I Tried a Self-Adhesive Gel Mani, and All I Have to Say Is WOW

Getting our nails done is the utmost form of pampering. Much like a spray tan, no one looks bad after even the simplest mani.

And when it comes to this form of self-care, gels really up the ante. The only thing is, they can be time and money-consuming, and depending on where you live, you may not have access to the best nail technicians or products.

As someone who has gotten many a gel set (and is guilty of peeling oh-so-many off prematurely as well), I can tell you just how costly they can get. Plus, I'm never patient enough to wait for an intricate design, so I end up with solid colors while envying other people's glam looks from afar.

All of that said, you can imagine my excitement when a rep for nail brand Mani Me reached out about meeting with its founders Jooyeon Song and David Miro Llopis, and testing their innovative new gel product.

The Product

According to the brand's website, Mani Me products are "the first-ever custom-fit stick on gels developed with proprietary 3D technology."

The process all begins on your phone, where you take five straightforward photos of your hand on top of a standard-sized card. Next, you shop an array of styles, ranging from solid hues to vibrant two-tones, to glitter, shimmer and all that jazz. Next, the magic happens! Once the website collects your information, peel-offs will be cut with the design of your choice to fit your nail beds, based on the photos you took. In three to four business days, your product, complete with nail wipes, a nail file and an extra set of gels (in case of a mishap) will be at your fingertips (pun intended!). From there, you can easily peel off the adhesive and apply to your nails, using the nail file to shave off any excess. The total cost ranges from $15 to $25 (yep, that's it!).


The Experience

I got to see the magic happen fresh from the Mani Me HQ in Venice, California, and it was mesmerizing to observe how quickly these gels come to life.

As evidenced in the video and snapshots below, there's a machine that cuts the stick-ons exactly to fit the size of your nail beds. I took my photos and selected my style on the spot (NYE-themed, obviously, because I've got to look appropriately bedazzled when the ball drops)—and just like that, within five minutes, they were hot off the press (literally).

At the time of my attendance, I had a dip manicure, so I didn't necessarily need a fresh set of color. I also wanted to save those bejeweled bad boys for closer to New Year's Eve. So, instead, as seen below, I had a professional from the Mani Me team provide a demonstration on just how these work. To note, when I arrived, she had two-week-old Mani Me gels on her fingers.

View this post on Instagram

Applying self-adhesive @manime.co gels is easy as 1-2-3! See what I mean by scrolling. They're real gels (without the fuss!)

A post shared by DS (@dahvi_doing_stuff) on

Even though my nails didn't personally get the full experience, I tried one for good measure since the set comes with a handful of extras. I placed it on my pinky and it applied effortlessly. In the case of that one finger, the very tip lifted after a day, and I could easily pull it off, but I left it on until I couldn't take it any longer—a total of about four days. But I plan to give it another go with the full set tonight, in fact, given that NYE is next week!

Based on my experience and observations, I actually think getting dip nails as a foundation before application is a novel idea. The dips are super strong, and not only make the Mani Me gels easier to stick and stay, but dips are long—and I've gotta say, I don't really think there's a lasting way to apply the Mani Me gels to short nails.


Bottom Line

First and foremost, Mani Me has an incredibly innovative product. Their products save you from the drills at a nail salon, the toxins in products and the harmful rays of an actual gel machine. They're super easy to apply, remove, mix and match. While I wouldn't say they could take the place of dips, they're a perfect replacement for traditional salon gels. If the concern is that they're easy to peel off, I can peel my salon gels off in a day, so truthfully there's no difference. If you take care of your nails like with any general manicure or polish, these should last at least a week.

I think the innovative technology the company uses to design the nails is years ahead of its competitors. There's nothing I've seen like it on the market, and it's truly remarkable. Also, the designs are top-notch. They're not cheesy or cheap-looking. If applied correctly (you can't really mess them up), you should have gel-level nails.

And let's not forget the price point. At $25 max, you avoid paying a tip, and save $10 to $20 on a salon gel service.

My only issue is that they're going to be more difficult to apply to short nails. But that said, even if professionally applied, gels are still tough with especially small nail beds or short nails.

All in all, these are so much fun and definitely worth trying. Worst case, you take them off hassle-free and make a run for the salon.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ManiMe (@manime.co) on


Need tips on how to up your at-home nail game? Look no further than THESE hacks to improve your at-home manicure.