What Is a Nail Wrap? An Investigation of the Nail Sticker.

BY: Amelia Buzzell |Sep 20, 2022

This Is What Happened When I Tried Nail Wraps | Hero

From carefully painting polish onto your nails using your nondominant hand to waiting around for the polish to dry, executing an at-home manicure can be a hassle. That’s theoretically where nail wraps come in handy. But what is a nail wrap, exactly? This stretchy, nail-shaped sticker is decked out in an elaborate design that wearers could never paint on themselves, and it’s rumored to resist chips for 10 days or longer.

It sounds ideal: stick a decal onto your nails and enjoy a cute manicure for more than a week. Yet, when I tested two nail-wrap styles, the actual process turned out to be a little more complex. Here’s what I learned about the nail stickers:

The wraps

You can find wraps in nearly any design, from textured snakeskin to pictures of emojis. They’re stocked at most drugstores and beauty-supply shops, or you can shop online for Jamberry nail wraps from perhaps the most well-known nail-sticker brand. I opted for gemstone-studded Kiss Nail Dress Strips and Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips with a black-and-white geometric pattern.

This Is What Happened When I Tried Nail Wraps | Kiss Nail Dress Strips

How to apply them

Although directions vary slightly by brand, all nail wraps go on more or less the same way:

  1. Apply a base coat of nail polish (required by some brands only; check the back of your package before you begin).
  2. Choose wraps that complement the length and shape of your nail.
  3. Gently press the wrap to the base of your nail, preferably using an orange stick (which may be included in your package).
  4. Gently stretch the wrap until it curves around the tip of your fingernail. It’s likely the wrap will be longer than your actual nail.
  5. Use a nail file to buff away the excess.
  6. Admire your handiwork.
  7. Admonish yourself for making a “handiwork” pun.

Not all nail stickers are created equal

Chances are, you’ll have to shop around before you find the best nail wraps for your nails. Some brands may offer wraps that are significantly wider or narrower than your natural nails. Others may barely hang on until day 10 if your daily life is especially rough on your hands or if you can’t stop scratching every passing dog on the head. Luckily, experimenting is all part of the fun.

This Is What Happened When I Tried Nail Wraps | Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Stips

My results

Full disclosure: Because I don’t have total confidence in my ability to make my nondominant left hand obey me, I decided to only apply the wraps to the fingernails on my left hand using my right hand.

Kiss Nail Dress Strips

Stretchability: Middling. They were so long and so inflexible that they had to be trimmed down with manicure scissors—no easy feat for someone working with only one hand.

Application time: 35 minutes

Staying power: Disappointing. The wraps started flaking off my fingers within 24 hours of application.

Removal: Easy. Too easy. (See above.)

Where are they now: Still on my coffee table, where they’re adding a fun sparkle to my living-room decor

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips

Stretchability: Excellent. The wraps were pliable, and they were easy to trim with a nail file.

Application time: 20 minutes

Staying power: Good. My nails didn’t start to grow beyond the wraps until day 11, when I noticed the wraps had started to fray around my cuticles.

Removal: Easy. I just grasped a frayed edge and gently pulled each wrap off in one piece.

Color note: These particular wraps’ white surface started to look a little dingy by the end.

My overall takeaway

The Sally Hansen nail wraps were pretty easy to attach and lasted a long time, way longer than a traditional manicure. On the downside, it took me 20 minutes to apply them using my more dexterous right hand, so applying them to both hands would likely take closer to an hour—ain’t nobody got time for that. I probably would only use nail wraps again if the pattern were so beguiling that I couldn't resist, but as far as I know, nobody makes nail wraps with Ira Glass on them. In the meantime, however, I wouldn’t be opposed to using nail wraps to create an accent nail.