It’s extremely rare for me to get a manicure. I can’t justify it, especially when I already allot a large chunk of my time (and budget) to regular gel pedicures, waxes, and facials. And I dread sitting in a salon chair for what feels like hours, unable to flip through a tabloid or scroll through Instagram because my hands are confined to a heat lamp. Even rarer? Doing my nails myself. I simply cannot paint my own nails — the last time I attempted to was nearly two years ago, and they were done so poorly, my fingers resembled a Jackson Pollock painting (and it became a running joke among my friend group). So, with the exception of a few special occasions per year — holidays and weddings — I wear my nails short and unpolished. And yes, the irony of being a beauty editor who is objectively bad at nails and never gets manicures is not lost on me.
With this in mind, you can imagine my reaction when I was assigned to test out Dashing Diva’s GLAZE — at-home nail strips that last for two weeks and are designed to be cured under LED light in 45 seconds. What’s more, the only window of time I had for trying them was a few hours before a dinner party in which I’d meet my boyfriend’s family. Great, I thought. Another at-home nail kit that will most likely result in disaster. But part of my job involves conquering my fears (vampire facials do hurt, FYI), so I reluctantly locked myself in the bathroom and got to it.
Each box of Dashing Diva’s GLAZE comes with 34 vegan and cruelty-free nail strips in 12 different sizes, a wooden manicure stick for pushing your cuticles back, a little nail file, and two “prep” pads to clean nails prior to application. The nail strips are made with 70% semi-cured gel, meaning they’re partly hardened, resulting in less time underneath an LED lamp (Dashing Diva sends you a free mini one with your first purchase of GLAZE nail strips). Along with the lamp, you essentially have everything you need for success in each box except for a pair of nail clippers, which you should definitely have nearby.
I was given a large assortment of solid colors and prints to try out, including Pink Blossom, Vivid Red, Space Blue, and Grecian Gold. Feeling bold, I went for Space Blue (a deep navy). The kits come with paper instructions, but I watched the snappy video tutorial on Dashing Diva’s YouTube channel, pausing and rewinding it more frequently than I’d like to admit.
First, I washed my hands, pushed my cuticles back, and filed the tips of my nails into a rounder shape. Then, I used the prep pads to clear off any debris or oil from my nail beds. Starting with my thumb nail, I selected the appropriately sized nail strip from the plastic sheet, peeled it off, and attempted to stick it to my nail. Unfortunately, it was super stiff and fell off immediately. I suspected something was awry — and I was correct: After reading through the instructions, I learned that my nail strips had cured already because I left them unboxed and on a table in direct sunlight all morning. Feeling foolish, I reached for a new box.
This time, the strips were gel-like and molded for a comfortable fit, and they stuck well to my nails. Per the video tutorial, I pressed each strip firmly onto my nail, making sure to avoid bubbles or folds. Afterward, I peeled off the protective film from each strip and then cut them down with nail clippers to match the length of my actual nail. Because my nails were so short, there was quite a lot of excess from the strips, which kept getting stuck in the clippers. Perhaps I need to invest in a better pair — or keep my nails a bit longer for next time.
Satisfied with the length and placement of the strips, I plugged in the LED lamp (which, conveniently enough, has a USB port) and pushed the button, which turns on the light for 45 seconds. (For a full minute of light, you hold down the button longer.) In 45 seconds, my nails were completely dry to the touch — a blessing for an antsy person like myself — but I still found myself behaving in the same paranoid fashion I would if my nails had been freshly painted. This changed when I found some steel wool under the sink and scraped it across the surface of my nails to test them out. Nothing — not even a scratch.
The application process was quicker and easier on my other hand. I left my nails under the lamp for the full 60 seconds this time to see if it made any difference. The results were mostly the same — except that my thumb nail (the 45 second one) didn't feel totally secure. Nevertheless, I received two compliments on my nails at the party, which I’ll consider a massive win.
Overall, these nail strips genuinely impressed me. They're a solid alternative to a gel manicure since they’re designed to last for two weeks (you can thank the triple-layer technology that includes base, color, and top coat for that) though I ended up taking them off three days later because, well, I don’t really feel like myself with color on my nails. Removal, by the way, was shockingly easy and non-damaging — all it required was Dashing Diva Magic Off Nail Remover (a little cuticle oil also works) and the wooden manicure stick that came with the kit. I can confirm that I’ll be reaching for these again come New Year’s Eve. If they can last through a dinner party with my boyfriend’s family, I’m confident they’ll carry me into the new year.