Saturday Showdown: Jamberry VS Discount

I don't know if I've mentioned it here before or not, but I'm pretty much in love with the Dollar Tree. We happen to live just inside a circle of about ten different Dollar Trees, and I love going into each of them to see what I can find. There's always something cute, always something useful, always something new to try. Always a pleasant little surprise thing I wasn't expecting them to have.

Plus, when you're a broke single mom, there's something really liberating about knowing that you can walk into that store and buy ANYTHING. YOU. WANT. JUST. BECAUSE.

Sometimes it works out well for me, like when I go there hunting stocking stuffers or little surprises for the girls. The Dollar Tree's collection of LA Colors, Colormates, and Wet-N-Wild makeup is how my oldest daughter became a pro at eyeshadow. It works out well with Eden's love of word searches, too - there are always little booklets there that I can pick up to surprise her with. And I also shop for greeting cards there - I send cards and little things out to some of my Patrons every month, and the Dollar Tree always has great cards to pick and choose from.

But other times it doesn't work out so well - like the time I bought a keratin conditioner for my hair that was unbelievably watery and completely ineffective.

So when I found Sassy+Chic nail stickers there, I was pretty excited, but also pretty nervous. They were totally affordable, and picking up a few packs of the same kind would mean I could do matchy nails for the girls and I. But would they work? Were they easy? Would I be able to get them on right - and if I could, would they wreck our nails? Would they fit our fingers? Could they be cut down to fit Eden's little-girl hands? Would it matter that she doesn't grow long nails?

Want to try some - or already love these? You can pick them up in bulk here.
They became a strange addiction for me - every time I found myself in the Dollar Tree, I'd walk through and find the beauty aisle. And I'd browse through the selection of nail stickers. Sometimes I couldn't find any, and sometimes even if they had some in stock I wouldn't be able to find some that would fit my style. But when there were cute ones there, I would buy them.

And never put them on.

I'm not sure why. Like I was a little scared of them, even though I wanted so much to wear them, and over the course of a few months I built up quite a collection of them. But I never tried them, and now I'm not even sure why.

Maybe it was some weird quirk of the anxiety I live with. Maybe it was fate.

A few weeks ago I was doing my usual browsing, and ended up striking up a conversation about those nail stickers with a woman who happened to be standing in the aisle with me. I asked her if she knew anything about those stickers and if they worked, if they were easy to apply and remove, etc. She didn't really know, she said, because she hadn't had a lot of experience with them ... but ...

She was a Jamberry consultant, and she offered me a business card, which I took with reluctant politeness. I'd seen those things around, and they were fancy. I was sure they'd be expensive - especially for the likes of a mom who spends by the dollar and still manages to feel guilty even then. I tried to talk her out of wanting to meet with me.

"I don't know ... aren't they expensive/difficult to apply/ easy to ruin/etc.?"

"No," she said. "See, look at mine - I don't even always put them on all my nails. Sometimes I just accent with them and then use polish. And they're super easy to put on, I promise. I could show you how to do them, easy."

"I don't know. They're still pretty costly, aren't they?"

"Not really. They break down to being just barely more expensive than these," she told me, gesturing to my selection of discount nail stickers. "I promise, I can totally show you how to do them, and I'll even give you a couple to practice with."

And that's where she got me. The idea of a couple of free Jamberry nail wraps swam together in my mind with the thought of finally mustering up the gumption to try the Dollar Tree wraps, and then it all swirled together into the idea for this blog post. I was in.

Her name is Elizabeth Legere, and she runs her own business as an independent consultant for Jamberry - EBeth's Jamberries. It took us a while to be able to meet up, because I had a sick munchkin, and we had challenges fitting our meeting around our separate schedules ... but the meeting was well worth it, and she was so much fun to talk to. I was almost immediately at ease (which is unusual for me), and we ended up chatting for almost four hours, just sipping coffee in a local Starbucks, talking our way through kids and pets and hair and boys and yes, nails.

I picked out a sample to start with (she also gave me several others to take home and play with later on), and Elizabeth walked me through the process for proper Jamberry application. It sounded complicated, but it just boils down to three major concepts:
  • De-oil and prep your nails: Elizabeth had me wash my hands with dish detergent, then follow that up with alcohol. My nails were already naked so we didn't need to bother with nail polish remover. It was cool that she came so totally prepared with a little ziploc of cotton and a couple of little travel bottles of polish remover, alcohol, and other supplies we might need.
  • Choose and heat the vinyl you're going to use: The wraps are stored on a clear plastic sheet, which is handy because you can hold it over your actual nails to help gauge the best fit. Then you cut the sticker in half (each single sticker does at least two nails), lift the sticker with help from an orange stick (or other non-finger-oily tool), and gently heat the vinyl to activate the adhesive and make the wrap itself easier to work with. Jamberry has a fancy little heater for this, but I really liked that Elizabeth wasn't trying to badger me into buying a bunch of stuff I didn't want and couldn't afford, especially on a new product I wasn't sure I would love. She told me a little secret - even though the official Jamberry heater is safer and obviously better, you could totally cheat with a hair dryer! (She did have the heater though, of course, and it was so cute!)
  • Apply and enjoy: Lining these up using the orange stick (to keep from touching the adhesive side and ruining the stickiness) was a little challenging for me, but I suspect it would get much easier with just a little practice. Still, the wraps fit my nails well, stuck perfectly, and clung for almost a full ten days. No lifting, no chipping, no tearing - even when I accidentally smashed my finger trying to hang up the showerhead in the bathroom. I could have even worn them longer, but my nail growth was getting to obvious for my liking by then.
The whole week of wearing my Jamberries, I was super excited about how pretty they were and how easy they were to apply. I loved that they didn't chip like my nail polish always does (typing most of the day + mom life = chipped ugly nail polish), and I loved that since they come in designs I could do lots of different artsy manicures for myself.

