Although I wish I had one easilyafter eight months of quarantine, DIY beauty is my new normal these days. Before the pandemic, I loved getting a gel manicure because it lasts so long and I didn̵
Since gel manicures are a multi-step process that requires special equipment and products, most people do them in salons, many of which are closed by 2020. It’s been way too long since I’ve had a gel manicure so I was curious about doing it at home, but I didn’t take the plunge until I got thestick-on gel manicures on Instagram.
Now, before you roll your eyes at the idea of stick-on nails – listen to me. These are not your daily sticky nails; they are custom gel manicure stickers made to fit your own nail shape, which the company does with 3D modeling and laser cutting.
ManiMe CEO Jooyeon Song said she first developed the idea at Stanford Business School with classmate and co-founder David Miró Llopis. “Before joining ManiMe, I had a background in 3D modeling from a previous position at an automotive design center, which gave me the idea to integrate this technology. We then decided to laser cut sheets of gel polish instead of the gel harden directly on the nails of the customers’, says Song.
I have to admit I was skeptical that nail polish sheets could look like gel manicures, but once I tried this one, I was impressed with how similar the end result looked and felt like a salon gel manicure. Song says the way the nail stickers fit and feel is that the nail polish is not completely “cured”, leaving them stretchy and moldable while you apply them. In a traditional gel manicure, a UV light is used to cure the gel polish so that it becomes rock hard.
“Because it is 60% cured using a UV coating fluid on a self-adhesive sheet, ManiMe provides malleability so that the stickers perfectly enclose the nail shape, creating a true gel manicure look without the harsh chemicals of a salon” Song says.
How ManiMe gets a perfect fit for your nails
Before ordering your manicure from ManiMe, you should have your nails “scanned” to get the right fit. To do this, just take a few pictures of your nails and send them to the company. Frankly, it surprises me that they can build a 3D model from simple iPhone photos.
“Our computer vision and machine learning algorithm will detect the nail and estimate the shape, size and curvature. Then each gel sticker is laser cut to the exact shape of each customer’s nail. Our goal is to make it very simple for customers. give us their unique nail size and that’s why we only request a few photos with their smartphone, ”says Song.
To make the process simple, ManiMe will walk you through the steps on how to take pictures of your nails. You will take five pictures in total – one of your left fingers, left thumb, four right fingers, right thumb and the front of your nails, so that ManiMe can see the shape and curvature.
Once these are submitted, the team will review and laser cut your decals, and your manicure will ship in approximately three to four business days if the photos were sufficient for the 3D modeling. I had to resubmit a few of my photos after the first try, but the whole turnaround was still pretty quick.
How are these different from other nail stickers?
Gel nail polish stickers have been around for a number of years, but they are not custom made for your exact nails. Normally, you should choose a size that best fits your nails and trim as needed for a perfect fit. That’s what sets ManiMe apart.
Home gel kits aren’t new either, but you will need to varnish your nails and cure the paint with a UV lamp. With a ManiMe kit, you don’t need to paint or cure, but you will get the same long-lasting results as a typical gel manicure.
The manicure experience
Once the nails arrived I was excited to see how they turned out. Once I opened the package, I realized it might not be as simple as “peel and stick” as I initially thought, so I watched the company’s helpful video that walked you through the steps.
I wiped my nails with the prep wipe that comes in the package and used their base coat first (not required, but it can make the nails last longer). I peeled and glued the first nail and was a little confused by how long it was. Then I realized they had to send them a bit long in case your nails grow in the time between ordering and actually using the manicure.
You just knead the nail polish sticker over the nail and it stretches quite easily. Once smoothed, fold the excess material over the nail edge and then file or cut the excess. This part was a bit tricky, but the company’s video gives some tips on how to do this without ruining the manicure.
After those first few nails, I found the process to be pretty quick and easy – but it does take some patience, as all good things do. For me, the process was much less stressful than sitting in a salon for hours (even without the pandemic complications).
Finally, I applied the ManiMe top coat which is supposed to help set the manicure and prolong the wear. The company says I should avoid showering or wearing lotion right after you apply the manicure, but once the top coat dried I was fine for my day.
The end result
I was super impressed with the end result and that the manicure really looks and feels like a gel manicure. At about $ 15 to $ 25 per manicure, that’s still less expensive than a salon gel manicure, which can set you back well over $ 50. They would also last as long as a salon gel manicure – about 10 days according to Song. And with every manicure, you get five extra nails, so if any one breaks or you mess up while applying it, you have a backup.
My manicure lasted for seven days before some of the nail polish stickers started to peel off. I could have replaced the several that were peeling off to prolong the wear but decided to go ahead and get them all removed as my nails were getting long and needed a trim.
The removal process is quite simple – you just peel the stickers off. Most came off easily, but the brand does say you can soak your nails in water if you’re having problems. The stickers left a bit of a tacky nail polish residue on some of my nails, but that was easy to remove with a quick swipe of nail polish remover. Instead, to remove a traditional gel manicure, soak the nail polish in acetone or nail polish remover.
Shall I give up salon gel manicures for good? I’m not sure about that. But for now, ManiMe’s nails are just as good as a salon gel manicure I’ve had in eight months and they didn’t run the risk of going to a salon, which is pretty great if you ask me.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.