Review of Swatch Strips by The Painted Nail

swatch-stripsI purchased some Swatch Strips from The Painted Nail to try out (available for purchase at Everything Nailz).  I demoed these last summer while attending a party in Vegas that was hosted by The Painted Nail.  Swatch Strips are clear strips with an adhesive backing that you stick onto your nails and then paint over.  The package says you can wear the strips under regular nail polish, gel polish, acrylic, etc.  When you are ready to change your nails up, you just peel off the strip and start over… no soaking required.  It also says that the strips will last up to two weeks, so naturally I was curious to see how these would hold up with a gel manicure.

Here is a photo of the packaging, front and back. The back side has directions.  You can click on the image for a larger view.



The Swatch Strips are pretty easy to apply.  You prep and cleanse your nails and then choose a swatch strip that fits the size of your nails.  You peel the strip off of the sheet and press it onto your nail while gently pulling on the top of the strip to stretch it slightly.  You crease the strip at the tip of your nail and file off the excess.  If you’ve ever used nail wraps, it’s a very similar process.  I had much more success applying these than any wrap I’ve ever tried.  I didn’t get many bubbles, lumps, wrinkles, etc.  They went on nice and smooth and adhered very well.  The whole application process only took a few minutes.


My nails are actually pretty narrow and small, so I used the 5 smallest size strips that were on the sheet… there are 8 different sizes total.  Some of them were slightly too big and had to trim them a touch.  The three larger sizes are way too big for any of my nails or my thumbnail, so they can only be used if I take the time to cut them down to size which I have no desire to do.  I could get 4 full manicures out of the package of 64 strips, and a couple more if I size down the larger strips.

Also, when looking at the sheet of swatch strips, because they’re clear and the sheet is clear, it’s impossible to tell which ones have been used already and how many strips are still available on the sheet.   It’s very hard to tell by touch also.  The only way I could find unused strips was just by trying to peel them off of the sheet.  Below is a picture of a sheet that I used.  Can you tell which ones are used, because I can’t?  You can also see how little my thumbnail is in comparison to the larger strip sizes here.



My first wear test was rather unsuccessful.  I painted the gel polish right onto the strip without a base coat.  Over the course of a couple of days, the polish popped off of every single nail in a whole sheet. I keep reapplying with different brands to see if any brand would stick, but they all reacted the same way.  I tried Kiara Sky, Gelish, Pink Gellac and ibd.  Then I thought… what would happen if I used a base coat?

Aha!!  The base coat was the answer to my problem.  On my next test I applied all Gelish products – base, color (Plum & Done) and top coat.   Below is what my nails looked like after applying a fresh set of swatch strips and Gelish Plum & Done.  They looked pretty good.  There are a couple of spots where the swatch strip was bubbled out slightly, but all in all they looked decent.  I did cap the tips of my nails, but I was essentially capping my natural nail since the strips were filed off at the tip.

swatch-strips-after-applicationI wore this manicure for 7 days and the polish stayed in place this time, as did the swatch strips to my surprise.  I thought they’d start lifting after a few showers, but they really do adhere to your nails very well and they don’t come off until you peel them off.  After a week the tips of my nails looked a little worn, but I felt pretty confident that the strips were still strongly in place and would have lasted a while longer yet.  I opted to take them off so I could move onto my next product test.  :)  Here’s how they looked after a week (I didn’t remember to take the pic on the same background).



The removal process was also very easy.  Starting at the base of my nails, I lifted a corner and slowly peeled them off.  They were stuck pretty good, but they came off ok. I had quite a bit of sticky residue left on my nails, but that came right off with some polish remover and a lint-free wipe.  Below is a picture of what my nails looked like right after taking the strips off.  Note that this is NOT DAMAGE, it is sticky residue.



I am pretty impressed with the swatch strips.  I only tried it with gel polish so far, but it says you can use the strips under acrylic as well, so I may have to test that out once I hit that chapter in nail school. This is a great option for people that have difficulty soaking off gel polish, and it’s also great for people that want to change their gel polish somewhat frequently.  They cost  $12.95 per pack (64 strips) or you can buy 3 packs for $34.95.   You will only get about 4 full manicures out of a pack, so the price seems a little steep to me.

Dashing Diva also has a very similar product called Nail Guards.  I also tried these while I was in Vegas.  The concept is the same, it’s a clear guard that sticks to your nails that you can polish over and then peel off when you’re done.  The major difference between the two is that the Nail Guards are a little easier to apply because they have a white tab that lets you hold onto the tip while you’re placing it on the nail.  I haven’t done an official wear test on this brand and I don’t know the pricing, but thought it was worth mentioning.

13 Responses

  1. Liszt Fanatic says:

    I noticed yesterday that is selling a product (called Gel Off) in a bottle that’s a peelable base coat. If it lasts for 7 days, then it would be a comparable product without trimming and the waste — for $4.99 per bottle.

    My nails are prone to peeling anyway, so I’m reluctant to try any product that peels. And I have difficult soak offs!

  2. joanna says:

    Yes Ive been curious about the BMC peel off base too.

  3. kelliegonzo says:

    I am so glad you tried these out! I’ve been hoping someone would review them. I don’t know if they would be super beneficial to me, but it’s a cool concept.

  4. JKP says:

    You mention nail school, are you going to get your manicuring license?

  5. Brooke says:

    Hi – I had a question. I just started doing gel nails at home. I have been working on my swatch sticks and even after all the curing and alcohol cleaning after – my swatch sticks still feel very squishy. I have even cured them for longer times and some still feel that way. I even went back and felt some that I had done a week ago and they still had that squishy feeling to them – which I have noticed is attracting any dust, lint, hair blowing through the air near them. I have the gelish 18g lamp and I have used all gelish products from base to top coat. Am I missing something? Thanks!

  6. Libby in WI says:

    My ring and middle fingers are in horrible shape due to too many layers and bad soak offs. These might just help them grow out! Super excited to see your BMC peel off review too.

  7. Sheneise says:

    Thanks for the review, this is an interesting concept. My husband is worried about the UV lamp I use (I told him about the gloves) but he is still worried about the acetone & I told him Nail Mates my help w/ less acetone on my skin. I am not really worried about either but I mean I understand where he is coming from. This is a great alternative to acetone removal & seems a lot faster.

  8. Anita says:

    Do you think you could paint these before applying them? I love doing my own nails but my off hand is not as talented as my dominant one.