Making Nail Art Easy with Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips

Published in: Beauty Tips, Guest Post, Nails, Sally Hansen


Written by Betty

What do you do when regular nail polishes can’t keep up with your creative side? Nail polish blogger Betty shares one idea in today’s guest post.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips

Skeptical of nail polishes that claim to last as long as 10 days or more. How about nail stickers that make the same claim? I recently took the plunge and gave the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips (that was a mouthful, wasn’t it?) a try.


Available in a wide range of interesting patterns, like leopard, zebra, butterfly, plaid, stripes, and a selection of solid colors, too, they usually retail for about $10, or thereabouts, at stores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Wal-Mart, Target and CVS. These strips, which are made out of real nail polish, are supposed to look more real than other stickers, and most of the time, when I spot one of the displays, it’s usually empty.

I hope that means they’re pretty good!

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

The pattern I chose is called Fly With Me. Let’s see how it works…

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Here’s what I found inside the package: a note with semi-vague directions (in three languages), a small cuticle/orange stick, a small pink file/buffer with two different grits and 16 nail strips. Pulling away the tab at the end of the strips exposes the adhesive side.

So, 16 strips? But we only have 10 fingers. I suppose 16 is an amount that both ensures that each box is suitable for a single manicure, while also providing some extra strips to accommodate mistakes and different sizes of nails.

Honestly, I think I’d prefer getting 12 strips per box instead of 16 if it meant being able to lower the price by a few bucks. As these are now, they aren’t very kind to a college student’s budget. A polish bottle at a drugstore costs a few dollars less and can last for dozens of manicures, but, of course, these come in some very cool patterns.

See how I think? Haha! Not to worry. Stay tuned for a way to make these strips last for TWO manicures, which certainly helps.

Before we begin…

Let’s buff down the ridges on our nails. The directions suggest using the dark pink half of the included buffer, but I find it way too rough on my nails and and use my own buffing block instead.

Ensure that you’ve created a smooth canvas upon which to work. Not a requirement, but these strips are thin and extremely unforgiving to ridges, exaggerating and emphasizing every bump. While we’re at it, let’s also even out the length of our nails.

Next, let’s wash our hands and nails. From what I’ve read, we needn’t apply a base coat here because it can reduce the longevity of the stickers.

It’s very, very important that our hands are warm when we apply. I know it might sound silly, but I tried to apply another set of nail strips once in a room with a fan on high. My hands were cold at the time, and the adhesive on the stickers refused to activate. They just kept falling off. From my experience, warm fingers and nails give the best results.

How to apply

Look through the box and select a strip that best fits the bed of your first nail. Pull the tab, and peel the strip away from the backing.

Carefully, align and press it onto each nail, one by one, cutting away any excess, like so…

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Smooth each sticker down a bit, and ensure that it’s securely affixed to the nail.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Now, peel off the invisible plastic topper. NOTE: The directions say absolutely nothing about this, and the first time when I tried to file down the excess, I couldn’t! Don’t be like me, and remember this crucial step.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Next, using the cuticle stick, go over each nail, getting rid of any air bubbles that might have popped up. Be sure to pay special attention to the edges of the stickers, and be careful, because if you’re too vigorous with the stick, you could poke holes in the stickers (which I did once).

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Gently file away any excess, curling each strip under the nail. The directions say to use the light pink half of the file for this step, but I find that it’s just too weak. It feels like the side of a pen or something! Instead, I use the rougher half to tear at the stickers slightly, and then use the light pink side to finish the job.

Well, we’re done! And if we stopped at this step, we’d have have a bunch of extra, unused strips going straight to the trash. Waste makes me sad, so let’s try something out.

You may notice that some of the strips are extremely long…

I suppose this trick may not work for someone with very long fingernails, but it should for someone with shorter nails. My nails are short enough that I can cover two of my nails with a single strip.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

This time, I cut the strips much closer to my free edge, which I find also makes the strips easier to buff. If you’re lucky, the other edge will fit perfectly in the bottom curves of your nail bed on your other hand or on another finger. If not, then you might have to do a bit of trimming.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Like this. This strip doesn’t quite fit like a dream on my nail, so I’ll trim down the edges with a pair of small scissors. I use a cuticle scissors because it’s curved, but I think next time I may just use a small straight scissors.


Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Here’s an example showing the second half of a cut strip that should fit my other pinky. Pretty good, if I don’t say so myself. πŸ˜€

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Strips

Lastly, I’ll put the excess strips back in the box, and save them for a future manicure.

Not bad. That’s two for the price of one!


Written by Betty

Austin, Texas native and nail polish blogger Betty uses her blog as an excuse to hoard obscene amounts of nail polish, much to the chagrin of her fiancé. Currently an English major at a university in Washington DC, she loves curling up with good books, spending hours browsing various beauty blogs, and obsessing over her next manicure to cute-ify her nails!


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So far, 44 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Megan says:

    These look really good! I am not a very big fan of these, I find they are too much of a hassle. I much prefer painting on my own color and then creating a design with a nail art brush.

  2. Sarahc says:

    Hmm, I don’t see the advantage of these. They’re not that easy to apply and cost more than regular nail polish. I like the patterns. It looks like that’s the only reason to get them.

    • Betty says:

      It is easy if you get the hang of them, but my first application I was like what the fudge am I doing wrong?!?! LOL. I agree, the only reason why I bought them is because I cannot replicate that butterfly design and they’re good for long trips where I don’t have that many opportunities to be doing manicures. Polish does not last 3 days on me, at all.

  3. Shauna says:

    Great post! I have been wanting o try these for awhile πŸ˜€

  4. veronica says:

    Thanks for the tips!!! I definitely am buying these! they come in such cute patterns πŸ˜€ !!!!!

  5. Amber L. says:

    Too expensive for weekly manicures but I might try it now and then!!

    • Betty says:

      I agree! So far the only opportunities that I have to use them is long roadtrips, camping, or days with a lot of travel in between. πŸ˜€ Or special occasions!

  6. Chris says:

    Great post! I recently tried the lace ones and noticed that if you cut them in half before applying you’re able to get another use out of them.

  7. Arummmanis says:

    that’s so cute. I wonder if i can find them in Jakarta…

  8. Emmaline says:

    How long do they last? Do you apply a top coat to them? When it’s time to take them off do you peel them off or just use polish remover?

    • Betty says:

      They claim to last 10 days. I was experiencing some major chipping on my index finger/thumb nails on the 8th day. The other, lesser used fingers were pristine. I use my hands a lot, but I imagine for those with jobs who don’t require getting fingers dirty/wet a lot could have them last longer.

      I did not apply a topcoat to them at all, I was afraid of shrinking or some weird lifting but it is worth a try. I hear topcoat does make them last longer, but I can’t verify that.

      YEP- Just remove them with nail polish remover! I found it was a bit difficult as they became very grainy and quite adhered to my nails when I was attempting to remove my butterfly manicure.

  9. Sonia says:

    Just a heads up, I tried the whole using one strip for two nails trick to save the rest of the strips for a later use. Turns out that if you leave them in the box for a while, they won’t work anymore and will not stick on your nails. This happened to me and to a friend. It may have been just us, but I just wanted to warn you to use those stickers fast =)

    • Betty says:

      How did you cut them? Did you stick them on your nails, and then cut them down to size then put those scraps away? My method was to stick them on, cut them and then put the extra on my other hand, matching up the nails. I imagine that would be a major issue, and disappointing!! I have no cut down strips waiting to be put on, just the remaining strips that were untouched so I hope they are OK when I go back to them.

      Maybe if you cut them to size before peeling them off the plastic backing, and store in an airtight container such as a ziploc bag, it could help them stay sticky?

  10. BeautyMaven says:

    Emmaline– use a top coat to help them stay longer! πŸ™‚ They’re plasticized nail polish, so nail polish remover will take them off. Also, since they’re NOT stickers, these last the longest of the “nail decals.” When you take them out of the package, you’ll notice they smell like nail polish, haha!

