips, these are a little too transparent and you can see through them when wearing the lighter shades. The strips are also heavier than regular strips and feel a little uncomfortable. A few bad batches contain strips that break and peel off easily so beware of accepting faulty products.
- Eco-friendly, non-toxic
- Just peel and stick on
- Lasts for 2+ weeks
- Easy to remove
- No damage to nails
- Transparent strips and the glitter coating is see-through
- Sit heavy on the nails
4. Best Budget Nail Strips: mwellewm Glitter Gradient Color Shine Nail Polish Strips
These glitter gradient nail polish strips are a good place to start your journey with stick-on nails if you have never done it before. There’s plenty of material to work with and get a hang of the process with trial and error. The set is extremely affordable and also has a professional finish. For those who are fond of glitter or powder gel finished tips, this is a good purchase. The 14 different colors offered are amazing even if a few of those might never get used.
These strips feel a little sticky/gummy so you might want to cure them by applying a layer of clear nail polish. This performs the dual function of protecting the strips as well as doing away with the stickiness. Curing them under UV light gives even better results and they stay on for more than 12 days.
- Very easy on the pockets
- 14 lovely colors with glitter finish
- Have long staying power
- Feel a little gummy and uncomfortable
- Need curing with top coat or UV exposure to stay on for long durations
5. Best Nail Strips for Nail Art: Augoog Nail Polish Stickers
When applied as per instructions and sealed in with a top coat, these nail polish strips will last for a week without chipping even when you do a lot of heavy-duty lifting. Don’t stretch them too much while applying and they’ll stay on longer. Stretched decals tend to fall off earlier. They also take on a plasticky look when stretched too much.
From amongst the 300+ stickers in the package, you can create a lot of mix and match patterns. These also work out very cheap per strip when you divide the price per strip. As such, the key to making them work is in their careful application. Your mileage may vary based on how you use them.
- Easy to apply
- Thin and lightweight
- Lots of colors and prints
- Chip, break and fall off easily if not applied with care
- Have a synthetic look to them
6. Best Natural Nail Strips: SOCU Nail Polish Strips
These waterproof nail polish strips with a thick adhesive glue are easy to apply, last almost for a week, and can be removed with gentle reeling and wrapping action to get the stickers off the edges. They’re also made of eco-friendly materials and do not make use of any harmful toxins in the glue. Sealing them in with a UV topcoat will extend their staying power by about a week. The pack contains a wide variety of prints, textures, and colors that have a similar finish and feel to some of the expensive options out there.
The adhesive is quite strong and as a result, the strips feel too sticky and heavy. Also, the odor is quite strong and you may want to avoid this if you’re sensitive to strong odors. The non-glitter versions perform much better than the glitter strips so you might want to stick to the solid colored strips.
- Very affordable
- Easy to remove
- Extra strong adhesive glue
- Eco-friendly, no toxins
- Strong odor
- Strips feel very sticky and heavy
- Glitter strips chip and break easily
7. BlueZOO Store Van Gogh's Starry Night Full Nail Stickers
Add a dash of culture to your nails by honoring the great Van Gogh with your nail polish strips. These strips dare you to flash ‘The Starry Night’ on your fingers. And so you shall with BlueZOO’s saucy take on the famous painting.
These nail polish strips work well with both natural nails as well as artificial nails. The adhesive used is also of good quality and the application is simple and easy. The strips stay on for a long duration without chipping or breaking off. They’re also odorless and easy on the nails.
Although they stay on for more than 2 weeks, you can peel them off whenever you want without using a nail polish remover. These fun decals have a very professional look about them so you need not worry about looking tacky.
On the flip side – these need to be applied very carefully as they tend to fall off in the first few hours if the application is hasty or if you go anywhere near water.
- ‘The Starry Night’ on your fingertips
- Easy to apply
- Easy to remove
- Gentle on the nails
- The foil falls off easily if not applied properly
- Need to avoid water for a good while if you want them to stay on
8. AFSTEE Nail Polish Strips
This is an up and coming brand of nail polish strips and not many people are aware of it. But in all other respects, it is a top-notch product. These 15 sheets feature an eclectic mix of gorgeous jewel-toned colors, nudes, and cool blues and purples. The texture and finish are glossy and professional looking. Patterns on the strips are cute and aesthetically pleasing. The stickers are long-lasting, there’s no chipping in the interim, just nice shiny nails with lovely nail art.
