How to Get Nail Glue Off Nails

Nail glue is just one of those necessary evils that everyone in the press-on nail universe has to deal with. 

It’s sticky, it’s messy and it’s not the most pleasant, but we need it to wear all of our favorite acrylic styles and stay on top of the latest trends.

Even as you become a seasoned press-on pro, you never really become comfortable using glue, since it still occasionally gets stuck in places you don’t want.

That’s why you need a game plan for whenever you do happen to get in a sticky situation! 

Today we’re talking about how to best remove nail glue in a safe, effective, and headache-free way. With these tips, you won’t have to worry about tugging, scraping, or any other amateur techniques you’ve tried in the past.


What is Unique About Nail Glue?

We’ve messed around with different types of glues for art projects and to fix a broken mug or two, but what makes nail glue distinct from the other stuff?

According to Healthline, nail glue is closer in chemical structure to superglue than it is to the glues we used back in arts & crafts class.

Although they can vary slightly in viscosity and intensity, both nail glue and super glue contain a compound called cyanoacrylate, which helps the quick-dry effect of these products and allows them to be totally clear in color.

Why not just use good old fashioned craft glue or epoxy-like substances for our nails? They are simply not engineered to stick to the cells of human nails and will quickly fall off.

While some inventive nail artists may find a way to use two-sided tape or adhesive strips to achieve the same effect as nail glue, there is ultimately not that much of a difference in the active chemicals that are working behind the scenes.

That being said, not all nail glues are created equal, and you want to closely examine those labels before committing to buying a whole bottle.

Some glues are more skin-friendly (hypoallergenic) while others are vegan. Based on your personal preferences and priorities, there will be a glue that fits your needs.

We’ve concluded that it’s usually best to just use a small amount of (good) nail glue and take the removal process seriously to keep our skin and natural nails healthy. 

Long lasting nail glue

Apply it Correctly for Easy Removal

It is impossible to overstate the importance of applying your press-on nails correctly if you want to avoid the negative side effects of nail glue.

Even if you think you have mastered the technique over years of using press-on nails, it’s never a bad idea to get a quick refresher course.

After all, applying nail glue properly can help you remove it safely and effectively when the time comes. Here are some tips:

  • Give yourself a quick mini-manicure before ever reaching for glue. Make sure your nails are clean, buffed, and slightly dried out with all oils removed.
  • Have your press-on nails ready and know beforehand which shells are going to go on which nail. Take the time to organize them so you don’t get confused.
  • Do not apply the nail glue on every finger before pressing on the nails. Do them one at a time because the glue dries fast.
  • Use the brush included in the glue bottle to very gently apply a light coat of glue to the nail, aiming for complete coverage but avoiding contact with the cuticle.
  • Proceed as normal with the application process to ensure a strong hold.

You will be surprised to see that just a little bit of glue can go a long way, and you’ve probably been using too much this whole time!

Plus, if you combine a bit of nail glue with the adhesive strips that are often included in the press-on nail kit, you’ll see just how little of the stuff you need for a firm hold. 

The next time you apply press-on nails, see if you can use a minimal amount of glue and make it easier on yourself when it’s time for removal.

The Perfect Routine to Remove Nail Glue

After about a week of holding strong, you will notice that even the most high-quality press-on nails will start to feel less secure on your natural nails.

You can usually make them last a few more days, but eventually, you’ll need to say goodbye and dedicate a chunk of time to removing them.

The tools you need to safely remove nail glue are probably already lying around the house.

Gather a small basin with warm water, some cotton balls, a nail file or buffer, an acetone-based nail polish remover, and some natural baby oil or olive oil if you have it.


Here are the basic steps you’ll want to follow:

  • Soak your hands in the basin, where you’ve mixed warm water and oil. Let them relax in there for about 10 minutes and allow the glue to soften up. 
  • From there, move your hands into a smaller bowl of acetone for only a few short minutes. You should notice the glue starts to deteriorate at this stage.
  • Gently pry at the base of the press-on nail where it meets the cuticle, rather than trying to peel it back from the tip. Each nail should come off easily.
  • Once all fake nails are removed, bring your hands back to the warm water and oil to soak the glue some more and help it come off.
  • If you still have residual glue on your natural nails, gently use a buffer to file away at the residue. Try to avoid buffing the nail itself.
  • Apply some healing cuticle oil or moisturizer to the nails when complete.

If you follow this process and take your time on each step, you’ll have your nails looking as good as new. Remember to keep those nails clean and moisturized to aid in recovery.

We recommend taking at least a couple of days to let your nail beds regenerate fully before you apply your next round of press-on nails or go in for a gel treatment, but we know it’s tough to resist! Just do your best to maintain your natural nails and maximize longevity. 

On the off chance you end up with glue on your skin, follow the same basic steps we described above, but focus more on soaking with warm water and soap. Either hop in the shower or run the area under warm water in the sink if possible.

If nail glue has somehow made its way to your eyes, mouth, or nose, definitely avoid using acetone and keep the warm water running. If you can’t get rid of the glue, see a doctor.

When removing nail glue, patience is a virtue! Just keep repeating those steps and you’ll be in the clear.

Black French Tip Fake Nails

Pick Press-Ons Nails that Last

It’s easy for us to talk about how nail glue can be such a pain in the butt, but we often forget that the press-on nails we select also have a big impact on the health and strength of our nails.

Cheap fake nails made of questionable chemical materials are just as much of a culprit for skin and nail problems as glue, and the combination of the two can cause serious issues long-term.

That’s why you need to do your research about which press-on nail brands are helping to promote nail health, rather than breaking them down.

The best press-on nails on the market are lightweight enough to let your nails breathe underneath, but maintain enough structure to last for at least a week.

You must select press-on nails that truly fit your nail bed and will not cause excess agitation to your cuticles. We’ve seen this happen way too often, and it’s just not worth damaging your hands in the name of style.

Our favorite press-on nails also come with adhesive strips so you don’t have to fully rely on glue to make them work.

So the next time you are on the prowl for a new press-on nail kit, remember to look for a product that keeps your natural nails both stylish and strong.


Dealing with nail glue can be a drag if you’re just getting started with press-on nails, but the more you learn and practice with it, the easier it becomes to use and remove.

Just like everyone has their unique style preferences when it comes to press-on nails, we all have preferred glues and methods that work best for us.

Keep trying new techniques, experiment with different products, and see what type of glue is easiest on your skin and nails. 

The more comfortable you feel applying and removing it, the better. 

If you are as obsessed with press-on nails as we are, be sure to follow us on all your favorite social media platforms and sign up for our email newsletter to get our most crucial updates. Or even get our fabulous press on nail sets delivered right to your door!

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