  11. Zeadelle says:

    Um, personally I dont buy sally hansen products, although they say they dont “test their polishes on animals” their name isnt included on peta, an anti animal cruelty org, the labels are tricky, & there’s no specific law about labeling products & animal cruelty. Im just saying πŸ™‚

  12. Stephanie says:

    Once they’re available in Europe(in Septembre) I’m going to purchase one kit just to try them out. I’ve had bad experience with other strips, but these look so much better.

  13. Jeni says:

    It looks good! I haven’t tried those yet because I’m so cheap, but if you can get twice as many nails done with one pack then I thought, then maybe I’ll try them.
    Jeni recently posted … Beauty-Obsessed Lolcat Pics

    • Betty says:

      I agree! They also come in solid colors (Why buy those? I guess it’s for people who don’t like the hassle of drying time and smudging) but I figured it was worth the $10 if I could get TWO manicures and if I chose a design that I could definitely not replicate myself. πŸ˜€

      • Jay says:

        I buy the clears just to keep my nails from peeling/chipping/breaking! They make my nails look so nice and finished. The clear is in the french mani pack.

        That’s at least 7 days of nice looking nails, and I got some on clearance so it’s like $3 for the week-10 days. Totally well worth it.

  14. These are soooo cool! I HAVE to try these!

  15. So cute! I have really small/narrow nails, what do I do if I have extra on the sides?
    Beautiful Canvas recently posted … Sana Soya Milk Rich Toner Review

    • Betty says:

      I had that problem. I used a tiny cuticle scissors to trim them down to size on the sides. Another commenter said to “just buff them off”, you could try that if you are good at buffing. I’m definitely not! I tried buffing off the sides and it came off ragged and was not attractive. Cutting with a small scissor gives me a straighter, cleaner curve next to my cuticles.

    • emily says:

      I actually just pressed on the edges that were too big with the flat cuticle stick they gave you. Excess came right off.

  16. Amanda says:

    I haven’t tried these yet, thought maybe I’d try them for vacation since I’ve heard people say they last for well over a week. I too have heard that you can’t save the extras. They dry out and crack when you try to put them on. That deterred me too. I thought I could buy a pack and just use one of each ring finger and save the rest other uses.
    Amanda recently posted … Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

    • Betty says:

      I cut them BEFORE taking them off the plastic backing. It’s not shown in my pictures because I was taking them solo, and didn’t have a tripod nearby. When I did this post I chose one strip, and cut it to size and immediately used on the same nail on both hands. I didn’t cut it and put it away. My nail beds are pretty symmetrical so I was able to get away with this method, but if others have a more varied nail beds they might want to cut them down to size before peeling the strips off the backings.

      I think if you cut them while they still are stuck on their backing it might prevent the drying out. I also kept them in a ziploc bag, reducing their exposure to air.

  17. beth says:

    I love these! I’ve used 3 different types and they all lasted almost 2 weeks with no chipping and minor tipwear and growth showing. and they really aren’t that hard to apply; was able to put them on and out the door in about 15 minutes while on the phone with a friend. met my boyfriend’s family that day and his mom and sister loved them.

  18. Nora says:

    I’m really glad to see a review of these, since I’ve been thinking about them. But I would have liked to see more attention paid to how they wear; that’s the practical focus of nail polish for most women, I think.

    • Betty says:

      There is another post on my blog(linked above in the blurb about me) where I did a wear test. I often get questions on how they look when put on, as people can’t really envision that or think they will look tacky or completely like stickers. πŸ™‚ I also really wanted to share my trick on how to make them last for two manicures, as the $10 is often deterring for most people when thinking about them.

