Remember when press on nails were, well… tacky? Corny? The nails your mom would NEVER let you out of the house with on?
Well, there are now more sophisticated options that resemble a real manicure while still being fun. Many celebrities such as Ariana Grande switched to press-on nails during quarantine and they are slowly gaining popularity again for being a quick and effortless way to replicate salon nail extensions at home.
I’m going to guide you through the world of modern press on nails and why you should keep them in mind the next time you can’t make your salon appointment but you still want glam up your looks.
This article was originally published in November 2020. It has since been revised with more relevant and updated information.
This post contains affiliate links. This means that we’ll make a small commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you.
What Are Press On Nails?
Press on nails are artificial nails made of acrylic resin, gel or ABS plastic and painted with nail polish. If you have ever gotten gel tip extensions at a nail salon, press-on nails are similar to those but they cover the whole nail bed.
The application is a simple process with glue or adhesive tab. They can last for just a weekend or up to two weeks which makes them a great option for special events, or if you need to limit your nail length for your job.
Benefits of Press On Nails
A Great Alternative to Going to the Salon
With everything that has happened this year, press-on nails are a great alternative to gel extensions or acrylic nails when you do not want to leave your home but still want to have a custom, polished manicure look.
Easy Application and Removal for Special Events
They’re great for a last-minute event as their application and removal are so impressively quick. This you can focus on more important things — like what you’re going to wear.
Great for People Who Can't Have Nails for Their Occupation
Since they’re so effortless to apply or remove, they’re a nice style option for people who can only wear glam, fashionable, or long nails during their off-time, like nurses, those who work in conservative offices, etc.
Some press-ons are reusable, so feel free to repeat your manicure set as much as you like, guilt-free.
Has a Variety of Designs to Choose From
Press ons let you have a variety of pattern, art, shape, and colour options, just like acrylic nails. You can mix-and-match sets to change up your looks and suit your style. Classic options like a french manicure or natural pink-beige are also easy to find.
Reusable press ons, like what we have at Sunday Beauty, are a super economical way to appear glam in the long run because you are paying for multiple wears. While they’re priced higher than drugstore single-use products, they still cost less than gel extensions.
How Long Do Press On Nails Last?
Do Press On Nails Damage Your Real Nails?
No, press on nails don’t damage your real nails as long as you follow proper application and removal procedures.
However, improper removal, like leaving your nails in acetone for too long can lead to dryness and brittleness. You can also damage the surface of the nail bed by ripping off your press ons.
You can also use a good quality base-coat before application. This creates a protective layer between your natural nail and the adhesive, which may reduce the chance of damage during removal.
How to Apply Press On Nails
Organize the new nails on the table in front of you, take your time and pick the most natural-looking option for each finger.
Cut and file to your desired length and shape. Cutting them as short as possible and rounding out the corners is best. Make sure to push back and/or trim your cuticles as well.
Use a nail buffer to smooth out the surface and tips of your nails.
Rub down your nail beds with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils or residues that can break down the adhesive. You can add a protective barrier between your nail beds and the adhesive by applying 1-2 thin coats of base coat and allowing that to completely dry first before moving on to the next step. You can also wash your hands with soap and water then pat dry to ensure your nails are not wet when you begin the application.
If you’re using adhesive tabs, select the size that covers your entire nail or trim with scissors for a better fit. If you’re using glue, use a thin to moderate amount to both the press on and the nail bed to create a more secure bond.
Line the fake nail up with your cuticle line and press in a downward motion. Then, press down on the centre of the nail while pinching both sides to secure it to your nail bed. Afterward, wait a minimum of 2 hours before getting your new nails wet.
How Do You Make Press On Nails Last Longer?
Here are some general tips:
- 1Rub down your nail beds with rubbing alcohol before layering the adhesive. This helps remove any oils, products, or residues, which allows for the adhesive to stick better to your nail or base coat.
- 2If using glue, try using thin layers (instead of a single thick layer) to both your natural nail and the press ons. This allows the adhesive to dry evenly, creating a stronger bond.
