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      /  Simply Crystal Nails   /  What’s the difference between nail stickers and nail decals?

    What’s the difference between nail stickers and nail decals?

    What's the difference between nail stickers and nail decals? Simply Crystal Nails

    What’s the difference between nail stickers and nail decals?

    We’re so happy you asked because we get this question a lot!

    Today we’ll be breaking down each of these popular items and telling you the exact difference. We’ll throw in the pros and cons and tell you why you should choose one over the other!

    What are nail stickers?

    Nail stickers are decals with built-in self-adhesion. They are the standard peel & sticks but for nails! They come in matte paper, glossy paper, vinyl, or other any other material with a pressure-sensitive adhesive (on one side). Nail stickers can come completely cut (die-cut) or on a sheet and cut enough to peel from its backing (kiss-cut).

    What are waterslide nail decals?

    Nail decals are ultra-thin clear or white plastic-like films that can be adhered to the nail once water-activated and combined with an added adhesive. Waterslide decals rely on dextrose residue from the decal paper to bond the decal to its surface. The dextrose residue helps bond waterslides to their surface (similar to a magnetic pull) but does not permanently adhere to them. In order to provide a lasting/permanent hold, waterslides need to be adhered/encapsulated with UV/Led gel polish or acrylic. Waterslides images are not pre-cut and must be cut by the end user.

    Nail Stickers Pros & Cons


    • Pre-cut.
    • Can get any decoration or illustration added to a sticker.
    • Easy to use. (User-friendly)
    • Contains own adhesive.
    • Can be used temporarily.
    • Offers a printed vinyl option and a cut-only option.


    • Not great for intricate designs/fonts
    • Requires an outline of many of the images.
    • More costly than decals.
    • Thicker than decals.
    • Separated Images/fonts require a background.
    • Separated images must be placed on the nail individually or with transfer paper.
    • Can not be cut smaller than the small size.
    • Larger images do not fit the shape of the nail.

    Nail Decals Pros & Cons


    • Works well with intricate and separated designs
    • Can print extra small images.
    • Easily molds to the shape of the nail.
    • Cost-effective.
    • Thinner than stickers.
    • Has ultra-clear backing for ultra-clear decals, and non-detectable backing.
    • Offers a cleaner finish.
    • Can have any image or design added to the decal.
    • Does not require a border around images.


    • Not user-friendly. Requires instructions and practice.
    • Requires an added adhesive to make products hold.
    • Requires a topcoat or two.
    • Is not temporary.
    • Time-restricted. (Once the decal is dry it can not be repositioned.)
    • Needs water to activate.
    • Longer preparation time.
    • Must be cut by the user.

    Nail decals and nail stickers both offer amazing outcomes for nail designs! While both have their pros and cons, it’s best to choose what works for you! Whether you have it figured out or require an additional nudge we will be here to assist in the process. For more information about nail decals and nail, stickers check out our youtube channel. Simply Crystal Nails

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