      They lasted about 8 days on me, I was experiencing major wear on my index and thumbs, but the rest of the fingers were pristine, just like day one! They began chipping heavily on the 5th day or so, and the 8th day I took them off because I’m SO used to doing daily manicures and seeing the same design everyday was getting to me. LOL. I was doing a lot of heavy moving that week, lots of unpacking/packing. I think a manicure would not have survived day one. I was afraid of being misleading if I posted what they looked like after only five days πŸ™‚

      Another commenter says they lasted about two weeks on her. It’s hard to do a wear test, as the way we treat our hands is a huge variable. Hope you understand why I avoided posting a wear test! πŸ™‚

  19. Amanda says:

    You can’t really save the extras once you take them out of the package. It’s better to open one package and cut those in half.
    Also, I don’t think it’s necessary to cut them to fit before you put them on your nail. I just choose a size that is a little to big and then gently scrape off the excess that ends up on the skin around my nail. Much easier.

    • Betty says:

      You must be better at buffing things off than I am LOL. I tried that, and I got ragged edges around my cuticles. Not cute! πŸ™ The buffing strip that was included in the package was also pretty mean on my cuticles so I avoided those and went for the cutting-down-to-size option.

      • Maureen says:

        Put one that’s “too big” on your nail, and then chop it down around the sides with the wooden cuticle stick. That’s all. πŸ™‚

  20. Heather says:

    great post. I made these last 2 manicures like you said, by cutting one strip in two. To clarify, to ensure the strips didn’t dry out, I didn’t open both “foil” sealed packages when doing the first manicure. I just made the one set of 8 work for my first manicure. that way the second set of 8 is factory sealed until i choose to use it.

    Also, the instructions say to remove the plastic BEFORE applying them to your nails (I cut the length to fit, remove plastic, then remove white backing, then apply), this allows you to warm the polish with your hands and stretch and smooth as necessary, eliminating any creasing/bubbles.

    • Betty says:

      That’s right, that’s what I did too. I still have one factory sealed package waiting for me to go on another long trip πŸ™‚ Should have mentioned that, oops!

      Yup, same process here. πŸ˜€ I thought it meant plastic as in plastic backing but I didn’t see anything about an invisible topper LOL. Maybe I was tired that day or something haha.

      Thanks! I hope your comment helps other readers too! πŸ™‚

  21. mn says:

    Thanks for the post. I bought a box but was trying to figure out how to get two nails out of one strip since it would seem like a waste otherwise so thanks for sharing tips on how to do that. I’m going to have to look for my box.

  22. Gauri says:

    oooooh these look so good…..
    Gauri recently posted … 13 Fabulous Monsoon Beauty Must-Haves

  23. karo says:

    They look so cool!
    I like it!
    karo recently posted … Happy Birthday & Geschenke

  24. Anita says:

    So did they really last 10 days?

  25. Mexi52 says:

    Thanks so much for this article Betty !! The directions in the box isn’t as thorough. Your tips help me a lot πŸ™‚ I just bought my first salon effects (love letter) and so far so good, I just love how they look !!!

  26. Lola says:

    I use one 8 strip package per manicure, so 2 per box; follow the instructions absolutely and take my time! They last for 10 days, 2 weeks if I am careful/lazy LOL! If you use the gel top coat with the LED light they will last definitely for 2 weeks and look fabulous, but then the growth shows. (I had the same problem with a $50 salon gel manicure).

  27. Hayley says:

    Hi, I love your blog and wanted to share some nail strips I designed. You can check them out on etsy

    I’d love any feedback and to hear your thoughts.



  28. SArah says:

    I used the Revelon brand they were on sale for 4.99 at walgreens.. but i usually get my nails done. I think there were 8 strips per sheet and i only used 7 for Both my feet, seeing as how my toe nails are way smaller than finger nails! Hopefully they last a little longer! if soo ill start doing this instead of paying!

  29. Jay says:

    I found that using a little paintbrush with nail polish remover can reactivate the strips after they have been opened/left out a week. But it takes care. Paint the whole thing lightly with polish remover then press on like normal. I needed to replace one finger that had really peeled off and I didn’t want to buy a whole new set. This worked. I can’t see doing it for a whole hand/set but for one finger it’s fine. It’s a little delicate when you press it down and I had a few bubbles.

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