iAm: Louisa Koh

SHILLS Aqua Skin Moisturizing Spray

A 30-something from sunny Singapore who's tried her hand at lots of things, such as selling skin care & make-up, working in a (boring) corporate setting, trying to carve a singing career, giving private tuition, being a fitness instructor, writing/editing etc...

Besides exasperating her parents to no end, she loves experimenting with new make-up looks, uncovering the best make-up & skin care products, modelling for herself before the camera, singing at the top of her lungs (with preferably no one to hear it), and writing whatever, whenever (as you can already tell).


louisa [at] louisakoh [dot] com

Nail Wraps vs Nail Polish

Hey lovelies, how have you been keeping? Very well, I hope! 😀 It’s been a month since my last post, and I’m thinking to myself: My, how time flies! (As a matter of fact, I had been preparing another nail post in between but I only managed to get past the photo selection and watermarking stage :P)

In this post, I’d like to share a few pointers on how nail wraps differ from nail polish: The good, the bad, and just maybe, the ugly, for the uninitiated.

I have been a polish gal for a year and a half now, since September 2012, but I started experimenting with nail wraps slightly less than a year ago.

NCLA Sugar Fix glitter nail polish (non-flash shot)

If you’re into nail polish but have not ventured into nail wraps, you can decide if the advantages are worth reneging, or at least, putting aside your nail polish occasionally for. If you hate nail polish for some reason (because it’s messy, it smells terrible, etc), you may find that nail wraps will give you the right reasons to want to adorn your nails again.

The Good

For those who have played with nail polish, you know what it feels like. For many years, I didn’t bother and couldn’t be bothered with nail polish because I thought it was messy (like, how do you ever not get polish on the skin around your nails, not to mention painting decently with your non-dominant hand???), smelt horrid (I am sensitive to strong chemical smells, including perfume), took too long… yeah, those were the main reasons.

NCLA Sugar Fix glitter nail polish (flash shot)

I always looked at nicely manicured girls and thought they had a coquettish air about them (ahem… I wonder if other gals look at me now and think that way HAHA!).. but I digress. Here are some aspects nail wraps trump nail polish:

1) Easier to master
Ever since I jumped on the bandwagon and started collecting nail polish in Sept 2012, I never looked back. It took months of practice, painting once or twice a week, but I eventually got good enough to take decent photos of my polished nails without having to use photo editing software to erase the mess around my nails.

NCLA I’m With the Band shimmer nail polish (non-flash shot)

Nail wraps, on the other hand (pun intended), have a gentler learning curve. I started out experimenting with 2 different Nail Rock nail wraps, and by the time I moved on to NCLA, I had somewhat gotten the knack of applying them nicely on my nails. What’s not to love about that?!

Caveat: This point depends also on the quality of the nail wraps in question. To be honest, from my experience, I have found Nail Rock difficult to get right on the nails without some serious wrinkling and crinkling. I’ve had better luck with NCLA in comparison, but you still have to be careful to size the wrap to your nail correctly, position it carefully, and stretch the wrap slightly and gently over the nail before laying it down completely, to prevent wrinkles and bubbles.

NCLA It Don’t Matter nail wraps

2) Significantly reduced exposure to noxious nail polish fumes
Polish fiends will know what it’s really like to be regularly exposed to the smell of nail polish. Frankly, I don’t know what got me into this whole nail polish craze as well, for I am someone who cannot tolerate smoking or secondhand smoke, and I don’t even use perfume anymore.

I am pretty sure I have avoided painting my nails for the longest time largely due to the fumes, and not believing I should expose myself to the dangers of long-term inhalation of them. Hell, I even turned my back on a career in chemistry because I was so afraid of dying from toxic chemical poisoning!

NCLA It Don’t Matter wraps & NCLA Black Diamond glitter gradient on Essence Movie Star (index fingernail)

To be very honest, there was a period of time I noticed that I was having the urge to relieve my bladder more often than before. Somehow or other, I sensed this had to do with my nail polish habits (I had noticed this about nine months after starting to paint my nails). Then I found this: Symptoms of nail polish poisoning

For the benefit of anyone reading this, my parents began to urge me to get a respiratory mask to protect me from the harmful fumes. After some research and asking some other polish gals in a Facebook group, I decided to place an order with an eBay shop selling a 3M half face piece respirator 7502, together with a cartridge that filtered out organic vapour.

To cut the long story short, after starting to use it from mid-August 2013 onwards, the bladder urges have improved, although I am not sure if the face piece does help significantly. I do feel better on the whole though, than before using it.

NCLA Electric Gradient nail wraps

Nail wraps, however, require only base and top coat, so the entire process of painting 2-3 coats of polish, letting dry in between coats, etc, using acetone to clean up, is done away with. The bulk of the exposure (to the fumes) happens then, and so you are spared if you use nail wraps. What’s more, all you have to do is just peel the wraps off to remove, and perhaps go over lightly with acetone to remove any base coat residue, so exposure to acetone is also greatly reduced.

