I have a secret: I’m not very good with makeup. My mother does not wear a lot of makeup, and as a result, she was never able to teach me during my formative teenage years, when I piled on foundation and electric blue eyeshadow in equal measure. Over the years, I’ve learned by trial and error, but one facet of makeup still continues to cause me trouble: nails. I’m one of those people who get a manicure and find scratches and chips in the polish by the end of the day. A few years ago, I stumbled upon the secret of gel polish, and I was amazed that it could withstand even my harsh reality. As a result, I invested in gel manicures and even bought one of those home kits to apply my own gel polish on my own.
Given my rocky history with both makeup and nails, I was skeptical when I first heard of Espionage Cosmetics nail wrap,. I’m a geek girl, and proud of it, so naturally I was attracted by the bright colors and beautiful designs of this wonderful nail art. Since they are essentially ‘stickers’, designs on nail wraps can be very intricate and involve many colors. Current designs include dice, chainmail, slime, Pacman ghosts, Tron, Borderlands 2, Girl Genius and Bitch Planet, among others.
I was eager to try nail wraps for myself, but fear of the unknown held me back. I’ve always had such disastrous luck with nail polish, and I feared that I would damage the nail wraps shortly after applying them onto my hands.
All of this changed at San Diego Comic Con 2015, when I discovered that Espionage Cosmetics had a booth on the exhibit hall floor, and I dropped by, unable to tear my eyes from the cool designs. A kind attendant offered a demonstration, applying a nail wrap to one of my fingers as I watched, showing me the application technique. It looked so easy! The nail wraps were so beautiful! Next thing I knew, I was leaving with a bag full of nail art just waiting to be applied.
So how did the nail wraps hold up? Were they worth the purchase? As with most things, the answer is complicated, but overall, I would come out on the side of yes. Certainly I had my ups and downs with these nail wraps, and a love/hate relationship has been established. But overall the good has outweighed the bad, and I recently purchased more nail wraps for future occasions.
The original batch that I purchased has been worn exclusively at cons, specifically GenCon, New York Comic Con, Silicon Valley Comic Con, WonderCon and Emerald City Comic Con. I plan to wear nail wraps to these conventions again.
The wraps are easy to apply. They are essentially ‘stickers’, that you peel off and press onto your nail, being careful to place them properly and ensure that there are no air bubbles underneath. You can use scissors to cut the nail wraps to size/shape, but most of the time, I found that to be unnecessary. Each package comes with 14 nail wraps, meant to cover two hands. And yes, I know your math senses are tingling: there are 4 extra wraps. This is because there are 7 different sizes for each hand, allowing you to find the sizes that fit best with your fingers, whether your hands are large, medium or small.
Once the nail wrap (sticker) is in place, you have to fold the end of the wrap over the edge of your nail, then use a nail file or emery board to cut off the excess. When the process is complete, a clear top coat is recommended. I personally use my home gel manicure kit to apply a gel topcoat, given my unfortunate nail history.
If you want more details regarding application, you can watch Espionage Cosmetics’ official instructional video here.
Amazingly, even with my clumsy skills, it only took me a couple of applications to get into a groove and figure out how to make my nails look good. If you’re a perfectionist and you want to make sure you know what you’re doing, I would recommend applying a full set for a ‘low profile’ occasion before wearing the nail wraps to a more significant event.
When you’re done, the nail wraps are easy to remove, peeling off with minimal effort from the base of the nail. A good ‘rub’ with your fingertip will remove any excess glue.
Of course the real question is: how long do the nail wraps last? On the Espionage Cosmetics website, they claim that the wraps will last for up to 2 weeks. I have attempted to wear them for this long, but I have found that my upper limit is definitely 1 week. Even with the gel top coat and following the instructions for application to the letter, I begin to see wear at the tips of my nails after only a day or two. You can see examples on the right of my nails immediately after application and a few days later, at the end of a con. Because of this limited life, I never plan on wearing them for more than a few days: literally the length of an entire convention.
Seeing as I have such bad luck with wearing at the nail edges, I took the opportunity at Emerald City Comic Con to visit the Espionage Cosmetics booth to ask what I was doing wrong. The attendant did her best to be helpful, even passing me along to some higher-ups, but the only advice they could give me was to do what I was already doing (make sure the nail wrap and topcoat go around the outside edges of the nail, and to use a gel topcoat). So I guess this is my natural ‘bad nail luck’ coming through.
So after all of this, my verdict is that I have a love/hate relationship with nail wraps.
- Great designs
- 7 different sizes per hand means minimal/no cutting/shaping of wraps
- Make my nails look fantastic
- Usually not difficult to apply
- Tendency for wraps to peel from nail tips in first few hours after application
- Wear shows easily along nail edges
- Many of my favorite designs have been discontinued and can no longer be purchased
Overall, the love outweighs the hate and I plan to wear nail wraps again to future cons!
If you’re interested in Espionage Cosmetics nail wraps, they can be purchased online at Espionage Cosmetics. Most sets cost $10. If you visit an Espionage Cosmetics booth at a convention (they have been to both San Diego Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con and Rose City Comic Con, among others, over the last year) they usually run a ‘Buy 5 Get 1 Free’ special at convention booths, and of course, there is no shipping cost. If you’re uncertain, I encourage you to drop by their booth if you see them at a con, and ask for a demo.
You’ll see me and my dressed-up nails at more cons in the future.