Product Review: Incoco Nail Strips

If there’s one thing we have a love/hate relationship with, it’s painting our nails. Not belonging to the club that pays someone else to do it, we usually squeeze in some nail painting over the weekend if at all. Whether they’re shiny, sparkly, French-tipped, or patterned, a nice manicure (even a DIY one) is a welcome luxury—but we usually screw ours up before they dry. Enter the hate portion. So when New Jersey-based Incoco created an instant manicure with non-liquid nail polish, we had to give it a go. Two of us tested the strips: one of us a regular nail-painter (whose photographs are featured), the other decidedly not.

The Nail Painter:

I was definitely skeptical about these at first. But doubt gave way to simple curiosity. The strips consist of a base, color, and top coat all in one, and are somehow sandwiched between two layers of plastic, which you peel away before applying to your nails. I paint my nails somewhat regularly, and this sounds easy enough to me. And, surprisingly, it is. I opt for a set of black and blue zebra-striped glitter strips — each package comes with eight different size options for each hand. [Update: After closer examination of the package, I noticed each strip actually has two sizes, as the top is slightly wider than the bottom, meaning there are 16 size options for each hand.]

It’s a little slow going at first, but once I figure out which sizes to use and how to remove the excess, I realize these are significantly faster than using regular liquid polish. The best part? There’s no overwhelming chemical smell or waiting around for my nails to dry, leaving me free to pop open a can of 21st Amendment IPA. That sort of instant gratification is pretty priceless. But speaking of prices, the cost of each package of nail strips is $8. You could probably get two bottles of nail polish for that, and at least what, 60, 70 manicures out of them? So convenience, as usual, is costly.

But I have to admit, my nails look great — even if I could have made them look this good on my own, I would have had to sit around limp-wristed for at least an hour until they dried. I’m sort of smitten — but in reality, I would probably only shell out the cash for an $8 DIY manicure for a vacation or a special occasion. Until then, I’ll stick to the old-fashioned liquid stuff. I show off my new nail art to my roommate. He agrees that it looks pretty good, followed by a snort of amazement at the sort of BS girls will do to gussy themselves up.

Incoco claims the manicure will last two weeks, depending on your lifestyle. So far so good — after two days chipping is minimal, but seems to start at the edges and corners where the polish didn’t stick as well. I doubt they’ll last more than one week, but then again I’m not so sure I could handle these blue glitter babies much longer than that.

—Anne Vickman

The Naked-Nail Girl

Full disclosure: I am not normally what you would call well manicured. I paint my nails maybe twice a month, and I can count the times I’ve had them professionally done on one unpolished hand. My main deterrent is how much time it takes: From base to top coat, it eats up several hours, and I usually end up chipping or smudging the stuff along the way. So I was excited to try Incoco’s nail polish strips, which eliminate mess and, best of all, cut drying time down to zilch. If these strips work as well as HSN claims, I can finally join the ranks of the perpetually polished.

The color I’m testing is called 24 Karat, a party-worthy gold glitter — “very Carmela Soprano,” my boyfriend says . I peel the plastic off the largest one, remove the polish from its clear backing, and press it onto my thumbnail. I’m impressed with the perfect, unstreaky finish but things get a bit dicey when I try to remove the overhang from the top and sides. The material is slightly stretchy and seems easy to pull off, but I tear a bit too vigorously and dislodge a chunk from the edge of my nail. (Guess I should have watched the company’s instructional video before I started applying: It suggests filing the excess instead.) I use a shred of the discarded strip to patch the hole, which looks fine but mars the smooth coat (and probably wouldn’t work with a non-glitter shade). My nails are short enough that one strip covers two of them, meaning I can squeeze double-duty from one package. It takes me about 20 minutes from start to finish, and my sparkly manicure weathers two rounds of dishwashing and a long, hot shower.

Though the strips are a bit fiddly, I’m impressed — as is a colleague, who compliments my digits unprompted. Still, the cost and online-only availability are a major blow to that whole convenience factor. If someone were to gift me a lifetime supply of these, I’d happily use them — but until that happens, I’ll stick to plain old polish.

—Tanya Pai