Nail-Art Masterpieces In Minutes: How To Use Nail Strips For Amazing DIY Creations

We've got some true nail-art geniuses among our staff. But for the less skillful, crafty, and creative of us, every time one of our more talented coworkers comes in sporting another masterpiece on her fingertips, there are some serious bouts of envy.
But even the saddest staffers discovered that nail-art supremacy is possible quickly and easily for experts and novices alike, thanks to a little creative use of Sally Hansen's Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips.
Made out of real nail polish and easy to apply in minutes, flat, these new colors and patterns were at the ready and highly useful when it came to throwing ourselves a little Nail Day at R29, where — with a little help from the folks at Sally Hansen and our trend-spotting eds — even our nail-art newbies were able to pull off some positively explosive looks.
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Click through for a full tutorial on how to take these simple little strips and create colorful, eye-catching masterpieces in minutes.
Photographed by Mark Iantosca
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Beautiful nail art created through hours of hard work with steady, deft hands, right? Oh, how wrong you are, dear friend — these babies took mere minutes. Keep clicking to learn how.

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For our first lesson on using Sally Hansen's Salon Effect Real Nail Polish Strips, we decided to start off with the simple application of their Lust-rous pattern — a chic, star-field effect.

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Before you apply the strip, make sure your nails are nice and clean, but don't soak them (moisture and these strips don't mix). Smooth the free edge of your nail with with the bright pink side of the file provided. Easy peasy.

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Gently push back your cuticles with the slanted end of the provided orange wood stick. An uneven nail base could lead to bubbles under the strip.

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Lightly buff the surface of the nail with the white side of the file — this helps the strip grip the nail, making application easier and longer lasting.

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One more prep step — remove dust and particles from your nail with a lint-free pad dipped in acetone-based nail polish remover. Don't use pure acetone, though!

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Get ready for some stickin'. Peel the backing off the strip and lay it across the nail with the rounded edge slotted into your cuticles. Take a moment to smooth the strip into your particular nail-bed shape and and press out any wrinkles or bubbles by pushing them toward the nearest edge.

Cut the strip a tiny bit above the nail and lightly push the excess underneath. Don't worry about getting it perfect — we'll deal with that later.

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Repeat the process across all your nails — after you've done a couple, the process is going to start getting very easy and very fast.

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Here's where we file out the imperfections at the top. Use only a downward motion — going upward could fray the strip.

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Apply a top coat to protect the strip, and — bam! — look at the awesome sauce nails our Reserve Partnership Manager Charlene Chang created with slacker effort.

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Natasha Ivankovitser, R29 Brand Integration Manager, went for a more literary look using the Love Letter strips.

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Designer Emily Kowzan went for the Girl Flower pattern — a floral treatment that's so complex, she'd need a degree to do it by hand.

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Since we're confident you've mastered the first step, we're going to show you how to use polish and the nail strips to create new, unique nail art of your own. Grab the Wild Child patterned strip by Sally Hansen and their Twisted Pink Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Color.

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Apply the strips using the same prep and application methods we taught you before. You were listening, right? Good.

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Don't forget to buff!

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Lightly apply the nail color to some stylishly random areas. Don't fret if your brush catches some of the black — it won't show if you paint outside the lines a little.

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After adding a top coat, our Brand Integration Manager Alison Denton had a one-of-kind take on an already-edgy pattern.

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Shawna Foulkes, Brand Integration Associate, used a similar technique, painting the tips of these Check It Out houndstooth applications with three coats of bright yellow then finishing with a top coat.

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Julia Anderson, Senior Brand Integration Manager, painted little half-moons atop Sally Hansen's Queen of the Jungle print, let them dry for five minutes to prevent bleeding, then added a top coat to finish.

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Alexandria Gurule, our Marketing Manager, created a really mind-boggling effect by painting black nail color with and against the patterns of these Tri-bal It On strips, then adding a little gold before applying a top coat. The more she experimented, the better it got.

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Editorial Assistant Seija Rankin created a combo of sparkly Frock Star strips and on-trend blue nail color. Electric!

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Don't limit yourself to one style or treatment of Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. Mixing and matching two different strips — Glitz Blitz and Blue Ice here — can lead to some really stellar effects.

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Again, we're using the same, 'ol prep, application, and buffing technique — no doubt you're a whiz at this now.

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Then, using a pair of whatever small scissors you have handy, cut a pattern. For this look, we went with simple Chevrons, but more crafty practitioners can attempt something truly ambitious (remember, though, you're going to have to be able to repeat your pattern 10 times).

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Again, chevrons are simple by nature, so this took us just a sec.

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If you're using chevrons like us or similar bar patterns, leave them long on purpose so you can cut them to fit once they're on the nail after you've applied them.

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Our Reserve Copywriter/Editor, Amanda Keiser added a top coat to bind the two layers and finish off a look that might not even be possible using traditional, by-hand nail-art methods.

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Meanwhile, on her left hand, Amanda mixed and matched without scissors, creating an equal amount of drama by just using a single varient Laced Up nail strip. She sort of won Nail Day with these two.

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A nail-art party lineup of some of our faves, all banged out in the same time it would have taken to painstakingly craft just one look in the traditional way. So much fun!

Photographed by Mark Iantosca
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