If you're anything like me, your last memory of wearing stick-on nails is 2005, when a 12-year-old-you was desperately trying to glue on a set of Claire's Accessories finest Frenchies in preparation for your mate's birthday sleepover. Since the nail art hype took off a few years ago, there's been a vast improvement in the quality and variation of polishes available on the market, resulting in a boom in sales as consumers opted to paint their own tips. But with leading Health & Beauty retailers reporting a 7% drop in the sale of nail polish over the past year and brands like Revolution, MUA and GOSH halting UK production, it seems our hectic schedules and heavy workloads have pushed nail painting down on our priority list. So, what are the alternatives?
The Gel Mani
Gel manicures are an extremely popular choice and were an instant beauty phenomenon, due to their speedy application and glossy, long-wear finish. However, there has been some controversy over the gel manicure despite its devout following, as careless removal and repeated applications can cause damage, as celebrity manicurist, Ami Streets, explains. "Gel polish causes the nail plate to become dehydrated and repeated applications can mean this will weaken the nail in the long term. Proper removal of the gel polish is super important, as peeling or picking at the gel can remove layers of the nail plate, resulting in damage and weakness." So, gel polish once a while is okay, but definitely isn't suitable as your regular go-to manicure.
Taking this into account (and the fact that loads of us simply don't have the time nor the will to faff around painting our nails), is it the press-on falsies we remember from our youth's turn to take the nail spotlight? With the high-street seeing a recent increase of sales in false nails, the speed, price point and convenience of a new era of sophisticated stick-ons seem to be a winning combo. But how easy is it to fit them to our nails and what are the do's and don'ts for application? "False nails can be filed and adapted to your preference so when selecting sizes for fit they can always be altered before you adhere them." says Ami. "Start with a totally clean nail for the best results - 'squeak' the nail with polish remover and select your sizes by placing the falsies over your natural nail - ensure that your nail is totally covered especially at the sides!" Then, "apply by pressing the edge as close to the cuticle as possible, adding pressure evenly over the nail to the tip". What's great is, you can deal with any errors in judgement of size or shape after application "- if they need any further alterations to the length or shape, this can be done now."
Sounds simple enough, but are there any pitfalls to press-ons? Ami advises that, "although they're perfect for a quick fix, special occasion or easy way to try out new trends, using adhesive too often can damage your natural nails and be difficult to remove". Sticker tabs don't require adhesive, come in a multitude of colours and designs are easily removed, however are only "best for 1-2 days as they can lose their effectiveness if they come into contact with water or after prolonged wear."
Still not convinced by false nails? Ami says a salon standard at-home manicure is easily achievable, and that "a base coat, followed by two thin coats of colour finished with a high shine topcoat and application of cuticle oil" will give you perfectly polished nails. Just keep each coat of polish lightweight, as "the thinner the application the quicker your nails will dry!" Also, invest in a good cuticle oil and top coat; reapplying these every one to two days will extend wear and help you to avoid chipping.