How to Stop Getting Hair Caught Under Press-On Nails

We love our press-on nails more than we probably should. They are so easy to put on, super affordable, and come in limitless shapes, colors, and styles.

Between the convenience, price, and looks, we aren’t surprised to see a huge rise in popularity for press-ons of all types.

But there is an ongoing problem impacting the entire press-on community that we need to address right now. Long hair keeps getting caught under the nails and stuck to the adhesive, driving us up the wall! It’s aggravating beyond belief.

Today we’re examining this problem from all angles and figuring out some definitive solutions. Stick to this plan and you’ll never have to deal with that nasty hair/adhesive combo again.

Take it Easy on the Glue

It’s impossible to track how many times nail glue has helped us out of a jam. Whether it’s fixing a loose press-on nail or helping us revitalize and an old set of our favorite accent nails, we always keep a few bottles in the medicine cabinet just in case.

However, we need to issue a fair warning about nail glue and tell those overzealous gluers to dial back the amount they use. Most of the time, a little bit goes a very long way.

We’ve found that the most common cause of stuck hair comes from the simple over-application of glue, so don’t treat your nails like a scrapbook!

That stuff is not only super-powerful, but it’s difficult to take off once applied, as you probably know. Typically one or two dips in the jar are all you need for complete coverage.

Also, recognize that the glue spreads out over the entire surface area of the nail when you apply those press-ons, so there’s no need to paint it on like you would with polish. 

Just a small dab in the center of the nail and you will be golden. Better yet, avoid glue altogether if you can and swap out those old nails for new ones if you have the ability to do so.

According to a thread on the beauty forum Influenster, glue exposure simply means the nail is reaching the end of its life cycle and is about to come off anyway. Use your best judgment to determine if it’s time for a total overhaul and start with a completely fresh set. 

Clean up those Cuticles

The next most common culprit for chronic hair-sticking is that your cuticles are not as pristine as you may wish to believe. Everyone struggles with this, so no shame in addressing it!

The underlying issue here is that with compromised cuticles, your press-on nails will not get that complete seal at the bottom of the application zone, which is where most hair gets stuck.

An in-depth article from Nails Mag goes into detail about the process that professional nail techs use to prep nails for acrylics, and we can learn a lot from the pros.

Here is a brief summary of how you should handle your cuticles for maximum adhesion and minimal sticking to your hair:

  • Make sure you remove the thin layer of dead skin from the natural nail before applying any glue or other adhesives. This can be done with some simple, small instruments.
  • Practice good at-home cuticle care by soaking them in warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes a few times a week. It’s actually very relaxing!
  • Be sure to properly moisturize the cuticle with specified products if you can. The moisturizer should be light and you don’t need much on each finger.
  • When you do go a nail salon, make sure they spend sufficient time and attention on treating your cuticles instead of going directly into the polish application.

It may seem unrelated to the topic at hand, but the truth is that cuticle health is heavily impacted by the treatments we put them through, and vise versa. 

Be more conscientious about how you take care of your cuticles, and you’ll find that every aspect of nail care and beauty will become way easier and less stressful.

Get Nails that Work for You

When it comes to selecting press-on nails, it’s easy to get carried away. It’s not unusual to find yourself with a huge inventory of press-ons, and not enough time to wear them all!

With that said, you need to find press-on nails that fit your personal nail profile, especially if you want to prevent the dreaded hair-sticking fiasco we’ve discussed so far.

Although most brands will claim that their products fit any and all nails, the truth is that we are all made a bit differently. Some protective coating can help fill in some gaps, but there are just some sets out there that won’t be compatible with our nail bed dimensions.

Yes, we know it can be devastating to learn that your favorite press-on nails are actually the reason why your hair keeps getting stuck, but it’s a reality we all need to face sometimes.

It’s important to try a few different manufacturers to see which press-on nails work best for you, then stick with the brands that work best for your shape.

There’s also a high chance that certain nail shapes from a single producer will meet your needs more than others, so try out those stilettos, coffins, rounds, and squares before moving on.

Master the Perfect Application

You can do a lot to prevent excess adhesive from snagging onto your hair just with proper maintenance and selecting the right press-on products.

But most of this problem can be addressed by simply getting better at the process of applying these nails in the first place. Master the basics and a lot of your issues will be solved.

We aren’t going to dive deep on the exact steps you should take when applying press-on nails, but there are some pointers we can offer that way too many people overlook.

  • Thoroughly cleanse before applying. Don’t expect your new nails to stick properly if your nail beds are not smooth and free of grit. Take the extra time to clean and prepare.
  • According to Self Magazine, the nail bed should have barely any moisture or oils at the time of application, and should even appear to be a bit dehydrated.
  • Check the numbers in the kit that correspond to the finger they go on. These are not interchangeable, and you should never freestyle this process.
  • Apply those press-on nails at an angle, starting where the bottom edge meets the cuticle. Use a good amount of pressure to create a hard seal.
  • Push the press-ons into the center of the nail after that, then pinch them on either side to ensure that they are fully attached and have no wiggle room.
  • Allow them to dry out completely before washing, exercising, or doing any activities that could disrupt them from adhering to the nail bed.

While some of these tips may seem obvious, you’d be surprised to learn how many people just don’t follow best practices when it comes to applying their press-on nails!

It’s always a good idea to take more time than you think is necessary to apply each and every nail the right way, rather than spending hours dealing with avoidable problems down the road.

Prevent Lifting by All Means

We touched on cuticle maintenance above, but there are a few other pro tips to make sure your press-on nails don’t lift unnecessarily and expose the adhesive to your long locks of hair.

Artificial nails can lift from the natural nail bed at any time, for any number of reasons. Many of these can be prevented with proper care and protocol.

Filing, for instance, is often a cause for separation, and many of us are overzealous to get that perfect shape. 

Realistically, you should not be filing press-on nails excessively, and if you feel compelled to do so, it probably just means you selected the wrong shape in the first place.

There’s also the issue of picking and biting nails, which needs to be eliminated as soon as possible. Prioritize ending this habit before you even think about getting press-on nails, and definitely before you purchase a more expensive manicure treatment.

Finally, you have basic issues of maintenance and care. To make your press-ons last as long as possible, keep your nails healthy inside and out, and take some time off if you think they need to heal from too many consecutive applications.


All of the tips and tricks we talked about here can help keep your healthy hair from sticking to your press-on nails. Plus, many of these suggestions are just good common sense that everyone should know!

If you are a press-on nail aficionado, be sure to check us out on Instagram and stay tuned for product drops with our email newsletter.

Until then, may your hair never get stuck to your nails again! 


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