Nail polish, who?

By Susan Brickell
May 04, 2020
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Whether you need a quick fix for a chipped mani or like to change up your manicure weekly to match your mood, press-on nails are an affordable, effective alternative when you don't have the time or cash to get to the salon. Not to mention, utilizing press-ons between manicures can also give your natural nails a break from the damage that comes with using polishes and gel. (Related: Exactly How to Get a Salon-Quality Manicure At Home)

And luckily, thanks to all the great press-on nails available now, they're hard to mess up. Here's what you need to know about how to apply press-on nails and the best press-on nails to buy.

The Best Way to Apply Press-On Nails

If you're a press-on nail newbie, you should know that the nails that come in your kit vary in size. Refer to the numbers on the back of the press-ons, which coordinate with your different nails—for instance, 11 is typically the smallest (for your pinky finger) and zero is the largest (for your thumb). Between sizes? Go with the smaller press-on so that it doesn't uncomfortably overlap onto your skin. (No one will be the wiser!)

Like with any manicure, prepping nails before applying press-ons is essential. Wash your hands and thoroughly dry them. Take off old nail polish with polish remover or swipe a cotton ball soaked in alcohol over bare nails to cleanse them of any dirt or oil. You can also push back your cuticles to remove excess skin, if you prefer, so the press-on sits closer to your nail bed. (Related: How to Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home Without Wrecking Your Nails)

Your press-ons should come with some sticky adhesive tape for seamless applying, which is perfect for those who want to conceal a chipped mani or need a quick fix (like for a weekend wedding or last-minute date). Press-ons can last up to a week, but if you want to extend the life of your manicure, you can also add a dab of glue to get even more wear out of them.

Once you're ready to apply, hold the faux nail up to your cuticle line and gently push the nail down, putting pressure on the center and then on the edges to ensure it adheres to your nail. When you've attached all your press-ons, you'll then want to file them to get your desired shape and to smooth any rough edges. Filing your press-ons will also help to make them look more natural and less fresh-out-of-the-box. (Related: The Low-Maintenance Mani Trend That Won't Damage Your Nails)

Most press-on nails aren't reusable, but if you want to minimize your waste (and if you really love a certain design), you can opt for a reusable set (like the Static Nails set below) that you can remove and re-apply whenever you like.

Feeling confident and ready to wow your friends and colleagues with your new handy DIY? With endless options out there, you're bound to find a press-on kit to fit your aesthetic and lifestyle—whether it be edgy, playful, elegant, or minimalist. But to make things easier, keep scrolling for a list of the best press-on nails for a salon-worthy, damage-free manicure at home.

Rebecca Minkoff x imPress Ibiza Nights Impress Nails 


Kiss imPress Room Service Manicure


Dashing Diva Magic Press Brave New World Press-On Gel Nails


Kiss imPress Shimmer Manicure


Dashing Diva Magic Press Glam Squad Press-On Gel Nails


Kiss imPress Broadway Nails Manicure in Tweetheart

Dashing Diva Magic Press Full Spectrum Press On Gel Nails


Rebecca Minkoff x Kiss imPress Desert Glow Impress Nails


Static Nails UO Exclusive Reusable Pop-On Manicure Kit



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