I always have enjoyed taking care of my nails, either professionally or with an at-home manicure. I’m lucky to have strong nails with large nail beds, that look good even when short, but unfortunately my cuticles tend to grow with my nails, so it’s a never ending battle keeping them in check.

Gel nail polish has been my go-to choice for the last several years for many reasons. I love the fact that my nails are completely dry when I leave the salon, the added thickness prevents my nails from braking and most importantly, they look amazing for weeks. But lately, I’ve noticed my hands looking noticeably older, and I can’t help to attribute that to the use of UV light to cure the gel nail polish. The heat radiating from the UV light had been bothersome the last several appointments, so I’ve given my nails (and hands) a break from it.

Going back to regular nail polish is not easy, drying time alone makes it inconvenient at best. So I decided to try an alternative. Enter Color Street Nail Strips! Only once before I attempted nail strips, but those were merely glorified stickers, and even though their designs were very appealing, they felt incredibly heavy on my nails, and ended up fraying relatively quickly.

Color Street on the other hand is real nail polish, so I was excited to give it a try. The first couple of strips were a little tricky to apply. The strip itself is so thin that it easily sticks to the nail, so adjusting it after takes some maneuvering. I was careful not to stretch it too much, to avoid deforming the pattern.

After applying the first two nails I got the hang of it, and before long both hands were done. The colors I picked were vibrant and the coverage was good. It was still important to let the strips dry completely in order to avoid any scratching. So I recommend skipping doing the dishes right after application. The next day the color was completely set, and I went about my business.

I got several compliments on the color I chose, and I’m looking forward to trying the French tips I received with my first order. I’m also interested in experimenting with some of the patterns available, as well as layering strips to create a more custom look, so the possibilities are endless.

Over the course of a week or so, the strips held up better than regular nail polish. There was minimal chipping and the color didn’t fade. The removal process was as simple as removing regular nail polish. I let the polish remover soaked cotton ball sit on each nail for about a minute, and a few swipes later my nails were clean. There was no residue and my natural nails did not look discolored.

Each Color Street set contains 16 different size strips, and retails for $11 for a solid shade to $13 for more complex patterns and limited edition options.

The final result did not compare to a gel manicure, the shine was good, but not mirror finish, but for the amount of effort and cost it’s definitely worth trying.