Another winning site suggested by my friend Tiffany was Espionage Girl Cosmetics. Specifically, their Nail'd It nail wraps. Tiff got me a few packs for Christmas a while back and I dawdled on using them because I'm more of a Japanese gel nail art kinda' gal (and, for my other J-art nail folks that live in LA, let me HIGHLY recommend Marie Nails in Koreatown/LA. They have other shops throughout Los Angeles, but I find the Ktown location to be the best).
Anywhoo....the issue with depending upon a very specific type of gel nail that can only be done once in a blue moon when I actually land an appointment, not to mention the 30-40 min drive to even get there, is the fact that I have about 1 week of an immaculate manicure before it all starts to go south. After that, my fill line has expanded to the size of a small crevasse, they won't be able to see me for another month and my gel is so old it starts to curl away and chip off.
I found myself in such dire straights one day. Remembering Tiffany's gift of the Baker Street set of Espionage nail wraps. I figured, "what the heck? At least this will look nicer than these peel-y nails until I can get them properly done."
I took my gels off (that's a story for another time) and started working n getting my sad little stubs wrapped up.
Now, I've use nail wraps before. When Sally Hansen first came out with their line, I thought it was a genius idea and tried working with them for a few month. I ended up ditching them after coming across a few issue: They wouldn't always "take" to my nail, often curling along the edge or not actually laying flat against the tips. I'd put a clear coat of polish over the top to help "lock" them in place in an effort to make them last longer and the chemicals within the top coat actually caused the wrap to turn sticky and either smear off or gum up. Lastly, they just didn't come out with enough new looks.
I gave it one more shot with a few brands I found at Sephora but again, the same issues. While Sephora did have a better selection, their wraps were usually so thick and layer so terribly that the Sally Hansen's looked infinitely superior. Either way, both options sucked.
That's why I wasn't holding out much hope for the Espionage brand. But, I was proved wrong! The Nail'd It wraps worked wonderfully! I LOVE that they have a wide range of comic book, TV, movies and video game options to choose from and aren't just stereotypical flowers or glitter.
So far, I've tried Baker Street, Borderlands 2 (which Natalie Dormer admired and praised while I was interviewing her), Geek Icons and Nebulae. Each wrap took well (with the unfortunate exception of Nebulae. I assume that they had somehow dried out within their packaging. I've had this same issue a few times with the Sally Hansen brands, so I suppose it is just the risk you have to take with this type of product). They managed to survive a dousing of top coat and, after having done that, lasted a solid two weeks before needing a replacement.
My assessment? While I still go with gel nails as a default, if I'm having a hard time trying to schedule time for a fill or mani, the Espionage Cosmetics nail wraps are a quick, easy, and affordable (about $10-$12 a pop, $15-$20 if you buy a bundle) solution. The one issue I have with these are: they're online order only (with the exception of any Cons you might find their booth/store at). Meaning if you know you're going to want to wear a special set for something like E3 or SDCC, or you know you won't have time to schedule a manicure or fill - then plan accordingly. Order ahead of time or pick up a bunch at once so you have a supply ready to go when you need them.
Quick mention: Espionage Cosmetics also have a variety of other cosmetics they offer (along with other "merch"). I have not tried any of their cosmetics as of this moment, so don't have any opinion to share. however, if you have used their cosmetics before, please post in the comments below what you thought of them and why (good or bad). Thanks!