How to Put On Fake Nails Without Glue

With so much hype surrounding press-on nails, everyone is looking for tips from the pros.

How do you put artificial nails on correctly? How do you get false nails to last longer? What is the best way to remove them, and can you use them for your mani again?

There are all legitimate questions, but there’s one subtopic that seems to be avoided more often than not when talking about the perfect nails - glue.


We know, it’s not the most exciting part of the press-on nail revolution, but we have to address it at some point. Do we need glue, homemade glue, or super glue to apply our fake nails, or is there an alternative?

Today we’re looking at the role that glue plays in the world of press-on nails and offering you some press-on nail tips to put them on without using glue at all.

Why Glue in the First Place?

While press-on nails are less expensive than going to a nail salon for a full treatment, we do spend good money on kits, and we want to make our investments worthwhile.

For this reason, we tend to use nail glue as a perfectly normal step in the press-on application process. More often than not, it’s part of the instructions on the kit, and we don’t second-guess.

The advantages of nail glue are many! First of all, it’s super easy to use, even on your first time. Just a little brush is all you need to make sure the nails press on properly, and after about 30 seconds of downward pressure, you’ve achieved a major style upgrade through gluing.

Glue is also relatively inexpensive, and a small bottle will last you a long time. There are so many nail glue products out there that have different pros and cons. Some are vegan, others are more heavy-duty. It’s totally up to you which one suits your needs.

When you are first getting into the press-on nail game, it’s smart to purchase a few different bottles of glue and see which ones deliver on durability, comfort, and cost-effectiveness.

Everyone’s natural nails are slightly different in terms of texture, and our natural oils and the products we use have an impact on how glues interact. If a particular type of glue isn’t working for you, don’t hesitate to give it away, toss it in the trash and move onto something else.

According to an article from Bustle, there are some key factors to consider when selecting nail glue. How fast does it harden, how much do you have to use, and is it reasonably healthy for your skin, cuticle, and nails? Keep those things and mind and you’ll make the right call! 


Easy to apply press on nails

The Downsides of Using Glue

If you feel like you must use glue to make those DIY press-ons last (we all have), there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

First of all, never use too much. You’ve heard the expression “a little goes a long way” and that applies to using nail glue. 

Just a light coat on the nail bed is all you need to ensure adhesion, and any more than that will end up doing more harm than good for your manicure or pedicure.

Of course, there are downsides to nail glue that we need to mention.

Above all, it’s been made clear by science (and our own experiences) that glue is far from a natural substance, and ideally, we wouldn’t have to use it at all.

Super-healthy hippie gurus will tell you that if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t use it anywhere on your body. We’re not quite on that level, but we get the point.

Too much glue use over time can degrade the quality of the nail bed and make it trickier to grow strong and healthy nails in the long term.

We recommend that you take it easy on the glue, try to find more natural solutions if you can (they’re becoming more common) and every once in a while go glue-free to restore the natural oils and cell structure of your real nails.

If you do run into an unfortunate situation where nail glue gets stuck to your skin, Healthline has some tips to ensure you get out of that sticky situation.

Most of the tools you need are probably already in your medicine cabinet. Nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or nail acetone, cotton balls, a nail file or buffer, and some basic cuticle oil.

The process is pretty self-explanatory. Just soak, scrub, douse with remover and let the chemicals do their work slowly but steadily. 

It’s going to take some time and you may get frustrated that things aren’t moving fast, but promise us you will not do any excessive pulling or scraping. That’s not going to help your or your own nails. Just be patient and everything will wash away easily.


Some Solid Alternatives

We get it, glue is not the most natural and healthy stuff in the world. We figured that out in grade school when we were told to keep it out of our eyes!

So what do we do about our press-on nails? They don’t just stick on their own.

Well, according to an article from WikiHow, there are several alternatives to nail glue that appear to do the job quite well, provided you use the proper technique.

The first one worth mentioning is double-sided tape. This stuff comes in many different forms, and some are way stickier than others.

To begin, definitely pick up some fashion tape, because that’s only meant to last a day. Perfect for seeing if it’s the right solution for you.

The application process is pretty straightforward with tape. Carve it up to fit your nail and the press-on shell, then apply pressure on the nail bed until the adhesive process is complete.

Again, it’s rare to make this tape work for more than 24 hours, so you may find yourself annoyed at having to apply the same nails day after day. 

Some tapes are stickier, but it’s rare to find stuff in-stores that will have the same long-term effectiveness as glue.

If you’re just one of those people who can’t stand the sight, smell, and feel of nail glue, however, the tape may be the ticket you’ve been looking for all along!

Black French Tip Nails

Press-Ons that Don’t Damage Nails

We tend to obsess about how press-on nails look and how long they last, which is understandable. But we should also consider the health of our nails when selecting press-on products since longevity is a priority.

Buying press-on nails that don’t require a lot of glue, or no glue at all, is your best bet to maintaining strong and healthy nails in the long run.

Some companies make press-on nails that have a bit of adhesive pre-applied to the nail, so if you can find those on the shelves or online, it may help you steer clear of that gooey glue.

Alternatively, many manufacturers sell fake nails that are specially designed to be compatible with certain clear nail polishes that help them stick. Like we discussed before, these polishes effect similar to glue but are far less serious and easier to remove.

At the end of the day, you want to select press-on nails that suit your style, but also don’t compromise your nail beds. If you come across super-cheap fake nails that appear to require a ton of nasty glue to stay on, it’s probably wise to leave them on the shelf.

Even if you have to boost your monthly nail budget by a few bucks, it’s worth it to preserve the natural shape and strength of your nail beds so you can enjoy them for years to come.

Checkered Flag Nails


It’s a love/hate relationship with nail glue, and many of us are still figuring it out.

On one hand, we are fully dedicated to the art of beautiful, long-lasting press-on nails, and we want to make each kit last as long as possible.

In terms of pure longevity and durability, it’s hard to argue that nail glue is the best adhesive option to accomplish most of these goals.

On the other hand, however, nail glue has drawbacks that can’t be ignored. It’s not the healthiest material for our skin or nails, it has some sketchy chemicals on the label, and we’ve all seen what it does when stuck to our hair or clothes.

Luckily, we’ve identified a handful of solid alternative adhesives that you can use to make those DIY nails stick without the annoyances of glue. 

Whether you choose two-sided tape, clear top coat polish, or another home-crafted sticky strategy, you have to do what works best for you. Who knows, you might be the one to patent the next skin-safe nail adhesive that changes the game forever!

Until that perfect solution comes along, just stick with the stuff that makes you the most comfortable and allows you to safely wear your favorite press-on styles.

If you want to stay in the know about all the latest and greatest press-on nail trends, tutorials, and topics, from matte to nail art to dip powder, be sure to follow us on social media and if you want to worry less about poor quality nail glue, you can have our easy to apply press on nails delivered right to your door.

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