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How to Apply Nail Stickers for the Easiest At-Home Manicure

You might never go back to a traditional manicure again.
January 24, 2022


These days, it seems like everyone is opting for DIY nails. From press-on nails to traditional manicures, the possibilities are endless. And if you’re looking for an alternative that will considerably speed up your manicure routine, nail stickers should be on your radar. Nail stickers are perfect for those who just can’t find the time to sit in a salon chair but want to get in on the latest nail art trends (hello, neon nails!). Thanks to this buzzy beauty tool, you can give your nails a professional touch with fancy nail designs and patterns right in the comfort of your home. Since nail stickers come with their own rulebook, it’s important for you to get the 4-1-1 before you test drive the trend. Follow along as we give you the lowdown on nail stickers and how to apply them.


What Are Nail Stickers?

Just as the name suggests, nail stickers (or nail wraps) are simply stickers made of nail polish with an adhesive layer on one side and a nail polish color or design on the other. Nail stickers are typically available in pre-cut sizes that cover the entire nail, replacing polish completely. You can also find them as smaller stickers that can be used to accent a regular manicure.


Of course, nail stickers aren’t only reserved for cool designs. If you prefer to rock a minimalist mani, you can find options in solid nail colors that provide a clean-cut look. These allow you to skip the mess and dry time that often come with traditional nail polish.


Are Nail Stickers Safe?

Good news: Nail stickers are totally safe for your nails. Since nail stickers can peel off without damaging your nails, you’re totally in the clear.  


Editor’s tip: One of the best parts about nail stickers is that they offer the most budget-friendly manicure with sets costing as little as $5. 


How Long Do Nail Stickers Last?

When applied to your nails correctly, you can expect nail stickers to last up to two weeks. Keep in mind, the more precise your application technique, the longer your nail stickers will last. 


How Do You Apply Nail Stickers?

Ready to get that intricate nail design by way of nail stickers? Grab your set of choice and follow our step-by-step tutorial below to master the look.


Step 1. Remove Old Nail Polish

Before you can apply your nail stickers, you’ll need to make sure that your natural nails are nice and clean. Set the stage by removing old nail polish that's left on your nails with nail polish remover. 


Step 2. File Your Nails

The overall goal is for your nail stickers to look like your natural nails, so it’s essential to file and shape your nails first. Trim your nails and make sure that they’re even, then follow up with a nail file to shape your nails for a nice and smooth finish.


Step 3. Clean Up Your Nails

Place your hands in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to give your nails a quick soak. Pick up an orange stick and push your cuticles out of the way for a fresh look.


Editor's tip: if you're tempted to cut your cuticles, don't! Cutting them can result in irritation or infection.


Step 4. Select Your Nail Stickers

Once your nails are dry, it’s time to whip out your nail stickers. Each set of nail stickers comes on a transparent sheet featuring various sizes so that they can work for people with different nail shapes and sizes. The best way to select the right size for you is by placing the stickers over your nails before removing them from the sheet. Once you have your stickers picked out, it’s time for some sticking action.


Step 5. Peel Your Nail Stickers

All you need to do is remove the strip from its backing with your fingers. But if your nails are extra long or the stickers are super sticky, you can also pick them up with a pair of tweezers. 


Step 6: Apply Your Nail Stickers

Gently place the side with the adhesive as close to your cuticle as possible. Smooth it down against your nail from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. If you’re using nail stickers as an accent to your base nail color, place the nail art sticker wherever you please and smooth it down for a seamless finish. 


Step 6. File Away The Excess

If you find that you have a bit of extra polish strip hanging off of your nails, simply use a nail file to smooth away the excess for a clean finish. Repeat until you have a full set of nail stickers on your nails.


Step 7. Add A Clear Top Coat

Once you’re done putting on the nail stickers, apply a top coat for a shiny finish. This step isn’t a requirement, but we recommend doing it for a long-lasting and professional-looking finish.


How To Remove Nail Stickers

Once your nail stickers start to lift at the edges, it’s time to remove them. Below, find three ways to get the job done.


Option 1. Peel And Go

If your nail stickers have been in place for at least two weeks, they will probably peel off with ease when the time comes. Peel the stickers off from the lifted edge if they come off without a struggle.


Option 2. Do An Acetone Soak

A great way to remove stubborn nail polish stickers is with an acetone soak. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to your cuticles to protect your nails during the removal process. Pour acetone into a small bowl, place your fingers in the bowl, and let your nails soak for 10 minutes. 


Once your soak session is up, use an orange stick to gently lift the stickers off of the nails. If the nail stickers won’t budge, repeat the acetone soak for an additional five minutes.


Option 3. Hot Water Soak

If you prefer to remove your nail stickers without acetone, a hot water soak will do the trick. All you need to do is fill a small bowl with warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing soap. Place your hands in the bowl and allow your nails to soak for 20 minutes. Once the nail stickers are loose, you can gently peel them off.


Next: 7 Marbled French Manicure Designs to Screenshot Before Your Next Nail Appointment



Edited by: Sophie Dweck, Photo Credit: Maya Kapa

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