What Are Press On Nails? 2 Main Types

by  Mila M.Cosmetologist

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Craving a striking manicure but missing the time to visit a salon? Consider press-on nails – durable, artificial nails designed for easy and quick application. This article is your ultimate guide that will walk you through what press-on nails are, how they work, and how best to apply them.

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  • Press-on nails are artificial nails that can be easily applied and removed at home without the need for professional salon services.
  • They are made from materials like acrylic resin, gel, or ABS plastic and come pre-painted with nail polish.
  • Press-on nails can be applied using glue or adhesive strips, providing a quick and convenient way to achieve salon-quality manicures.
  • They offer durability and long-lasting shine, lasting up to two weeks with proper care.

What Are Press-On Nails?

Press-On Nails are artificial nails that can be easily applied and removed without the need for professional salon services.


Press-on nails are a type of artificial nail that you can easily apply at home. Produced from materials like acrylic resin, gel, or ABS plastic and polished with nail paint, these nails offer durability and long-lasting shine.

They stick to your natural nails using glue and give the appearance of a salon-style manicure without investing too much time. Often commended for their light weight and low-maintenance features, they have become increasingly popular due to their affordability compared to professional services.

Most press-on nail kits come stocked with the essentials – the fake nails themselves, tools such as cuticle pushers and files, along with the all-important adhesive.

How Do They Work?

Press-on nails work by adhering to the natural nail using glue or adhesive strips. These artificial nails, made of acrylic resin, gel, or ABS plastic, are pre-painted with nail polish and come in a variety of sizes and designs.

To apply them, you simply choose the right size for each nail, prep your natural nails by cleaning and filing them, and then carefully attach the press-on nails using glue or adhesive strips.

They provide a quick and convenient way to achieve salon-quality manicures at home without the need for extensive drying time or expensive salon visits. With their long-lasting durability and trendy designs, press-on nails offer an accessible option for achieving beautiful nail art in just minutes!

2 Types of Press-On Nails

Press-on nails come in two main types: kits with glue and adhesive strips.

Kits with glue

Press-on nail kits with glue are a popular choice for those who want to achieve salon-quality manicures at home. These kits typically include a variety of pre-made artificial nails, a cuticle pusher, a file, and nail glue.

Applying press-on nails from these kits is easy and quick, taking only about 30 minutes or less. Simply prep your natural nails by cleaning them thoroughly and pushing back the cuticles.

Then, select the appropriate size of press-on nail for each finger and apply it using the included glue. Once applied, you can customize the design with your favorite gel polish or nail art.

Adhesive strips

Adhesive strips are a convenient alternative to glue when it comes to applying press-on nails. These strips are pre-cut and pre-sized, making them easy to use for a quick and hassle-free application.

Simply peel off the backing from the strip, align it with your nail, and press down firmly to secure the nail in place. The adhesive on these strips is strong enough to hold the nails securely, yet gentle enough that they can be easily removed without causing damage to your natural nails.

With adhesive strips, you can enjoy beautiful manicured nails without the mess or fuss of traditional nail glue.

4 Tips on How to Apply Press-On Nails

To apply press-on nails, start by prepping your natural nails by removing any old polish and pushing back your cuticles. Then, size and fit the press-on nails to each of your nails.

Apply a small amount of nail glue or use adhesive strips to adhere the press-on nails to your natural nails. Finally, customize the design with nail polish or nail art if desired.

Prep your nails

To get your nails ready for applying press-on nails, start by gently filing and shaping them to your desired length. Use a nail buffer or a gentle file to smooth out any rough edges.

Next, push back your cuticles using a cuticle pusher or an orangewood stick. This will create a clean canvas for the press-on nails to adhere to. Finally, cleanse your nails with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to remove any oils or residue that may prevent the glue from sticking properly.

By prepping your nails correctly, you’ll ensure that the press-on nails stay in place longer and look flawless.

Sizing and fitting

To ensure a perfect fit for your press-on nails, it’s important to properly size and fit them before applying. Most press-on nail kits come with a variety of sizes to choose from, so start by selecting the ones that closely match the width of your natural nails.

Place each pre-sized press-on nail over your natural nail to check for proper fit. The press-on nail should cover the entire width of your natural nail without extending beyond the sides.

If it’s too wide, gently file down the edges until it fits perfectly. Remember, a snug fit is essential for long-lasting wear and a natural look.

Applying the nails

To apply press-on nails, start by prepping your natural nails. Trim and file them to your desired shape, and gently push back the cuticles using a cuticle pusher. Next, select the correct size press-on nail for each finger.

Apply a small amount of nail glue to the back of the press-on nail and carefully place it onto your natural nail, pressing down firmly for a few seconds to ensure it adheres properly.

Repeat this process for all your fingers. Finally, customize the design by applying nail polish or adding any desired embellishments. Remember to let everything dry completely before using your hands.

Customizing the design

Customizing the design of your press-on nails is one of the best things about them. With a wide range of shades, patterns, and finishes available, you can create any look you desire.

Whether you prefer a classic French manicure or want to experiment with bold colors and intricate nail art, press-on nails offer endless possibilities. You can also easily switch up your style whenever you want by removing the current set and applying a new design.

No need to spend hours in a salon or worry about smudging wet polish – just choose your desired design and enjoy beautiful nails in no time!

