Do Nail Polish Strips Damage Nails?

Nail polish strips have gained popularity for their easy application, no-mess process, and endless design options. But do these convenient strips harm your nails? Many people ask this, so we've looked into it. Read on to learn about nail polish strips, their lasting power, and how to remove them safely.

Are nail strips safe to use?

Nail polish color strips are 100% real polish, so they are no different than regular nail polish. If you have no issues using regular polish, you should not have any issues using nail polish strips.

A woman showing her gorgeous nail polish work from the salon

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Nail polish strips are easier on your nails than having acrylic nails applied. Nail polish strips have an adhesive backing, but it shouldn't be a concern for most people. Even the adhesive is gentle, safe, and non-toxic.

If ethics and chemicals are a concern, there are brands available that are cruelty-free and 10-free. If you find that manicures or nail polish cause damage to your nails, then nail strips will probably be no different.

To avoid nail damage, use a base coat before applying nail polish strips to add a layer of protection to your nail bed.

When using a nail strip product that isn't 100% nail polish, check your packaging for ingredients and the application process to determine if you feel the product is safe for your nails.

They look the same, but what am I really getting?

Before diving in, let's clarify some terms and highlight key differences. If you prefer genuine nail polish, remember that products might appear similar but can vary significantly.

Always check the packaging or product description carefully to understand exactly what you're buying. Here are some terms you might come across when searching for nail polish strips:

1. Nail Polish Strips

Nail polish strips are pre-fab bed nail-sized fragments of genuine nail polish. Each segment has an adhesive backing that sticks directly to the nail bed. They come in gel polish or regular polish and are just like their counterpart from the bottle.

Only the application process is different. Nail Polish strips are often referred to by their brand name. Popular brands include Color Street and Deck the Nails.

2. Nail Strips

This product looks and works the same way as nail polish color strips, but the nail polish is missing. The product is commonly made from polyurethane and coated with a gel coating for a shiny look. A common brand you might find is Dashing Diva.

3. Nail Decals

Nail decals are similar to a transfer product used years ago to decorate nails. They are designs on special paper that react to water. Once wet, they can be applied to nails, painted or unpainted, to add a touch of artwork.

4. Nail Stickers

Nail stickers come in two main types: full-size color strips, often made of vinyl, and smaller decorative art stickers for adding details to your nails. They are usually cheaper and can last a few days with a topcoat, but they don't last as long as polish strips.

Art stickers add texture and can be changed frequently, as they easily peel off with warm water without harming the nail color beneath.

5. Nail Wraps

Nail wrap typically refers to reinforcement products added to nails during a manicure for added strength.

Wraps can be made from thin materials like paper, linen, fabric, or fiberglass and seal onto the nail with resin. However, there are gel wraps that are applied to nails.

Is it bad to peel off nail polish strips?

Yes, anytime you peel nail polish strips or even regular nail polish from your nails, you are removing layers from your nail bed. If you do this too often, you will damage your nails. You may start seeing your nails split and peel, break or become brittle.

Top view photo of a woman removing nail polish

If you are already experiencing nail damage, stop using nail strips until the damage grows out. Use a nail strengthener to help repair the damage. Then use a fortified base coat to strengthen and protect your nail when using nail strips again.

Speaking of base coat, we have a guide on "How Many Nail Polish Coats Should You Apply?" that offers insights that could enhance your nail care routine.

How do you remove nail polish strips?

Removing nail polish strips is easy. Here's how to do it:

1. Use a nail polish remover, opting for a non-acetone type if your nails are sensitive or damaged.

2. Soak your nails in the remover or apply it directly with a cotton ball, makeup sponge, or towelette.

3. Press the soaked material against your nail for a few seconds to loosen the polish.

4. Gently rub the nail bed to remove the color. You might need a second pass for any stubborn spots.

5. For a hands-free option, use nail polish remover clips. This method requires remover and cotton pads but lets all nails soak at once without needing to hold the pads in place.

If you are interested in purchasing a set of nail polish remover clips, consider this 12 piece set from Teenitor.

To watch a tutorial check out this YouTube video.

How long do nail polish strips last?

Since nail polish strips are genuine nail color, expect similar results. If you take great care of them, they can last up to 2 weeks. However, most people report 5-7 days.

For the best longevity, prepare your nails as you would for a regular manicure. Skipping prep may prevent strips from sticking well due to oil and uneven surfaces. Even if strips include a base and top coat, applying them separately can help.

Durability varies with the product's quality; non-pure polish strips might only last a few days, while high-quality ones could last up to 10 days.

What can you use to strengthen nails?

Sometimes your nails need some extra TLC. Nails become soft and brittle when layers of keratin are diminished. Harsh chemicals, overfiling, and peeling off adhesive remove layers from your nailbed.

Damaged nails due to unethical practice of nail polish removal

Hiding damaged nails under fake nails, a manicure, or even nail color seems like a good solution, but it's probably only doing more damage.

Occasionally, give your nails a break and let the damage grow out. Then do your best to protect and strengthen them when you return to your normal routine.

According to dermatologists, you can take steps to help strengthen nails, like frequently using hand moisturizer, especially if you frequently use hand sanitizer, avoiding acetone for polish removal, and staying hydrated.

There are prescription products that can strengthen and repair damaged nails, but an over-the-counter product will do the job for most people.

Consider this best-selling professional strengthening cream by Onyx.

View on Amazon.

For other nail options, check out this article, "Acrylic Nails: Advantages And Disadvantages."

Nail Care Made Simple

If you are looking for an alternative to expensive manicures or don't like the mess that can come with nail color in the bottle, nail polish strips may be for you. They are just as safe and won't damage your nails any more than a manicure if you follow the proper steps.

Help others discover this too! Post the image below on your social media like Pinterest or Facebook, and spread the joy!

Removing nail polish using acetone and a piece of cotton, Do Nail Polish Strips Damage Nails?

One comment

  1. You’re absolutely right that if you try to peel off nail polish strips, you will almost always damage your fingernails. One thing that I’ve found that helps reduce the amount of damage caused by nail strips is how long they have been on your nails. The shorter the amount of time, the less they will be damaged. And this can happen whether you use nail wraps, nail stickers, or nail polish strips. Some people’s fingernails can be more prone to damage than others, so you really have to just learn which nail polish strips are best for you.

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