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On The Strip

Nail strips are our favorite accessory craze since the bib necklace hit it big three years ago. They’re quicker to apply and last longer than traditional manicures, plus you’ll be the envy of even your most steady-handed friends. Learn everything you need to know about these fingernail-sized works of art.

The Breakdown

Nail strips are actually paper-thin strips of nail polish that have a built-in base coat and topcoat. They are packaged about 95 percent dry, which means that they’re still flexible enough to stretch over nails and smooth out any bumps or uneven edges. Best of all, they come in every color and pattern under the sun, and require zilch drying time.

The Prep

Nail strips won’t stick to other polish so make sure you remove all traces of last week’s mani and any residual oils. Shape and file nails and finish by buffing them lightly. Line up the strips to your nails to decide roughly which one fits each nail.

The Application

Start with your pinkies and leave both thumbs until last because you’ll use them throughout to apply the rest. Remove the plastic cover and paper backing from an individual strip and line up the edge to your cuticle. As you press down, stretch to cover entire nail smoothly. At this point you can reposition to straighten or realign the strip if necessary. Now that you have the strip positioned correctly on your nail, bend the strips to create a small crease at the tips of your nails. Take the fine edge of a nail file and gently file in a downward motion to remove the excess. This should slide off, leaving a smooth edge.

The Insider Tips

If you’re shy when it comes to nail polish or work in a more conservative industry, try using a classic color or by applying nail strips to your toes. They even have a French manicure option, if that’s your bag. Or try a status nail — one finger, usually your ring finger, painted a different color than all the rest — with a fun design. Strips will last up to two weeks. When you’re ready to move on, regular nail polish remover does the trick. Keep in mind if you’re using ones with lots of glitter, they’ll be harder to remove.

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