And at $15 a sheet, with enough stickers for two full manicures, two full pedicures, and then several extra accent nails ... well, it's not so unaffordable then. Even I could justify the expense, especially when I found out that they actually have Mommy&Me sets of wraps - with child-sized wraps that would perfectly fit Eden's little hands! And if I got one sheet and got creative with cutting the wraps, I'd be able to do my nails AND both of my girls' nails for just $15!

But ... well, I'm a frugal mom. I have to be, otherwise I can't make ends meet for my family, and right now every dollar counts. So if I'm thinking I'm falling in love with the ease of $15 Jamberry wraps, then I owe it to myself and my sense of responsibility to give the Sassy+Chic ones a try. Because $15 for Jamberry manicures for me and the girls is nice, but in the end it's still more expensive than the $1-$3 I would spend at the Dollar Tree.

I wish I had decent pictures of my first Jamberry nails to share with you, but I've just got these:

Most of my nails in these photos are just polish - the Jamberry wraps I applied during my tutorial with Elizabeth are on my middle fingers. But I was hooked on nail stickers from the first moment. No smudging. No drying. So easy. And all I needed to do was add a shiny topcoat - which wasn't even actually necessary.

So I wore my Jams until my nails had grown too much for me to be able to stand the growth anymore, and then came the test of taking them off. Which wasn't a test at all - I literally just worked my left thumbnail under the edge of the wrap on my right middle finger and spent about a minute slowly working back and forth to peel up the sticker. Totally simple, totally painless, and the whole thing came off in just one easy-to-throw-away, didn't-stink-like-acetone piece. Not that it wanted to come off, mind you - the adhesive was definitely still doing it's job, despite showers, dishwashing, driving, typing, and all the rigors of #momlife.

But then it was time to test the discount brand and see how they would work for me. Long story short (yeah right, you guys know I can't make any story short!), they didn't work at all. The adhesive wasn't very sticky, and once I set the Sassy+Chic sticker on my nail, I was actually able to slide it around a bit on my nail. It felt thin and fragile and papery - nothing at all like the strong, sturdy feel of the Jamberry vinyl. I was afraid to press on the Sassy+Chic ones, not only because they were sliding around on my nails, but also because I was afraid of tearing them. I did like that since the Sassy+Chic wraps were so much thinner than the Jamberry ones, filing the excess off the ends of my nails was so easy. Still, that seems like a lousy tradeoff when I look at the rest of the experience.

After sliding the stickers around on my nails trying to get them to adhere, I drove a friend to work about thirty minutes away, and by then time I was on the way home, I was already noticing places where the Sassy+Chic stickers were lifting from my nails. Barely forty minutes after application, including a quick drying top coat I had hoped would help solidify things ... this was a fail. I literally sat at a red light and peeled them right off in the car.

So just in case I haven't been clear about which nails win this showdown ...

Images for this graphic borrowed from Jamberry's website.

The photo above shows some of the nails on my current Jamberry wishlist. I love that the Garden ones are Mommy&Me sets that match, and I LOVE the Royal Bliss set! The colors are so pretty, the patterns remind me of how much I always loved kaleidoscopes as a kid, and the mismatched patterns all in one set look like they would be so much fun to play with, both separately and together. But Waikiki looks so playful and girly too! Jamberry also has sets that are just one color too, and they even have ones that are see-through so that you can layer them on top of regular polish or even other Jams. I love that this allows you to be creative and end up with a totally custom look of your own, and I also like that there's so much encouragement to mix and match colors and styles.

Want to try some for yourself? I'd encourage you to check them out - if not for yourself then as a perfect gift for a daughter, wife, sister, mother, or friend. These are so easy to do, and it also hasn't slipped my notice that if I were to be able to get some for Joey, I'd never have to worry about nail polish stains again.

These are also a great self-care tactic - When I first met with Elizabeth, I was struggling through a bout with depression, and while I'm usually able to pull myself through with the promise that it's always only temporary and that if I can just make it "a few more days" it would pass, this time it just wasn't working. I was under a ton of stress and I was really really struggling ... but my fingernails were pink and pretty and cheerful, and every time I saw them they made me smile a little. Eventually I found other things to smile about too, and then smiling got a little easier to manage, and by the time the next major challenge hit me, I felt a lot more ready for it than I would have otherwise.

Oh, and there's one other factor ... the holidays are coming. Christmas gifting season is coming, and they even have holiday and winter prints! Seriously, snowflakes and flannel and Christmas lights and ... ohmygosh I love them!

Thanks for hanging out with me today; I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Have you ever tried Jamberry wraps, or anything like them? If you have, what did you think, and which wraps have been your favorites? Have you seen any of the Disney or Marvel themed ones? Or the Peanuts collection? I am in love with the yellow Charlie Brown's shirt ones! They even have Star Wars and Wonder Woman!

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