How to Apply Press-On Nails So They Look Natural
Press-on nails have a bad rap for looking, well, fake — but believe us, there are more pros than cons.
While you might have these nails reserved for the times when you can't make it to the nail salon, the truth is fake nails are the easiest way to instantly get longer nails or embrace the latest nail art trend without doing any damage to your natural nails.
But don't just take our word for it — ask Jennifer Lopez. The star's go-to manicurist Tom Bachik regularly uses fake nails when creating her most extravagant manicures. Take Lopez's Superbowl Halftime Show crystal glass nails or her New Years 2020 Versace logo manicure as a few examples. And hey, if press-on nails are good enough for J.Lo, that should be enough to convert you, too.
However, the one caveat that comes with press-on nails is that there's a bit of a learning curve when it comes to applying them. In order for fake nails to look chic instead of corny, you need to spend a few minutes making sure you line them up with your natural nail shape, file them down, and solidly adhere them so they don't pop off.
All that said, with the right application, press-on nails can appear seamless and stay on for up to two weeks — and we've got some tips to help you achieve the best look.
Ahead, Gina Ewards, celebrity nail artist and KISS brand ambassador, shares her expert tips on the best way to apply press-on nails, how to make them last longer, and more.
Pick the Right Press-On Nail Size
Picking the right press-on nail sizes can make you feel like Goldilocks. Some will be too big, others will be too small, and then there are those that are just right. To help, Edwards says that many brands emboss numbers on the back of each nail according to size. "The smallest number 0 is the largest nails, which are thumbs," she explains. "The highest numbers, 11 and 12 are pinky fingers."
Edwards says sizing the nail from the left nail groove to the right is the easiest way to get the right fit.
Properly Prepping Your Nails Before Applying Press-Ons
You've probably heard that dehydrated nails lead to damaged nails, but too much moisture are fake nails' worst enemy. After pushing your cuticles back, the next step is removing any excess moisture from your nail beds. Edwards says taking off any oil on your natural nails will make press-ons adhere better. While some fake nail kits like KISS' Impress Manicure come with an alcohol prep pad, if you don't have any handy, a cotton round soaked in alcohol also does the trick.
VIDEO: How Much Do I Need to Tip at a Nail Salon?
Don't Forget the Glue
Most press-on nail packs will come with double-sided tape. But if you want your press-on nails to last longer, use glue. "If you are worried about any nails coming off, be sure to apply the glue at the tip of your own nail and near the base of the artificial press on," Edwards suggests.
According to the pro nail artist, glued-on nails can stay on for up to 10 days. But to ensure your fake nails hold up, she recommends to avoid soaking your hands in warm water for 24 hours immediately following the application. "Let the glue and nail settle and mold to your nails," says Edwards.
Filing Press-On Nails Will Give Them a Natural Finish
Yes, getting your press-on nails to stick is important, but don't forget to shape the tips of your fake nails for a natural finish. And Edwards actually prefers shaping press-on nails before putting them. "This lets you see the even continuity of each nail before application," she says.
How You Remove Press-On Nails Is Just as Important as How You Apply Them
While press-on nails are less likely to leave your nails damaged, when compared to gels or acrylics, it's still important that you're gentle when you take them off.
What not to do? If a fake nail has one side coming loose, don't tear it off. "Never ever pull of a nail tip," says Edwards. "This will surely damage the nails."
Instead, soak your nails in an acetone-based nail solution with baby oil. Edwards swears by a mess-free kit like KISS Quick Soak Off Removal System. It includes soak-off caps and nail-shaped pads. "Just add baby oil, which helps lift product off the nail and prevents dry skin, she says"
Now that you know what to do and what not to do when applying fake nails, keep scrolling for the best press-on nail kits to buy.
Dashing Diva Magic Press Sunset Breeze Press On Gel Nails
No glue required, these stick-on nails are a short square shape and come with two different designs. The peach ombré is ideal for anyone who loves the gradient nail trend, while the sparkly nail art is great if you love glitter, but hate how hard it is to take it off.
To buy: $8; Ulta.com.
Static Nails French 75 Pop-On Reusable Manicure Set
In case you haven't heard, the French manicure is back. And this press-on nail set makes it effortless to get even white tips. The kit comes with 24 reusable nails in 12 sizes per hand. Even better: They can be reshaped and painted if you want to customize your French further. Rainbow tips anyone?
To buy: $16; Nordstrom.com.
Bella Nails Holographic Longwear Mani Press On Nails
Long stiletto nails and a holographic finish? Yeah, seems like a manicure pipe dream. But thanks to this kit, you can make your dream nails a reality without getting expensive gel extensions or acrylics. Bella Nails' set includes 24 nails and one tube of glue.
To buy: $13; Amazon.com.
KISS Full of Roses imPRESS Press-On Manicure
With three complimentary colors, the manicure possibilities are endless. Use a single color on all 10 nails, mix and match them by adding an accent nail, or do an on-trend rainbow manicure. The kit includes a file, wooden stick, prep pads, and nails with pre-applied sticky tape.
To buy: $8; Ulta.com.
KISS Gold Finger Gel Glam 24 Nails
For anyone who manages to smudge their nails during every single DIY manicure, press-on nails are your solution. These matte red nails are an easy way to try the trendy coffin shape without fully committing to it — and waiting for your nails to dry.
To buy: $6; Amazon.com.