- 3Avoid getting your hands wet for at least 2 hours afterward. This allows the glue or adhesive to completely dry, which helps them stay on longer.
- 4Avoid using your nails for damaging tasks that involve motions like picking and prying. For example, when opening a pop can use the side of your finger rather than your nails.
How to Remove Press On Nails
If you’ve used adhesive tabs, simply peel off the fake nail and any leftover tape. If you’ve used glue, make sure you follow the instructions below to avoid damaging your nails!
Soak-off Method With Soap & Water
This is Sunday Beauty’s recommended method as it’s gentle on natural nails, easy to do, and will allow you to reuse your press-on after.
To do this, submerge your nails in warm, soapy water for around 10 minutes or until the nails lift off easily.
Alternatively, you can apply a generous amount of cuticle oil to the edges of the press-on or soak a cotton ball in cuticle oil and hold on top of the nails to loosen the adhesive. Ensure all oils are removed if you are going to reuse the press on.
Soak-off With Acetone/Double-boiler Method
I wouldn’t recommend this method since it’s very drying to the skin and the press ons can't be reused afterward.
But if you really want to do it, you can also place a small bowl of acetone in a larger bowl of lukewarm water and dunk your nails in it for 10 mins. Again, be warned that using acetone will ruin the press ons and prevent you from reusing them.
Nail Clips Method
Place a cotton ball soaked in acetone or cuticle oil on the nails, then fasten the nail clips to your fingertips. The clips will distribute pressure evenly while securing the cotton ball. This method is the same as removing gel polish. Check out our How To Remove Gel Polish At Home Easily post for more details!
[The key to nail removal] is to push in the direction that the nail cells grow. Natural nail cells are layered like shingles on the roof. Start at the cuticle and scrape out and off the nail. If you have to scrape hard, put the cotton back on and let the acetone work for a few more minutes.
Tom Bachik, Celebrity Nail Artist for Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Lopez
How Do You Make Press On Nails Look Natural?
Press ons look the most natural when they are sized correctly. The sides should be wide enough to cover the natural nail but not going over the side walls. Combined with pushing back your cuticles, this will lead to a more polished, fashionable, and professional look.
You can also apply a layer of topcoat to the nails to make your manicure look even more new and polished if you are on your second or third wear.
How Do You Reuse Press On Nails?
For our Sunday Beauty press-on nails, I recommend soaking your nails in warm, soapy water (not acetone) for about 10-15 minutes. That should loosen the glue so you can gently lift off the press-on with a wooden nail stick. Soak additionally for 10-15 minutes if the press on did not loosen.
Where Can You Buy Press On Nails?
There are so many different press on nails to choose from. In terms of sizing and design, we absolutely love Glamnetic Press On Nails!
Depend on which set you get, Glamnetic Press Ons come in sets of 24 nails (12 sizes) or 30 nails (15 nails).
Every kit includes an alcohol pad, double-sided nail file, cuticle stick, and nail glue - basically everything you'll need to apply your press ons.
How do I prepare my natural nails for press-on nails?
You can prepare your nails for press-on nails by trimming them, filling the edges to shape, and by buffing them smooth.
Can you shower with press-on nails?
Yes, you can shower with press-on nails. However, you can maximize your wear time by preventing your nails from becoming wet. You can try wearing gloves in the shower to accomplish this.
Are press-on nails hard to remove?
No, press-on nails are not hard to remove. Some removal options can be found in the How To Remove You Press-On Nails section above.
Why do press-on nails hurt?
Press-on nails themselves should not hurt. If you feel pain, it could be that the press ons aren’t the correct size and pushing on your cuticles, or they’re pulling on your nails when they get stuck under an object.
Press-on nails are a convenient alternative at home when you do not want to get your nails done at a salon. They are fully customizable to your taste in design, wear-time restrictions, and length preferences.
The quick application and removal process, when done right, will let you have fun with your looks without causing damage!