Longevity and Removal

Press-on nails typically last around one to two weeks with proper care, and they can be easily removed using acetone nail polish remover. Want to know how to make them last longer? Curious about the best way to remove press-on nails without damaging your natural nails? Read on!

How long do they last?

Press-on nails are known for their durability and long-lasting wear. On average, press-on nails can last up to two weeks without any signs of chipping or losing their shine. They maintain their shape and hold up well against daily activities like typing, washing dishes, and even showering.

With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy beautiful manicured nails for an extended period of time.

4 Tips for making them last longer

To make your press-on nails last longer, there are a few tips you can follow.

Firstly, make sure to properly prep your natural nails by cleaning them and removing any oils or residue. This will help the adhesive stick better.

Secondly, choose the correct size of press-on nail that fits your natural nail bed. Sizing is important for ensuring a secure fit that won’t easily pop off.

Additionally, avoid excessive contact with water as it can weaken the adhesive over time. When applying pressure or putting on tight gloves, be mindful of your nails to prevent any accidental damage or lifting.

And finally, consider using a top coat or clear nail polish to seal the edges of the press-on nails and provide extra protection against chipping and peeling.

How to remove press-on nails

To remove press-on nails, start by soaking a cotton ball in acetone and placing it on top of each nail. Secure the cotton ball in place with aluminum foil. Let your nails soak for about 10-15 minutes to soften the glue.

Gently apply pressure to the nail and wipe away any remaining residue using a clean cotton pad or paper towel. Once all the nails are removed, use a soft buffer to smooth out any rough edges left behind.

Remember to moisturize your hands and nails afterwards to keep them healthy and hydrated.

Though press-on nails provide an easy and convenient way to achieve salon-worthy manicures at home, it’s important to follow proper removal techniques to prevent damage to your natural nails.

3 Pros and Cons of Press-On Nails

The pros and cons of press-on nails should be considered before deciding if they are the right choice for you.

Convenience and cost

Press-on nails offer a convenient and cost-effective option for achieving fabulous nails without the hassle or expense of salon visits. They can be applied quickly in just 30 minutes or less, saving you time and effort.

With press-on nails, you have access to trendy and luxurious nail art designs at all times, allowing you to change up your look whenever you desire. Additionally, press-on nails are more lightweight and lower maintenance compared to salon-style nails, making them easy to wear on a daily basis.

Best of all, they are more affordable than regular salon manicures, providing an accessible option for those on a budget. So if you’re looking for convenience and value without compromising on style, press-on nails are the way to go!

Potential damage to natural nails

Press-on nails can be a great alternative to salon manicures, but it’s important to be aware of the potential damage they can cause to your natural nails. Although press-on nails are designed to be gentle on your nails, excessive and improper use can lead to weakened and brittle natural nails.

This is because the adhesive used to attach the press-on nails may strip away the top layer of your nail bed, leaving them vulnerable. To minimize potential damage, make sure you follow the proper application and removal process outlined in our previous sections.

Additionally, give your natural nails a break in between wearing press-on nails to allow them time to recover and strengthen naturally. Remember that maintaining good nail care practices is essential for healthy, beautiful-looking nails.

Comparison to other manicure options

Press-on nails offer a convenient and cost-effective alternative to other manicure options. Unlike traditional salon-style nails, press-on nails can be easily applied at home in just 30 minutes or less.

They provide access to trendy and luxurious nail art without the need for expensive salon visits. Press-on nails are also more lightweight and lower maintenance compared to acrylic or gel nails.

They don’t chip easily and maintain their shine and shape for longer periods of time. Plus, they are more affordable than salon manicures, making them a great choice for those on a budget.


In conclusion, press-on nails offer a convenient and cost-effective way to achieve beautiful manicured nails at home. With their easy application and wide variety of designs, they provide a quick and hassle-free alternative to salon-style nails.

While there may be some potential damage to natural nails, the benefits of press-on nails make them a popular choice for those seeking trendy and long-lasting nail art.


1. What are press on nails?

Press on nails, also known as false or glue-on nails, are premade artificial nail extensions that can be easily applied at home for a quick manicure.

2. How do you apply press on nails?

You can apply press on nails by first cleaning your natural nails with acetone for removal of any residual polish; then file them down to the desired shape using a glass nail file, and finally attach the false nails using special adhesive.

3. Can you reuse press on nails?

Yes! Quality reusable nails come in many different shades and designs which can be removed carefully after use and reapplied later without damaging your natural nail.

4. Are acrylics the same as press-on nails?

No, although they both serve as nail enhancements, acrylics require professional application involving liquid and powder mixture hardened onto your original nail – while press ons are ready-made sets that you stick onto your existing fingernails.

5. What’s included in an at-home manicure set with Press On Nails?

Most at-home manicure sets with Press-On Nails include a pack of false or glue-on-nails in various sizes, adhesives for applying them, and sometimes even accompanying tools like a glass nail file or acetone for preparation of your natural canvas.

What Are Press On Nails? 2 Main Types
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Mila, the veteran beauty cosmetics professional and author of this article, while cutting and styling the hair of her client

Hi! I’m Mila M. I share my 44 year-experience as a Cosmetologist & Beauty Professional in this blog. This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Consult your trusted Beauty Professional for your personal beauty needs.

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