Beauty Breakdown: Real Polish Strips vs Nail Stickers – What’s The Difference?

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A recent Twitter conversation really got under my skin. I was trying to stress the difference between polish strips and nail stickers, but my message wasn’t getting through. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in an elevator and a coworker has asked me “Is that those stickers?” There is a real difference between strips made from real nail polish and a product that works just like the stickers you put on your notebook in the 4th grade. Each product has distinct advantages and disadvantages, but can you tell the difference? Let’s break it down.

Real polish strips:
The most famous (and successful) example of real nail polish strips are the Sally Hansen Salon Effects (they even say “real nail polish strips” on the box). When you open one of the airtight packages, you can catch a whiff of the same smell that you get when you open a bottle of polish. The wear on these strips is pretty incredible – if you play your cards right, you can get up to 10 days of wear from a single set. I’ve heard stories of women who are so savvy, they can get two applications from a single package. Since these strips behave like real polish, you can adjust them (gently) to work with your nail size and shape, and it’s a good idea to run the end of the strip under the end of your nail to seal off the edge. To remove, simply use nail polish remover just like you would with any other product. Another example of real polish strips are from the brand Incoco, which offers different designs & colors from Sally Hansen.

Nail stickers:
As the name implies, stickers are adhesive backed strips that last a surprising amount of time – up to 5 days in my experience. Most recently I’ve tried offerings from Maybelline and L’Oreal. Both were similar in application, though I did notice that the Maybelline strips were nearly half as thick as the L’Oreal. The shine on the L’Oreal product was very similar to the mirror-like finish I had on a Shellac manicure. As I wore both products, the stickers became more annoying than wearing off or looking unkempt. The edges would start to lift, especially from the end of my finger. It was important to always keep a file with me to keep the edges in check. These are great for a special occasion or an event, but not meant to go the distance like the Salon Effects or similar products. After all, they’re STICKERS. Let’s keep our expectations firmly grounded in reality. To remove the stickers, I went the lazy route & pulled them off. A small residue was left on my nails, but there was no damage. It’s a great way to let your nails heal for a few days without the drying chemicals of polish. Another big difference I noticed between the sticker products and real polish strips was the size of the individual strip. For me, the Salon Effects work out perfectly on my nails, but the stickers (which seem to be cut from the same sizes) were smaller in width. If your nail beds are on the smaller side, you’ll be a great match for the stickers.

Did you know the difference between real polish strips and nail stickers? Did you confuse the two? Be honest in the comments below!