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An instant manicure is a set of dry enamel strips that a person can press onto her nails like stickers. The strips are designed to be more convenient than liquid nail polish, as well as have less of a chemical smell. Each strip combines the usual bottom coat, color, and base coat into a single layer, which allows the user to get the look of a professional manicure without having to wait for her nail varnish to dry.
These kits usually include a package of pre-cut dry nail strips in various colors. The nail strips come in a range of sizes to fit each nail, and some duplicates in case any of the nail strips need to be re-applied. The strips have a plastic film covering them, so that the user can handle them without chipping the varnish.
Applying an instant manicure requires some of the same steps as preparing to put on liquid nail polish. First, the user should make sure her nails are clean and dry. She should remove any traces of previous polish with nail polish remover. If necessary, she should trim and shape her nails, and smooth down any ridges with a nail file. The cuticles should also be pushed back.
After the nails have been prepared, the user should detach a nail strip of the proper size from the pack. It is recommended that she start with her smallest fingers when applying, and end with the thumb. This helps prevent chipping, since the user will most likely be using her thumb and pointer fingers the most during application.
The instant manicure strip should be centered on the nail, lined up with the cuticle. The strips are durable enough that if the first placement is crooked, the person who is applying the manicure may be able to lift it up and reapply. The strip should be gently smoothed down, folding the edge under the nail. The plastic coating should not be removed until after the strip is placed on the nail.
If the strip is not an exact fit for the nail, the user can use a fingernail or a cuticle knife to trim the excess. If any gets on the skin, it should rub off easily. To remove an instant manicure completely, a cotton ball dipped in a bit of nail polish remover can be used.
The label "instant manicure" has also been applied to other nail care and hand care products. Some brands of hand creme are called instant manicures, even though they condition the skin rather than the nails. Another product, called an instant french manicure, claims to be able to re-whiten manicures that have become yellowed when applied.
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