In fact, nail wraps would be a great alternative for those who are preggers!

3) Application time
Despite having painted my nails for over a year now, the entire process still takes a much longer time compared to applying nail wraps. I started out taking about 2 hours to complete an entire manicure, what with letting coats dry completely in between. And we’re talking plain nail polish, not including any fancy-schmancy nail art!

Nowadays, it takes me anything between an hour and an hour-and-a-half to do a complete manicure with nail polish. Using nail wraps, however, takes about half an hour in total, if you do it right without the need to re-do!

NCLA I Don’t Play Nice nail wraps

One hand takes about 15 minutes in total, not including the time taken to apply the base/top coats. However it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes in total if you use fast-drying base and top coats.

4) Lasting power
This one is a bit of a contentious point, which is why it’s Number 4.

I’m quite rough with my hands, so most times, my painted nails last no longer than 2-3 days before starting to chip. If a polish is particularly hardy, the manicure might last me 4-5 days max. Sometimes it doesn’t even last me 24 hours 🙁

When I first started using NCLA nail wraps, they lasted me for about a week. However, more recently, they start to peel after 1-2 days. I think it’s a combination of factors that determines its lasting power: If you don’t peel off your nail wrap to readjust position or remove air bubbles, it is likely to stay on longer. Also the most-used fingers usually are the first offenders: The index and middle fingernails, as is with nail polish.

NCLA So L.A. nail wraps

The Bad

1) Price point and sizing of wraps
I could be wrong, but I think nail wraps, in general, are more expensive than nail polish. You probably get one, or at most two applications out of a nail wrap packet, and pay as much, if not, more than a regular bottle of nail polish, which probably gives you at least 4 manicures?

I suppose you pay for the work involved in the creating the novel designs, printing them on the wraps, cutting out the various nail sizes, and the adhesive/nail file provided.

NCLA Stephanie’s Galaxy nail wraps (right hand)

Also, as nail wraps have to cater to various nail sizes, you will find that there will be “wasted” nail wraps that do not fit your nails. As a result, you are left with not enough sizes that fit you (especially for people like me where my index and ring fingernails use the same sized wrap), and a surplus of the sizes that don’t, which is money wasted.

If you make mistakes and have to re-apply new wraps for certain nails, then you “waste” even more wraps in the process!

2) The painting ritual
This sounds perverse, but a lot of us polish gals actually relish the entire ritual of sitting down for 1-2 hours, and focusing on nothing but painting your nails, and cleaning up afterwards.

It’s a bit like getting into the zone, where every care of the world seems to fall away beneath you for that length of time… So, yes, despite the learning curve, the noxious fumes, and the time taken to paint our nails, we still love it for this very reason.

Perhaps this is what entails an addiction? 😉

NCLA I’m With the Band shimmer nail polish (flash shot)

The Ugly

Actually, to be fair, this point is relevant for both nail wraps and nail polish. What happens when your manicure starts to disintegrate beyond recognition? How do nail wraps compare with nail polish when this happens?

For starters, I find that nail wraps have a tendency to turn white at the edges if you are not careful when filing the excess off. It helps to fold the excess downwards over the nail tip before filing downwards, but sometimes you still get the tip areas turning white.

Like nail polish, sometimes you get “tip wear”, where the edge of the wrap gets eroded further back than it should. Also, like nail polish, sometimes larger areas of the wrap come off, like a huge ugly nail polish chip.

NCLA Stephanie’s Galaxy nail wraps (left hand)

As for the entire wrap coming off, it’s only happened to me once. Compared to using peel-off glue base for easy removal of glitter polishes, the peel-off glue base performs worse in this respect—the problem I have with wearing glitter polish over peel-off glue base is the entire nail polish piece popping off prematurely, sometimes barely 24 hours into application.

That said, it happens mostly for the index and middle fingernails, so when I want my glitter polish to last longer nowadays, I tend not to use the peel-off glue base for the index and middle fingernails. (And hence have to endure scrubbing off the glitter for 4 fingernails.)

If you’re convinced of the advantages of nail wraps vs nail polish, do explore what ZALORA Singapore has to offer! In fact, whether it’s nail polish or nail wraps, ZALORA Singapore has ’em nailed (pun intended again)!

Don’t forget to check out the upcoming Great Singapore Sale offering at ZALORA Singapore while you’re at it too! 😀

P.S. Some of the nail wraps you see in this post, like the Electric Gradient, are available in variant shades/colours on ZALORA Singapore.

2 comments to Nail Wraps vs Nail Polish

  • Lynette Webster

    Ooh! I love the way you wear the NCLA It Don’t Matter and I Don’t Play – they look gorgeous! If I could wear nail wraps like you I would use them more! x

  • Louisa Koh

    Thank you Lynette for your sweet comments! NCLA wraps are not too difficult to master over some other brands out there, so it’s worth giving them a go! 🙂

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