Your Number One Guide to Applying Press-on Nails




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Press-on nails can be a life-saver when you need to have ultra-shiny neon nails for a weekend special occasion, but during the week at work, you need to keep it simple and humble with the nail design.

Press-on nails are easily applied with the help of nail glue or adhesive tabs. Place the glue or adhesive tab onto the natural nail, peel off the protective layer and then stick the fake nail on the top and hold it for around 20 seconds. And that’s it, your manicure is done!

Because it is very simple to apply and remove them, the press-on nails became a trend that will never become too old. Stick with me while I explain in more detail how to apply the nails and remove them, and also reveal a few tips to prolong their duration.

What Exactly Are Press-on Nails?

Press-on nails are very convenient if you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing a nice design on your nails, or you are not very skilled in doing the nails. However, one question arises, what are the press-on nails exactly?

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They have to be made of something, and no, they are not plastic as many women tend to believe. When you look at the formulation, the press-on nails are different from brand to brand, but all of them are mostly made of acrylic resin.

This is because the main goal with false press-on nails is to resemble the acrylic manicure you would usually get in a salon. Because of this, with many high-quality brand press-on nails, you cannot actually spot the difference. 

You can find many different brands on the market, with the prices ranging from a few dollars up to $25 or more. Also, you can choose between different prints, styles, shapes, and lengths. 

The choice is enormous, so for sure, you will be able to find something that works for you. But, the truth is that the more you pay, the more you get in terms of quality and duration. Finding a golden balance will do the work for most women.

Choose the brand depending on what you want to achieve with the press-on nails. If quality and duration are your top priority, then go for more expensive brands. If you would just like to have fun and try out new things, or you would like to change the look of your nails more often, then opt-out for more affordable brands.

What Is Included in the Press-on Kit?

The press-on nails are typically bought in a kit, meaning that besides the false nails you would also get a cuticle pusher, a file, and a nail glue. This is a standard kit that comes with all types of press-on nails.

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Some brands want to differentiate from the others, so they might include some extra stuff, but these aforementioned pieces are the basics every kit needs to have. If something is missing, you wouldn’t be able to finish your manicure. 

The nails themselves are usually divided into five compartments – each compartment matches one of the fingers. In each of those compartments, you would usually find multiple pieces of fake nails. 

This is because not everyone’s nails are the same, so, naturally, one size and shape of the fake nail is not going to fit everyone perfectly. To solve this, companies include different sizes, so there is a higher chance you will find something that will match your nails perfectly.

However, if the nails seem not to be a perfect fit, don’t worry, that is where the nail file comes into place, to help you shape the nails and make them sit perfectly on the nails. I will explain this in more detail later. 

The last part of a standard kit is, of course, glue. You need something that will hold the fake nails onto the natural nails and what better product than glue. Glue also makes the application and removal process very easy.

How to Apply Press-on Nails?

Every manicure technique requires you to start with a nice preparation and cleaning. To properly clean the nails, use soap and water and wash your hands thoroughly. Before you proceed, use an alcohol-dipped cotton pad to ensure extra cleanliness of the nails. 

The next step would be to dry the hands well because the water is known to be the enemy of the fake nails, just like the natural oils or dirt on the hand may be. This is because the nails would not stick properly if the surface of the nails is wet. 

Another important thing to do is to trim your nails short before you apply the fake nails. Although it may seem like a good idea to keep long nails to ensure better adherence, the press-on nails actually work better when applied on short nails.

Also, a good idea is to push down the cuticles, so you can maximize the working space. This will also make it easier to choose the right size of nails for your hands.

After all, this is because the press-on nails were designed to provide a nice looking manicure for those ladies who are not able to grow their nails naturally to the desired length, and would like to avoid the hustle of doing the nails at the nail salon.

If you already didn’t, now is the time to choose the fake nail that fits your natural nails perfectly. If you are torn in between two sizes, my advice is to always go for the bigger one, because later you will trim it down and shape it to match your nails.

If you choose a size that is smaller than your natural nails, the manicure would not look good, because your natural nails would still be visible on the sides, and the fake nails would really come to express.

Use a nail file to trim down the side edges of the fake nail, so it fits better on your natural nails. To apply the fake nail, place a few drops of glue on your natural nails and press the fake nail on top of it firmly.

Before the glue hardens, you have some time to maneuver with the fake nail and make it sit on your nail bed perfectly. Hold down the nails for at least 20 seconds before you let go. If the nails still feel unstable, hold them for another 10 seconds to allow the glue to have some time to work.

Once you finish the nails, you can eventually trim them down or give them additional shape if you feel like you need it. And that’s it – your manicure is done and you are good to go for about two weeks!

Paint the Fake Nails

One variation of the press-on nails allows you to express yourself as an artist and have the sole purpose of providing you desired length of nails. Of course, I am talking about clear, see-through fake nails. 

99% of press-on nails on the market are pre-painted because this is very convenient for women who don’t have time or the nerve for doing their nails at the salon or home by themselves. 

Clear press-on nails are applied in the same manner as the pre-painted one, only one extra step is required – to actually paint the nails. Once you finish with the application, you can proceed with using nail polish to give your nails the look you would like.

