Achieve a salon manicure look for less with Sally Hansen’s new polish strips

The Product: We all love to treat ourselves to a salon manicure, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. Whether you’re strapped for time or cash, Sally Hansen’s new Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips are the next best thing. The easy-to-apply strips come in an array of colours and patterns—from bright neons and sparkly metallics to trendy nail art—and need no drying time. Each kit contains 16 polish strips, a cuticle stick, a file and step-by-step instructions to make the application seamless.

The Process: To prep, I washed my hands, pushed back my cuticles and filed and buffed my nails. Then a swipe of nail polish remover got rid of any traces of old lacquer, oil and dirt, to ensure the strips stick on as well as possible. To apply, I chose the best-fitting strip for each nail and carefully placed it along the cuticle line, holding the strip in the centre for control. (My favourite pattern, shown, is “Laced Up,” a faux-fabric print in black and cream.) After smoothing the strip onto my nail, I bent the excess over the nail edge and removed it carefully with clippers (though you could also shape it with the file included). Apply a clear topcoat for extra staying power, and just repeat every few days to keep your manicure in tip-top shape. A word of warning: The strips will dry out if the packaging is left open, so don’t open it until you’re ready to apply.

The Payoff: It took me about 30 minutes to apply the strips (but with practice, you’d probably get speedier), and I was left with a flawless patterned manicure that required zero drying time. The strips are perfect for an impromptu night out, and with so many colours and patterns to choose from, you can spice up your tips on a weekly basis without doing major damage to your bank account.—Lindsay MacAdam

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips from Sally Hansen, $10 per kit. At Wal-Mart and select drugstores and mass retailers.