Not everyone has the time, energy, or cash to be hitting the nail salon every week, or applying fresh coats themselves.
It’s no surprise why the press-on nail scene has become so big lately. It is way more mainstream now than a few years ago, and we think that’s great.
Lots of people are new to the press-on nail scene, and there are some key things to know.
What makes some press-on nails better than others?
Is it all about looks? What about comfort factor or ease of application?
What if I want to reuse them after they’ve been removed?
These are all legitimate questions, and they all make a difference when figuring out the best nails to buy.
Let’s do a quick rundown of the best methods to apply and remove press-on nails, then answer a few key questions before comparing the best brands in the industry.
How to apply press-on nails
Applying press-on nails is way easier than you think, and once you get used to the process it can be a fun ritual just like using polish.
The first step before any manicure attempt is a deep cleanse of your nails and fingers.
Be thorough and use an alcohol pad if need be, because the last thing you want is any bits of dirt or grime to interfere with the delicate process of application.
Once the cleanse is complete, you have a perfect landing zone for the press-on nails of your choice, and those new nails will also last longer with a better adhesive grip.
Your next move is optional: to glue or not to glue?
The best press-on nails are super sticky and will last up to a week in most cases, but a little dab of extra glue can extend the life of those little works of art another few days.
It is totally up to you how you want to approach this part, and it will depend on whether you are just going for a quick fix or planning for a long week and a half.
If you do choose to reach for glue, use it sparingly because that is some serious stuff!
Crack open the kit and make sure you know exactly which nail is going to go on each finger. We’ve messed this up before and trust us, it sucks!
Just check out the simple chart in the box and you should be fine.
Once everything is ready to rock, start by lining up the cuticles of both nails and gently press down on that line.
Lower the rest of the nail slowly from back to front and continue to apply steady pressure.
Once you’ve made sort of a seal (watch out for little air pockets), you can start pressing against the sides of the nail to get a perfect fit.
Be ready to press and pinch for at least 30 seconds to make sure those babies are on tight.
Take your time with each nail and don’t rush it! You are going to want to let them dry and be still for a few minutes before starting to contour and file.
Voila! You did it. How do they look?
How to remove press-on nails
One key advantage to press-on nails is the ease of removal, and anyone who loves traditional manicures knows what a pain that stinky polish remover can be.
Removing press-ons is way less annoying. All you do is soak the nails in warm water and oil for a few minutes and they should wiggle right off.
Just wait for the water and oil to do the work for you, because it isn’t worth damaging your nails with too much ripping and tearing.
If you opted for glue during the application, you’ll want to use an acetone-based remover, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to get all that residue off. Again, be gentle!
How long do press-on nails last
The great thing about press-on nails is that they are so easy to swap on and off, but if you really want to make them last, we recommend not going over 10 days.
We’ve all been in situations where we’ve had some press-on nails stay beyond their welcome, and let’s just say it’s not cute.
Adhesives start to weaken, colors begin to fade and you may even get some unpleasant friction against your cuticles. At that point, just shut it down!
Still, a solid week of press-on prestige is not a bad deal, especially when you compare the prices with a professional manicure with high-end polish.
Keep in mind that the longer and more elaborate the nails are, the tougher it will be to keep them squeaky clean, especially if you’re wearing them at work, the gym, etc.
We’ve accidentally broken more nails than we can count, so we’ve become pretty good at navigating the world with them, but even press-on professionals get chipped now and then.
A more realistic lifespan for press-on nails is about 5 to 7 days, which is perfect if you are already locked into a weekly schedule for manicure maintenance.
Can you reuse press-on nails
While we wish we could use the same press-ons over and over, the reality is that they just aren’t the same after more than a week of use.
Sure you can clean them up and even add a little extra paint, but just being exposed to the elements for a while is enough to make these nails lose their original sheen.
With that said, you can bring press-on nails back in action in a pinch, and if you’re cool adding some extra glue, you can even extend their lifespan.
Some brands retain their gleam and structure better than others, and the more complex the pattern, the tougher it will be to maintain.
We recommend trying out a bunch of different options and seeing what holds up better on your hands for long periods.
What styles do press-on nails come in
Now let’s talk about the fun stuff: styles! This is a big reason why the press-on trend is gaining so much traction: You can rock innovative looks that are tough to pull off with paint.
Of course, most of the classics are made available by the big brands out there. Deep reds, all shades of pink and pastel collections for spring.