On the downside, there are some problems with the adhesive. While some strips stay on for weeks, others just chip and fall off shortly after application. Quality control might be in order as not all stickers in the same strip have the same quality.
- Beautiful colors and designs
- Long-lasting strips
- No chipping
- Adhesive glue is a little problematic
- Inconsistent quality of strips in the same package
9. Best Professional Nail Strips: SILPECWEE Adhesive Nail Art Strips - Solid Colors
This pack contains 8 oft-used professional colors in solid tones, that have a sleek glossy finish usually sported by no-nonsense ladies who command power. So, if you’re looking for something to give a boost to your confidence without burning a hole in your pockets, go for these solid colored nail polish strips.
These strips are made of 100% nail polish and hence look top-notch. They can be applied and removed easily. A base coat and top coat application are advised for the best results. Avoid water for a good 4 hours after application to let the adhesive settle in for good. Stretch them out well while applying them so you end up with a smooth, wrinkle-free finish.
They’re a little harsh on your nails and leave your nail bed a tad dry. Also, if you don’t follow the application instructions carefully, you’ll end up with horrible looking nails in a day or two. The colors are much darker for real than the way they appear online so set your expectations accordingly.
- Made of 100% nail polish
- Easy to apply and remove
- Professional looking results
- Harsh on the nails
- Dry up the nail bed
- Peel off in a bad way when not applied properly
- Colors aren’t as shown online
10. Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips
Sally Hansen is a much admired brand in the US. This 60+ years old brand based out of New York has carved a niche for itself when it comes to nail polish strips. These nail strips are a godsend if you work with water constantly. They’ll last more than a week even after consistent exposure to water. This also points to the good quality of the adhesive used as well as the durability of the stickers.
Although applying these strips is easy and they’re quite odorless, the product doesn’t rank higher on our list because these strips are prone to chipping. They start getting chipped a day or two after application. For nail art and salon finish looks, this is a big no-no. There’s no point in the staying power of the strips if you end up looking like you need a trip to the salon after day 2! Removal of these strips also takes a little more effort than is the norm and lots of acetone.
- Easy to apply
- Beautiful patterns and colors to choose from
- Durable stickers
- Strong adhesive
- Prone to chipping
- Difficult to remove
Complete Guide to Nail Polish Strips
While we’ve tried our best to bring to your notice a good roundup of popular as well as up and coming nail polish strip brands, this list and guide would be incomplete if we didn’t point out the most widely popular nail polish strip brands available:
Incoco – This is a ‘Made in USA’ brand that’s quickly gaining popularity with all kinds of nail care experts and nail art influencers. It gets top marks for ease of application, quality of strips, being free of toxic chemicals, and lasting for up to 2 weeks! Although it costs higher than the average nail polish strip, it’s totally worth the money. You can sample this ‘Mermaid Tale’ nail polish strip by Incoco to check it out for yourself.
Color Street – #colorstreet brings up around 750k posts on Instagram, just a quarter shy of a million. This is a testament to the popularity of this brand in the nail polish strips niche. Based out of NYC, this brand is the go-to solution for easy nail art for novices and professionals alike. You can sample this ‘Dripping in Diamonds’ decal by Color Street to give them a try.
Lastly, how can any good list of nail polish strips be complete without the inclusion of some professional-looking ‘French Tips’? We recommend the Blulu French Manicure Nail Art Stickers to finish your nails with some classy French tips. If you’re looking for French tips in shapes other than the regular crescent, say curves and other fancy decals, go for the VAGA French Manicure Strips for more stylish cuts.
That rounds up our list of the top ten best nail polish strips that you can buy online. Now, let’s take a look at how to apply your newly-chosen strips and everything else you’ll need to know.
How to Apply Nail Polish Strips
Here’s an easy 9 steps guide to applying nail polish strips to get a nail salon like outcome.
If you are a beginner, follow the instructions on the package to a T to get the best results. The manufacturers know their product the best and it’s usually safe and smart to do it the way they recommend. If you have a little experience in the field, you’ll have figured out that there are a few basic steps to follow that ensure the best possible nail salon finish. They’re listed below for those who would like to know:
- Wash and clean your nails. Do not apply nail polish strips on already worked on nails.
- Time to file your nails as well as buff them. Most nail polish strip kits come with a nail filer and buffer, along with a cuticle stick, so this step shouldn’t be a problem.
