One of my multiple bad habits is biting my nails, which is not only an unfortunate tendency because of its obvious disgustingness, but also because of how aesthetically unpleasing my hands have become. While a manicure inhibits my nibbling, it only does so until that first nail chips (which is often only 2 or 3 days after I’ve gotten my nails done), at which point I begin to peel off the rest of the polish. Even without the chipping, getting my nails done as often as I need to in order to curb my nail biting is expensive. I thought about getting a gel manicure, but after a friend told me that the substance weakened her nails, I decided against it.

As I perused the racks at CVS one day, I came across a large shelf dedicated to Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. Each little box was advertised as having “no dry time” and the ability to last “up to 10 days.” A nearby sign indicated that over 20 different styles are offered: everything from a floral pattern that Katy Perry would covet to leopard print and other intricate patterns that would be impossible to physically paint onto a nail are all normally available. But at my local CVS there were only two packages left. The cashier explained that the patterned nail strips were huge sellers and that they had to order more every single day. I picked up one of the two boxes, both labeled “Cry Baby.” Though this shade of pink is obviously the reject shade, at least in my neighborhood, I had high hopes for the strips themselves. Each package costs as much as my typical manicure does: $13 (including tax). Despite the price tag, I was willing to give these a try primarily because of my hope that they really would last for 10 days.

Inside the box, I found 16 nail polish strips, a small nail file with three differently textured surfaces, a cuticle stick and a set of directions. Each nail strip varies in size, and even opposite ends of the same strip are different; one is rounder and one is more square, making it easier to find the perfect shape for your nails. I applied the first strip to my pinky, and worked in towards my thumb. The process goes something like this: select the best strip for each nail, peel the strip off of the backing paper, place the strip on the cuticle line, smooth the strip down over the nail and finally, crease the excess strip over the nail and file it away.

I won’t say the process was easy; I definitely messed up a few nails by placing the strips too far down over the cuticle or by filing off excess strip and accidentally taking too much off. Plus, it was time consuming – it took me about 35 – 40 minutes to finish doing my nails (though I was very slow and meticulous about it). But I have to say, my nails looked great. And the second hand was much easier to do than the first hand was. I’m positive that the application process just takes a little practice. Other than the benefit of no dry time and the fact that these strips did, indeed, last 10 days (with only very minor chipping the last day), I learned that if your nails are small or normal sized and you are economic about the way you file excess strip, you can easily get two manicures out of one package. $6.50 for a manicure that lasts 10 days? Not bad.

Another plus is the product’s ingredients. I know of no nail polish that is truly “green,” or “natural” or void of all nasty ingredients. But Sally Hansen Nail Strips don’t have formaldehyde resin, formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate, all common nail polish ingredients that are known to be toxic. While the formula isn’t perfect – it contains benzophenone-3 (also known as oxybenzone) and ferric ammonium ferrocyanide, a respiratory toxin – the amounts of these ingredients seem to be quite limited, as they are listed towards the bottom of the label.

Overall, I highly recommend Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish strips for their unique and varying patterns and colors, their ability to last as long as the package says it does (a rarity), and for their price to quality ratio.

Nitrocellulose, Polyethylene Teraphthalate, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol/Trimelitic Anhydride Copolymer, Bis Propane/ Bisaminomethylnorbornane Copolymer (Glycidoxyphenyl), Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Triphenyl Phosphate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Butyl Acetate, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Polyvinyl Butyral, Acrylates Copolymer, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Shellac Cera/ Shellac Wax, Dihydroxyethyl Cocamine Oxide, Benzophenone 3, Silica, Tin Oxide

May Contain: (+/-):, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI77499), D&C Red 6 Barium Lake (CI 15850), D&C Red 7 Calcium Lake (CI 15850), FD&C Blue 1 Aluminum Lake (CI 42090), FD&C Yellow 5 Aluminum Lake (CI 19140), D&C Yellow 10 aluminum lake (CI 47005), D&C Orange 5 (CI 45370), D&C Yellow 11 (CI 47000), D&C Red 22 (CI 45380), D&C Red 28 (CI 45410), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Aluminum Powder (CI 77000)