French Nails sets are also popular, and you can find most neutral tones if you want a more low-key look.
Where press-ons really shine, though, is with the sharp accents and patterns that would be a pain in the butt to do yourself (or pay for).
We’re talking about eye-popping jelly and 3D designs, glistening crystals and jewels, and even intricate designs that would take a serious professional touch to achieve!
You can also find stunning shapes that are very tough to pull off naturally. We love the bold coffin and stiletto looks, but you can also find classic round and square shapes, too.
Don’t forget about all the amazing finishes, from subtle glossy and matte to wild glitter and chrome.
That’s the real beauty of press-on nails: get out of your comfort zone without spending a ton of time or cash and try out something crazy!
Best-selling press-on nails
Now that we’re all experts on how to properly handle press-on nail application and removal, it’s time to talk brands! Which best-selling products should you seek out, and which can you skip?
We’ve listed four of the most popular press-on nail producers out there right now and ranked them starting with the best. Just our opinions of course… which one do you like best?
1. Clutch Nails
Lots of cosmetics producers do a ton of different things but fail to master any particular one.
We like Clutch Nails because they are a NAILS ONLY company. And that singular focus on a stellar product is what sets them apart from the rest.
They may not be a jack of all trades, but a master of one.
They have a super clean and easy-to-navigate site is the best spot on the web for newcomers to the press-on nail movement.
You can shop by shape, finish, or length, and then refine your search to find the perfect set for your needs. Watch out though, because you will want to buy everything on the site at once!
From classic crème caramel colors to psychedelic pastels, there is a set for literally any occasion you can think of, from a crazy summer music festival to a formal wedding dinner.
On top of all that, the prices are amazing, and they’re always coming out with new lines for different seasons and trends.
Clutch Nails lives up to its name, offering simple, sexy, and affordable press-on nails.
2. Kiss Nails
We have a ton of love for the Kiss cosmetic product lines, and their glue-on nails match the high level of quality we’ve come to expect from this brand.
These nails are affordable and come in tons of pretty styles but be aware that their press-on selection is still lacking. Most of their products require glue, but we’re cool with that.
If there’s one style that Kiss really NAILS, it’s the French Nude look. They have the perfect fade and colors that complement any skin color. The same goes for classic glossy pinks and reds.
The Kiss Glam collection also features tons of funky gems and sparkles if you want to turn it up all the way! Check out the Masterpiece set if you want to feel like royalty.
We should mention that Kiss is marketing toward a slightly older crowd, so we miss some of the funky, flirty patterns we like from other brands.
We’ll see if Kiss branches out to that market soon, but for now, they are a solid option.
3. ImPRESS Nails
The first thing that stands out about ImPRESS is quality. The nails fit great and they stay on for a long time without any issues.
Also, no glue necessary!
We also love the super-clean pastels and their latest forward-thinking collab with Rebecca Minkoff. There’s something for everyone on their site, young and old.
We are less crazy about their gemstone designs, as they look a bit cluttered for our taste.
ImPRESS also falls short on a variety of nail shapes, which is one of our main draws to the product.
But if you’re just looking for some really solid, round glossy nails that fit perfectly and resist wear and tear, this going to be your best bet.
4. Dashing Div
We owe a lot to the geniuses behind Dashing Diva, which is widely regarded as the brand to bring press-on nails to the world all the way back in 1998.
At one point in the 2000s, this company was responsible for producing 90% of the artificial nails in the entire world, with 70 unique patents! Talk about pioneering new territory.
The biggest thing Dashing Diva has going for it now is SELECTION. There is an overwhelming amount of variety on the site, especially for press-on pedicures.
They also sell tons of useful little items like nail protectors, which make it easy to peel-off your press-ons and not do any excess damage. We appreciate the individual sticky gemstones they offer for more customizable looks, as well.
But while Dashing Diva was once at the top of the press-on scene, she’s no longer Queen.
A lot of the styles are played out and remind us a bit too much of the 90s (in a less nostalgic way).
The big centerpiece gems in some of the kits are clunky looking, and we don’t love the layout of the site, either.
Don’t be mistaken, because DD is still a top contender, but simply not the champ anymore.
It’s clear to see why press-on nails have seen such a huge boost in popularity lately.
They are super simple to buy, apply, and remove, plus there are infinite awesome styles to pick from for any situation.
Get into the press-on game and expand your style horizons with ease!