How to Use Nail Wraps for an Effortlessly Cool Manicure

Love manicures but not salon prices? Grabbing a bottle of polish and patiently painting your own nails usually turns out fine once you clean up the smudges on your dominant hand. But if you’re looking for something extra special — and hand-painted nail art sounds way too complicated — there’s a helpful solution. Nail wraps, also referred to as nail polish strips or stickers, come in fun colors and patterns that you can apply without any skill — or mess! Drop the brush and read on to learn how to use nail wraps.

What Exactly Are Nail Wraps?

Unlike press-ons, nail wraps are thin, self-adhesive stickers that sit close to the nail. They do not add length or change the shape of your nail and are easy to remove with nail polish remover. Because they stick on without glue, you have a decreased risk of nail damage.

High-quality nail wraps can last about a week (or longer!) with the proper application and care. When picking out a design, look for a repetitive pattern that will still look professional when you cut it down to fit your nail shape. Research premium brands that use strong adhesives — for a salon worthy manicure, make sure to avoid cheap materials. Nail wraps can also be included in a clean beauty routine because many brands offer non-toxic wraps or five-free, seven-free, or 10-free (made without the most toxic chemicals commonly found in polish) options. Wraps made with real nail polish may last longer, but if you’re concerned about toxins in the polish, opt for wraps made from vinyl or silk.

Nail wraps can easily be trimmed with small scissors or filed down, but to make your at-home manicure even more foolproof, look for a brand that offers a variety of sizes to find your perfect fit. There’s even a brand that uses 3D modeling technology for custom wraps that fit your exact nail bed.

How to Prep Your Nails

Always start with a fresh base before applying nail wraps. Remove any old polish, push cuticles back, and file nails to your desired shape. Skip the base coat, which can prevent the strip from adhering to the nail properly. Swipe acetone over your nails, even if they’re not painted, to eliminate any oils that could affect the ability of the wraps to adhere to your nail. Lastly, gently buff the nail beds to avoid any ridges.

How to Use Nail Wraps for an Effortlessly Cool Manicure

Tips to Increase Longevity

Like any manicure, nail wraps will last longer if you protect your hands from moisture, heat, gardening, and any other activity that’s rough on your hands. Keep these tips in mind once you apply nail wraps.

  • While it’s not necessary, consider blow-drying your nails after applying nail wraps to help the strip adhere to your nail bed for longer wear.
  • Wear gloves when washing dishes or cleaning with chemicals.
  • Avoid lotions and oils around the nails.
  • Avoid heat sources because heat can weaken the adhesive.
  • If a nail chips, most brands will have extra stickers so you can easily replace.
  • When you’re ready to remove your wraps, soak nails for a few seconds with regular nail polish remover to gently loosen the sticker.
  • Avoid peeling the wraps, which may damage nails.


Nail wraps are a great alternative to nail polish because of their easy application, the variety of designs, and the ability to choose a cleaner nail art option. With no drying time required, you can simply apply and go with no risk of smudges. If you’re looking to grow your nails long or trying to salvage weak nails, nail wraps can cover flaws without causing further damage (just avoid picking and peeling!). The hardest part might be picking your favorite design!

By Danielle Emig

Danielle Emig is a freelance writer and lipstick lover living in New York City. Originally from Portland, she moved to the big city with only a suitcase full of shoes and a mind bursting with dreams. It was her desire for adventure that led her to NYC, and even working unpaid internships and odd jobs to make ends meet — like cocktail waitressing at a pirate-themed bar — wouldn’t deter her from making it as a writer and editor. Two years later, she landed at InStyle Magazine and hasn’t looked back since. When she’s not sipping out of a lipstick-stained wineglass, Danielle loves to cook, make jewelry, and hang out on her fire escape.