This Is The Trick To Making Press-On Nails Look Real


The other day, I sent a quick note over to my nail tech with just three simple words: "I miss you." Those are the same sentiments shared all over the world by manicure lovers like myself who haven't been able to sit in the chair of their beloved professionals due to social distancing regulations. And while some of us have simply resorted to embracing our natural nails, others, are finding a semblance of normalcy from press-on nails. Figuring out how to apply press-on nails isn't rocket science, and is marked by convenience and functionality. However, there is in fact a method you should follow if you want to maintain nail health during, in-between, and after use.

Read more: My Acrylic-Damaged Nails Looked Terrible Until I Tried These 12 Solutions

Ahead, check out the expert tips to a press-on application that lasts, keeps nail beds in tact, and lays the way you'd like.

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How To Apply Press-On Nails: Prep

"The first step would be to wash your hands," Ayesha Hopkins, founder of Sparkle Nail Bar in Clinton, Maryland tells TZR. Next of importance is cuticle health and dehydrating the nail bed, Sarah Nguyen, a New York City-based editorial and celebrity nail artist says. "Using a wood stick, gently push back your cuticles. Then lightly buff the nail plate using a buffer. Next, clean the nail and remove any dust by wiping the nail plate with rubbing alcohol or an acetone-based remover. This step is super important as this will remove any oils from the nail for better adhesion."

How To Apply Press-On Nails: Application

Your method of application really just depends on how long you want your press-ons to last. "If you are looking for a day or two wear, you can use double sided adhesive tabs by applying them to the nail, peeling off the tab, and pressing the false nail and holding for 10 seconds," Nguyen says. However, if you want something more reminiscent of a real full-set, nail glue is the way to go. "Using nail glue is safe and will allow the press-ons to stay on for about one to two weeks with proper application," Hopkins says. "The glue goes a long way and a small drop is all you’ll need."

And when it comes to shaping, the pros suggests taking a file to the bottom corners of the nail for a more realistic curve.

How To Apply Press-On Nails: If You Lose A Nail

It's inevitable that eventually a nail or two will find itself roaming away from the others. And when that happens, don't panic. Simply buff out the nail again, removing any residue from the previous application. "You don't necessarily need to push the cuticles back again, but I would buff your natural nail and dehydrate with rubbing alcohol or an acetone based remover," Nguyen says.

How To Apply Press-On Nails: Removal

The last thing you want to do during quarantine is ruin your nail beds. That said, a professional-style removal is a must. "If you don’t plan on reusing the press-ons just cut them down and soak your nails in pure acetone for about 15 minutes," Hopkins says. However, if you want to reuse the press-on, all you need is a little oil. "Saturate your nails with cuticle oil and then soak in hot soapy water," she says. "And if you don't have cuticle oil on hand, olive oil will do, too. The nails will start to lift and eventually pop off. This method is a little lengthy but with patience, it works!"

For her nails, Nguyen uses a combination of acetone and cuticle oil to on the underside of the nail for a removal that also acts as nail care. "The oil and alcohol will act like a double solvent to not only lift the adhesion, but hydrate your natural nail as well," Nguyen says.

How To Apply Press-On Nails: Post-Care

Once the nail is removed, rehydrating the nail bed should be first priority. "Buff the natural nail to assure you’ve removed all of the glue," Hopkins says. "Then, follow up with some cuticle oil." Consistent use of cuticle oils and gloves are especially essential now, in order to combat the drying effects of overwashed hands. "Make sure you are wearing gloves when you are cleaning or washing any dishes as extra moisture can build up between the nail plate and false nail sometimes creating nail fungus."