- Try to push back your cuticles so you get more nail space to work with.
- Align the strip with your nail’s width and length. Every strip comes with stickers of varying widths to accommodate different fingernails. In this step, you’ll have the stickers ready and sized up to go on the right nails. Do the thumbs last!
- To make the strip last longer, rub it between your fingers before peeling it off. This heats up the lacquer and makes it easier to apply and quicker to settle in. Now remove the clear film and peel off the strip without touching the sticky part.
- Place the strip on your nail bed in the right position – as close to the cuticle as possible. Do not place the strip directly over the cuticle.
- Gently press it down from the cuticle end and follow it up to the nail tips. This will get rid of any air bubbles and give your nail a smooth finish. Do this a couple of times until you have a wrinkle-free applique.
- Once you’ve stretched, smoothened, and adjusted the strip on your nail, crease off the ends, and file them. Use a cuticle stick to get the excess sticker off from the sides of your nails.
- Optional: Now seal it in with a top coat of clear nail polish. This layer is usually transparent and ensures that the strip adheres to the nail for a much longer duration, has a protective top coat of varnish to protect its integrity, and lasts longer than it would without this step. Some brands also recommend the application of a clear base coat before applying the decal for the best results.
If you are more of a visual learner, here are a couple of Youtube videos by popular nail polish strip brands Color Street and Incoco on how to apply nail polish strips. And this one, here, will walk you through all the steps listed above on the best way to apply nail polish strips.
Although nail polish strips do not require any downtime or drying off time – you can get back to your work immediately, most brands do specify that you should avoid getting your nails wet for the next few hours. This could be anywhere from 2 to 8 hours to ensure that the nail strip lasts for a longer duration. And that’s about it!
How Long Do Nail Polish Strips Last?
If you follow the basic steps mentioned in our guide above and seal in the strip with a nice top coat layer, the strip can last for a good week to 10 days. This is also dependant on what you’re doing every day. Frequent exposure to water and abrasive substances will lead to chipping and peeling and the strip will most likely start coming off within the week.
Are Nail Polish Strips Harmful to Your Nails and Cuticles?
In the short term – no. But, most nail polish strips use self-adhesive glue which is a chemical substance. THPH or Triphenyl Phosphate is another toxic chemical that’s found in most nail varnishes. Exposure to such harsh chemicals over a prolonged period can eventually cause permanent damage to your nails and cuticles as well as open you up to other toxic side effects. Maintain the integrity of your nails by allowing them some breathing space in between subsequent nail polish strips applications.
Whether you’re using regular nail polish or strips, getting a good cuticle cream can play a large role in the health and appearance of your cuticles.
What’s the Point of Applying a Top Coat?
A layer of top coat seals in the strip and elongates its life. You can get more out of your nail polish strips if you perform this extra step that prevents the strip from chipping and breaking easily. It extends the life of your nail polish strip by a good 3 to 5 days. You can skip this step if you aren’t in the mood for additional work – it isn’t a must, but it’s good if you do.
How Long Should I Avoid Water After Applying Nail Polish Strips?
See the instructions on the box. If a time frame isn’t mentioned, you can take 2 to 8 hours as a safe estimate. Afterward, you can indulge in your favorite water sports without any fear of the applique breaking, chipping, or slipping off as most nail polish strips are waterproof in varying degrees.
What’s the Best Way to Remove Nail Polish Strips?
If you are using nail polish strips that are made of 90%+ dry nail polish, then you don’t need anything besides regular nail polish remover to get rid of them. If you are using vinyl, PVC, or other hard forms of nail polish strips, submerge your nails in acetone for a good few minutes, then rub the strips off with cotton. You can also try to lift the strips off with an orangewood stick. Lacquer nails on the other hand can be wiped off with acetone.
The popularity and ease of availability of easy to apply, salon finish, nail appliques that don’t require professional help have enabled even novice fashionistas to get salon-worthy nails in a jiffy. Nail polish strips do away with the hassle of applying multiple coats of colors and varnishes and the wait-times in between each coat. You also don’t need to be an expert at handling delicate brushes to get the perfect finish.
Just order a nail polish strip online, follow the steps mentioned on the pack, and voila! You have professionally done nails within a few minutes. Try a nail polish strip today and let your inner fashionista bask in the glow of these perfectly finished nail polish strips.