Life before marriage, home ownership, multiple kids and pets I would find time to take myself to the salon for a nice manicure. I’d get French tips or acrylics with fun airbrush designs. It was so nice.

Now I think…. dang that’s a tank of gas and someone to babysit the kids plus finding someone I like to do my nails. Ugh not worth it, and I’d slap on a layer of nail polish at night while the kids were in bed. My fabulous nails would last one, maybe two days then I’d have to hide my chipped nail polish or clean it off and start over. Not exactly the best time management process. For full disclosure, I do not wear cleaning gloves while washing dishes or cleaning the house. This may effect your own results as well.

Apparently I’m not the only one with this dilemma because a few companies have come up with some alternative solutions to the nail salon. HALLELUJAH! Gel polish has also become more popular and easier to apply at home. Sure the drug stores carry a lot of brands and options, including sticker nails, glue on nails and even acrylic options (ok that one is at the beauty supply store). But still there are many options and promises of long lasting fantastic nails. For the purpose of this review I chose to narrow the options down and look at some home business/direct sale companies: Jamberry nail strips, ColorStreet polish strips and Avon’s gel polish.

Nail polish has come a long way and there are MANY options out there. I chose Avon’s 7 layer gel brand as it is closest to getting a gel manicure at the salon without leaving your house. Avon delivers on its promise of one layer application for long lasting durable nail polish. The color is thick and easily applies to my nails. For $10 you get a bottle and your choice of color. I found a pretty teal color and used that baby. One application was enough for full coverage on my nails with no touch ups. For a nail polish it also dried fairly quickly. I was impressed. The 7-in-1 polish lasted longer than my average drug store nail polish. When it came time to remove the polish it does take a bit more polish remover. I actually used acetone polish remover. There are a lot of images of the gel polish colors and finish here. It is a great product and you can use it with other nail decals as well.
PROS:
great colors
strong finish
long lasting

PROS                                                             CONS 
-long lasting                                                -more effort to remove than regular polish 
-great colors                                                -shortest wear time of 3 products 
-built in base and top coat                        -wait for polish to dry
-strengthens nails
-$10/bottle
 
 
Jamberry has been around since 2010, a direct sales company started by three sisters. After nail polish, Jamberry was my first experience using a nail polish alternative. Admittedly I have quite the collection of these nails. Most designs are $15, including limited holiday prints. There are some (the licensed products) which cost more; Wonder Woman, NFL, NBA, Disney and Peanuts characters.

As you can see from my collection, I can get more than one application per sheet. My nails are longer and I have a larger nail bed than most women. Any of the sizes which do not fit directly on my nails I can trim or cut to use for a pedicure or future manicure.

To apply these nails you need to use heat. I have a mini-heater from Jamberry which is quiet and works quickly. Prior to the heater I used my hair dryer. The important aspect is to make sure there is enough heat before and after applying. Making sure the strip is applied firmly, evenly and only on the nail bed is important to the nails lasting. Also, air bubbles are your nemesis. Take the time to heat and apply these nails properly for unbelievably long-lasting nail designs.

Some of these sheets I have had for over a year and are still as usable as they were the day I bought them. I really like that I don’t have to wait for my nails to dry before doing something else. I can do my nails during the middle of the day if I want! Unfortunately tho i do need to wait at least an hour before getting my nails wet. So I will usually apply these at night before bed to allow ample setting time. Although I do not have to worry about letting my nails dry before going to sleep…

When I do want to remove my Jamberry I do have to soak my nails in acetone. There are other methods for removal but I find them to be time consuming, sometimes more so than the application process. Depending on your patience and process this could actually cause your nails to be left brittle and weak.

PROS                                                                        CONS
-multiple colors and patterns                             -time and application process
-other options outside nail appliques               -not always exact fit
-one sheet = multiple manis & pedis                 -time and process to remove
-lasts on fingers for two+ weeks                         -nail damage if not careful
-long “shelf” life
-no wet nails
-can pause and pick back up any time
-high durability

The idea behind Color Street, according to their site, began in 1984.  I have only recently begun to hear about Color Street and their direct sale products. I found a rep and she sent me some nail samples to try. I decided to try them on with some of my existing Jamberry nails to compare the longevity and durability.

img_1082      img_1083

As you can see from my nail beds and the remaining nails they both lasted a good time. Some of the ColorStreet nails lasted longer than the others. Jamberry: blue hearts and gold houndstooth. ColorStreet: remaining three nails.

ColorStreet was surprisingly easy to apply. Each order comes with a mini nail file and nail wipes to ensure a clean surface when applying. There is a slight scent of nail polish, nothing extreme or overpowering, even being pregnant it didn’t bother me.

Applying these nails requires not much more than is provided in each order. I found I could stretch the nails slightly to cover the edges of my nails when the nail polish strip was not quite the perfect size for my nail bed. Also one strip is enough for two nails. Easily enough I was able to apply the polish strip, slightly bend and apply it the other half to another nail. Finally simply file the edges to be the perfect fit and long lasting polish.

I did find the plain polish was not as long lasting as the other polish prints. It was still a great fit and color. I ordered a Halloween print and they lasted about 10 days, loved that they were glow in the dark too!

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For my birthday I was able to get a great deal from my ColorStreet rep. I found as my natural nails chipped or broke the nail polish strips would break off with the nail leaving the remaining polish on, unchipped and simply needing a quick filing. Below is the polish strips I wore for my birthday. They lasted almost two weeks until they started looking like this. You can see the growth in my nail beds but also where the polish had chipped away from my tips… I’m not dainty. (Let’s not talk about my dried and cracked cuticles right now ok? I promise they don’t look this bad ALL the time!)

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I did notice you must have a rep to shop from the ColorStreet site, which is slightly irritating. Overall I am pleasantly surprised by the product offered by ColorStreet. The prices range from $11-$14, depending on the style you choose. To remove these nails, treat them like polish. I use polish remover and q-tips or cotton balls.

PROS                                                                     CONS
-quick application                                              -chips (it is nail polish)
-no dry time                                                         -can tear
-great fit                                                                -must have rep to shop
-great price                                                           -smaller selection

Both Jamberry and ColorStreet offer deals in packages and multiple products purchased; for example, buy 3 get 1 free.

Overall the application process for ColorStreet is the best. In terms of longevity and durability, Jamberry wins this one. ColorStreet is best for price but choices are higher with Jamberry. If you still like the nail polish options, Avon 7-in-1 polish is fabulous but not my go-to any longer.  So depending on which is more important to you Jamberry or ColorStreet is your choice. For now I will continue using the Jamberry packs I have and eventually switch over to more ColorStreet as they are quicker to apply.

Want a sample of either Jamberry or ColorStreet? Let me know. Have you tried any of these or other salon alternative nail applications?

 

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