7 Best Press-On Nails for an Instant Salon-Worthy Manicure
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These press-on nails will give you instantly gorgeous manicures with zero drying time!
Press-on nails are back in a big way
Press-on nails have come a long way since the only available options were the original plastic Lee Press-On Nails (which recently underwent a massive makeover themselves). Today’s best press-on nails come in different lengths, textures, and colors. And did we mention all the designs? From trendy nail art that capitalizes on each season’s biggest trends to incredibly complicated designs and Swarovski embellishments, these are definitely not your mother’s press-ons.
Why are press-on nails so popular right now?
Unlike traditional manicures, which chip almost as soon as you leave the salon, or gel manis, which can be pricey and use hard-to-remove gel polish, press-on nails are easy to apply and reuse, though removal can be slightly tricky. “Positives include ease of application, do-it-yourself, speed/efficiency, longer lasting/less chipping, and potentially less nail damage than soak-off gels,” says Dana Stern, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist. In addition to rivaling the best nail polishes and the best gel nail polishes, press-ons are one of the best ways to get a perfect manicure at home.
Along with the good parts, there are some things to be aware of if you’re prone to skin allergies. “Press-ons are made with an acrylate-based adhesive that is embedded in the underside of the sticker, and therefore additional glue is not needed,” Dr. Stern says. “The advantage here is that the acrylate is theoretically only coming into contact with the nail and not the surrounding skin.” That said, if you apply a press-on and feel “burning, heat, or any discomfort with application, do not proceed, as you likely have an acrylate allergy.”
Another trend that you should be on the lookout for is Russian manicures.
How long do press-on nails last?
If you’re looking for how to make nail polish last, here’s your answer. One of the best parts of press-on nails is the longevity factor. And instead of wearing them just once, you can reuse most of them—if you take proper precautions. Since not all press-on nails are made the same, be sure to read the packaging so you have an idea of how long they’ll last and what the proper care is. For example, the packaging for top brand Nails of LA’s press-on extensions offers options for short-term wear using adhesive tabs, or long-term wear using glue application.
Just be aware that using glue or wearing the nails longer than recommended could potentially damage your nail bed. Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and the author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, advises “use the self-adhesive on the press-on nails. Do not add glue, as it’s more damaging to the nail plate.”
How to remove press-on nails
If you apply your press-on nails correctly, they’ll be a lot easier to remove without damaging your nails. “The damage from most nail products, be it basic polish, soak-off gels, or dips, usually lies in the removal process,” Dr. Stern says. “Some products require a 10-minute acetone soak. Similar to soak-off gels, this can cause considerable dehydration to the nail, surrounding cuticle, and nail fold, leading to brittleness and hang nails. Other brands require gentle peeling for removal and recommend using acetone if the product proves difficult to remove. But if the product can be easily removed without acetone, that is a big advantage.”
If you notice superficial white patches on your nails, Dr. Stern says they can be gently buffed and moisturized to treat the nail bed. And Dr. Jaliman says to “use warm water and oil to remove the press-on nails.” Cuticle oil works great when removing your press-on nails as well.
Whether you’re looking for a trendy upgrade or want to keep things classic, we found some of the best press-on nails at every price point.
I Hope So Voguish Fantasy Nail Kit
If you’ve become the queen of DIY manis, here’s a fun and easy way to switch up your regular nail routine. With three designs including a matte putty color, pale marble (think French manicure that’s a bit extra), and one design with sparkle, this nail kit is a not-so-boring look in spring nail colors that works equally well for an evening soirée or last-minute meeting. These are definitely our pick for best press-on nail value.
- Lasts for a full week
- Two ways to apply
- Might not withstand extreme activity
Kiss Masterpiece False Nails in Soul in the Luxury
If you’re planning on meeting up with friends for cocktails and conversation, we suggest the best press-on nails to look extra glam (and sparkly) around your glass. At an affordable price, this luxe instant mani has a nice selection of matte, sparkly, and chrome nails. We also love the fact that there are 30 nails in case you make any mistakes, or you can hold onto the extras and wear one as an accent nail the next time you go for a regular mani.
- Brings the bling
- Comes with extras
- Can wear as accent nails
- May be difficult to file down the jeweled pieces if desired
Best classic look
OPI Cajun Shrimp imPRESS Color Press-On Manicure
If you prefer the look of a classic manicure, you should chose medium length nails along with colors like fiery red, sheer pink, or hues that best match your skin tone. We love the idea of a classic red mani, which can add a little oomph to your basic look—and with press-ons, you don’t have to worry about how to get nail polish out if you spill red color all over the place. Like most of the best press-on nail kits, this one includes the nails along with a prep pad, a mini file, and a wooden stick. They’re also waterproof, so you can head to the pool without panicking. These are our pick for best press-on nails in a classic style.
- Vibrant color
- Comes with prep pad and file
- May need to file down for petite hands
Maitys 240-Piece Extra-Long Press on Nails in Solid Colors
If you’re planning on traveling this summer and still want your nails to look perfect, you can try this giant selection of press-on nails. There are colors ranging from sheerest shell pink to practically black, so you can match your outfit or mood. It’s also a fun way to have a girls night in: Simply select the color that works for you and share the rest with your besties. We vote this one the best press-on nails with a wide selection.
- Huge range of colors
- Perfect for a nail party
- Easy to switch up your look
- Very long, so you’ll need a nail cutter if you want them shorter
Best DIY acrylics
KISS Complete Salon Acrylic Kit
If you’re big on DIY projects, you might enjoy creating your own press-on masterpieces. This acrylic kit contains pretty much everything you need to have an at-home salon experience. It’s similar to what you would get at the nail salon if you opted for acrylics—basically, fancy fake nails that take some experience and technique to apply. Bear in mind that this kit heavily concentrates on tips, though, so if you’re not an expert at placing your press-ons or painting them afterward, you might want to choose a set of already polished nails. Another of our pro manicure tips: You can add a top coat to your DIY acrylics as well, and apply hand lotion for that salon experience.
- Acrylics for a fraction of the salon cost
- Looks professional
- Takes some practice to apply perfectly
Best for kids
imPRESS Mini Press-on Manicure Cutie Pie
Get ready for cuteness overload with these absolutely adorable press-on nails made for tiny fingers. With “Mom-approved” right on the package, these nail art designs have no toxic ingredients for young users and do not require glue. They are also easy to remove when kids are done with them. With the amazing retro cherry and polka dot design, these get our vote for best press-on nail patterns.
- Adorable designs
- Won’t damage natural nails
- A little too easy to remove, so they don’t last long
Best chic design
Nails of LA: The Chillest Press-On Extensions
If you have smaller fingers and nail beds to begin with, or just aren’t sure which size press-on nails to choose, a good rule of thumb (pun intended!) is to select a size that seems one size too small. “These press-ons are very flexible and are meant to be pushed down and flattened against the curvature of your nail,” says celebrity nail artist Brittney Boyce, founder of Nails of LA. With a nude base and a linear design in bold hues, these are undoubtedly our pick for most chic press-on nails. If you’re going for a flawless, salon-quality DIY mani, you could also try liquid latex for a professional look.
- Ultra-modern designs
- Easy to apply
- Online only
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- Dana Stern, MD, New York City–based dermatologist
- Debra Jaliman, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and author Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist
- Brittney Boyce, celebrity nail artist and founder of Nails of LA