Thursday, August 9, 2012

tough as nails

Prelude: This is kiiiinda gonna be a product review. Which I don't normally do, because no one pays me to and mostly I'm narcissistic and I think my ridiculous banter is way more interesting (it is, right, mom?). First, though, I'm going to waste 4 paragraphs on a giant tangent/rant about packaging and copywriting. Stay with me. I'm worth it.

Seldom do I fall for the marketing jargon used to sell me products. I used to (and sometimes still do) write that garbage. 

Pretty packaging? I'm a sucker. Don't try to woo me with words, though. Chemicals disguised as whimsy? The Periodic Table of Make-Believe? Thesaurus trickery? Dude. I watched enough Columbo to see through your story.

The claims made by most beauty products are hilarious and ridiculous. Trademarked science-y sounding terms are my absolute favourite. Now with Bioteen™! Cellusmooth™! Lipoluxe™!

Are you patronizing me? 

I skip straight to the ingredients, usually. That's where the truth lies. You can't win me over with natural-sounding buzz words when you're crammed with carcinogens and things I can't pronounce. You might trick me for a bit with beautiful branding and gorgeous typefaces but when I shake myself out of package-porn drunkenness, I can sometimes discover the very best products. I've said it before: 100% Pure? Ugly branding, awesome product!

Like, edible-awesome.

I'm also not completely swayed by brand cachet. As in: your double-page $70 skin cream spread in Vogue doesn't mean I think you're more worthy than the $20 stuff I buy at the dusty smells-of-patchouli natural food store. Mostly because my frugal ways are deeply rooted, but also because I've used $8 shampoos that I've liked as much, if not more, than $30 shampoos. My favourite scrub is 4 bucks and my go-to mascara is 8. 

 [ beauty bests (on a dime): St. Ives scrub, Sally Hansen Salon Manicure, Live Clean hair care, Maybelline ONE by ONE ]

I believe in paying for quality when it comes to, say, denim. Or escorts. In beauty, though you're probably not getting much more for your money if you spend $40 over $10 on a lipstick. Same chemical soup. $30 in sexy packaging and ad space, probably. Hotshot copywriters would have you believe otherwise. 

"Reverses the aging process!" 


OK, so I will sometimes (in an optimistic, I-need-a-miracle state) buy these products with the hopes that the effect will be even half as spectacular as promised. I brace myself for disappointment and/or convince myself that I'm just OK with placebos this time.
It's pretty here in la-la land. 


OK, let's talk Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail strips.

I probably never would have picked them up on my own. If the horrific packaging and very skeptical claims like "lasts up to 10 days" weren't enough, a single use is $10. Strikes 1, 2, and 3. Nail polish, another item not worth the extra spend for premium brands, can run you on average $8 a bottle in the drug store. A bottle will last through several manicures. It's pretty easy math: one-time strips for $10, not worth it.

However, a friend bought me a set for my birthday recently. I applied them while watching TV with the Mister the other night. The aligning part is tricky, but otherwise they were pretty simple to apply. I thought they'd be more like stickers, but the effect is like polish in the end – flawless, seamless, flat. I wondered about using a top coat. I mean you ALWAYS need a top coat, right? The packaging mentioned nothing of top coats, so I didn't risk it. I suspected that they'd last a day or two before chipping/peeling. That's usually how long I can go without mussing up a mani.


Mine lasted ELEVEN DAYS. 

Not a single chip! No peeling, fading, dulling, rubbing off. Amazing! You could actually see nail growth. There was some very slight uniform wearing at the very tips, but it only became noticeable on the last day. I probably would have had a good 2 days left with them, but metallic animal print can get a little exhausting. Nail polish that outlasts my love of leopard print? Huh.

I like this idea too: use one strip as an accent!

 [ image c/o ]

So let's talk removal process. Sally Hansen claims that removal is "easy" with polish remover. Ominous cloud of skepticism. It couldn't be worse than their Gem Crush glitter polish, which basically annihilates cotton pads. It's gorgeous, but like it's like sandpaper. I read this helpful piece of glitter-coated wisdom a little too late.

The nail strips were, as promised, removable with regular polish remover. "Easy" might be a stretch, but the process didn't induce a sweat mustache and that's my effort benchmark. Sally Hansen does offer an extra strength version, just in case. Next time I might try the glitter polish technique. 

Overall, totally worth the $10 price tag! I think these would be especially great for vacations – no fuss! My only complaint is the variety of designs. I'm only a fan of a handful of them. Maybe that will save me from falling into financial ruin. Death by manicure.

My office mate discovered that Sephora carried a similar product (uh oh) and that the designs are way better. Unfortch, you pay for cachet (what did I tell you!?) and these puppies are going to run you $14. BUT, basic internet-sleuthin' revealed that some of the designs are currently on sale!

Yep, waaaaay better designs. Ikat, cherries, lace! Oh my. There's even a Betsey Johnson line! Some for 5 to 7 bucks, yo! This could get ugly...

I'm going to busy myself with my new (birthday-aquired) nail-stamping kit to save myself from forbidden spending. My shopping diet lives on!

I smell another product review. Yeesh, I really should be paid for this.

p.s. Another way-too-long blog post. I need to write more.

1 comment:

  1. I use these almost exclusively. Love them. I had a set on for 3 weeks and was still getting compliments!!! 3 weeks! I do use a top coat after a day or two as it encourages the edges to stay put and not curl up or get caught on anything. I also keep an eye out for sales on these and buy a few at a time on sale to reduce the price. Love.