It is recommended that you use a regular nail polish only and a top coat eventually to seal the shine. There is no point in painting the base coat because a base coat acts as a glue between the natural nails and the nail polish, and here you have a fake nail that interferes and acts as a barrier. 

If you feel like the acrylics or gel would look better, there is no point in applying them on top of a fake nail. If you want those techniques, then just simply go for the standard one. Acrylics or gel would not look good on fake nails and they would not be as durable as they would when there is no fake nail.

How Long Do They Last?

If the nails are properly applied and taken care of, they could last for around two weeks. Of course, this is very individual and depends on how careful you are with them.

The duration of the press-on nails also depends on the brand you are using. As already said, more expensive brands are most likely to last longer than the cheaper ones.

It is simple – high-end brands invest a lot in the quality of the product, so the chances are they will last longer and be more durable to damage or breakage. Another advantage of paying more for the brand is the possibility of reuse.

When you remove the nails, if you clean them properly and store them, you will probably be able to reuse them. This also depends on the level of damage the nails have suffered while they were stuck to your natural nails.

Always check their condition when you remove them, and if you cannot find any visible damage, they are more likely to be able to be reused in the future.

Tips for Long-lasting Press-on Nails

There are a few tips that can help you prolong the duration of your press-on nails, and the first and the basic one is to prepare the nails nicely before the application. If the hands are dirty, the nails won’t stick properly as already explained, so naturally, they would not last long.

Another tip is regarding the amount of glue you are applying. If you apply just a few drops of glue, it will wear out quickly and the fake nails would start to detach from the natural nails. 

If you would like the nails to last longer, apply the glue more generously. This is because a thicker layer of glue will create stronger bonds between the natural and fake nails thus prolonging their duration.

Also, the type of glue you are using plays a great role. If you are using the glue from the kit, it will do the work, but there will be higher chances the glue is not having the right quality for the job.

Try buying a separate bottle of glue made especially for press-on nails. Investing a few bucks in this product can have a great effect on the duration of your press-on nails.

The length of the nails is also a contributing factor to the duration of the nails. Longer nails have a higher chance to stick into something and pop off than shorter nails have. This is why it is recommended to go for shorter nails. 

Avoid the water as much as you can. If your hands are submerged underwater for a prolonged time, it will significantly decrease the duration of your nails. Water is a natural enemy to all nail techniques, but especially to the very sensitive ones like the press-on nails is.

How to Remove Them?

Press on-nails are easily removed with just water and soap. This is why if you want to prolong the duration of your press-on nails, you should avoid water as much as you can.

To remove the nails, take a bowl and put warm water and a little bit of liquid soap in it. Soak your hands for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the nails would come out with ease. 

If the nails are not detaching from the natural nails, soak the hands in for a little longer. Never try to rip off the fake nails from the natural nails since you are risking damage like this.

Sometimes when the water is not working well enough, you would need to use the help of acetone, to speed up the process of removal and to make it easier. 

To remove the nails, you can also use a help of a nail buffer. Gently buffing the nails will help with the removal process. Once the nails come off, it is time for the aftercare of the nails.

The winning combination is to use nail oil and good hand cream that will moisturize and feed your nails and hands after the soaking bath. The water itself will not do damage, but the type of soap you are using can sometimes be too harsh for your hands. 

Does Nail Glue or Adhesive Tabs Work Better?

Adhesive tabs are the alternative to nail glue. Instead of applying the glue, you would normally apply the adhesive tab to the nails, peel off the protective layer and then stick the fake nail on top of it.

In general, both nail glue and adhesive tabs will do the work in the same manner. The only difference is in how long the fake nails last afterward. 

The nail glue is stronger and will hold the nails in place for a longer time than the adhesive tabs. Adhesive tabs are made from a material that is 100% degradable in water, which means that there are high chances the nails will peel off after a long bath.

On the other hand, the nail glue is stronger and yes, it is affected by the water as well, but in most cases, you would also need the help of acetone to remove the fake nails. 

You should choose between these two products based on whether you want long-lasting press-on nails, or you are looking for a frequent change of manicure. Nail glue should be used when you want to ensure duration, but you should go for adhesive tabs if you are looking for a more frequent change of look.

Are Press-on Nails Healthier than Other Techniques?

When you compare it to other types of manicure, the press-on nails are much safer. This is due to the fact that the press-on nails are connected to the natural nails with the help of glue. 

Other nail techniques like gel or acrylics require the natural nail to be buffed and exposed to chemicals and UV light for a long time. Because with the press-on nails the natural nails don’t come in contact with harsh chemicals, they are considered to be healthier.

Also, other manicure techniques require your hands and nails to be soaked in an acetone bath when it’s time for removal. This can be highly damaging to your nails and skin if you don’t take proper before and aftercare. 

With the press-on nails, the risk for damage is minimized, because there is little or no contact with chemicals like acetone, which are necessary to dissolve and remove nail polish, gel, or acrylics. 

Of course, gel and acrylics have benefits of their own, so it is really up to you to choose which technique fits your nails the best. 


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