There’s a new kid on the nail art block and I’m having a bittersweet love affair with them. There, I said it. Essie Sleek Sticks are rolling out to beauty supply and drug stores across Canada and I couldn’t help but pick up two sets to try out. At about $15 per set, they’re more expensive than a bottle of polish or competitor nail strips from Sally Hansen, but less than a salon manicure. Billed as long-lasting UV-cured nail appliqués, these gorgeous nail stickers wrap nails in chic patterns. From animal prints to glitzy accents, there’s something for every nail art aficionado.

I picked up oh my gold! and over the moon. Simply said, they were both stunning. So, why the bittersweet love affair? Read on to find out.

Photo via http://www.essie.com 

Each package comes with a full set of nail appliqués, instructions, a mini cuticle pusher and mini nail file. The package was easy to open and the instructions easy to follow. So far so good.

Application is simple:

  1. File your nails and swipe with nail polish remover to rid the nail of all oils. If your normal manicure routine is to apply a cuticle oil or balm, skip it. Push back your cuticles.
  2. Select the right size appliqué for your nail. This is made simple and quick by the transparent plastic the appliqués are presented on. Simply curve the plastic over your nail to see if the wrap is a good fit.
  3. Peel the appliqué from the plastic and apply to your nail, starting at the base. Press down firmly and be sure to remove any bubbles.
  4. Fold the ends over the tips of your nails and remove excess by brushing against the tips in a downwards motion with the nail file.
  5. Repeat for all nails. Brush on a topcoat if you’d like. Be sure to wait one hour before getting your hands wet – the stickers need time to fully adhere to your nails.

This is where things get a bit tricky. Your manicure will look ridiculously fabulous when you’re done. There’s absolutely zero question about that. However, if you’re used to polish-based nail strips or regular salon manicures, these appliques can be a bit of an adjustment.

  • They kind of feel like scotch tape on your nails. While I couldn’t stop staring at my hands (and Instagramming), I also couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. They feel kind of strange and clunky on your nails, much like I’d imagine acrylic tips would feel for the first little while. Nothing to lose sleep over, but it is noticeable. For me, this was a huge change over the seamless application of real nail polish strips.
  • They’re not exactly long-wearing. This is the kind of manicure you want to last forever. Not only do your nails look awesome, but you’ve also just paid about $15 for an at-home manicure. Unfortunately, I started to see tipwear and peeling after 2 days. The longest I’ve kept them on is 3-4 days.
  • They peel off and leave guk behind. It’s not a clean break from Sleek Sticks. When you peel them off, they leave a filmy, guk-y layer behind (like when you played with Elmer’s glue as a kid). You will need to spend time cleaning your nails off. On a scale from 1 to glitter removal, this process is about a 3.5.

So, after all that…will I buy them again? Yes, probably…with some caveats. These were definitely too gorgeous not to buy again. However, I’m going to be a bit more judicious about when I buy them and what for! Essie Sleek Sticks are the perfect accessory for a special event or when you need an extra pick-me-up in the nail department. They’ll change the look of your nails with minimal effort, for maximum wow factor. As long as you don’t expect to get a Shellac or salon manicure level of commitment from them, Essie Sleek Sticks are a gorgeous way to spice up your polish routine.

PS. Unlike nail polish strips, these nail appliqués won’t dry out and extras can be saved for a rainy beauty day. Imagine oh my gold! as a luxe accent nail to pump up a classic red mani. Stunning! 

Disclosure: I purchased these on my own dime at Trade Secrets – these weren’t a PR sample.