I get a lot of questions about my nails, mostly because they're outstandingly perfect almost all the time and I have a different manicure nearly every week. Here's my secret that's not really a secret because I talk about it all the time: they're press-on nails. And not just press-on nails. They're glue-free, peel-and-stick press-on nails that take less than 10 minutes to apply.
Please note that I am not an affiliate for any beauty or cosmetic brands, so I do not make money off any of the links shared on this page. I'm just a big fan of press-on nails.
I love having well-manicured nails, but it's basically impossible for me to keep my nail enamel chip-free for more than two days. My job requires that I'm always tapping away at a keyboard or my phone screen, so chipping happens pretty easily. Plus, I hate getting gel manicures done. They're gorgeous and long-lasting, but the curing process makes my natural nails hurt and absolutely wrecks them. I also don't have the patience for the removal process that traditional gel manicures require.
Press-on manicures are long-lasting, chip-proof, affordable, mess-free, and convenient. What's not to like?
Yes! I'm a big fan of imPRESS nails. They're inexpensive, come in a variety of colors, designs, shapes, and sizes, and you can easily find them at Ulta, CVS, and Target if you don't want to order them online. I own an embarrassing number of imPRESS nail sets, mostly because they're frequently releasing new designs for holidays and special occasions. It's definitely an obsession.
If I'm feeling extra fancy, I'll order a set of press-on nails from Dashing Diva, which you can also find at Sally Beauty and Ulta. They're a bit pricier than imPRESS, but Dashing Diva offers some gorgeous holographic and chrome sets that are seriously stunning. Some of their shapes are also different from what imPRESS offers.
If I let them, my press-on manicures would stay on for two weeks, but I normally remove them after a week. There are a lot of factors that can impact how long your press-on manicure will last like:
I prep my natural nails really, really well. Each naked nail gets filed and lightly buffed before I even open a new press-on set, and I make sure to push back my cuticles as well. The last thing I do before putting my nails on is wipe each natural one with an alcohol wipe twice and shake them out a bit to make sure they're completely dry. Most press-on nail brands will provide an alcohol wipe with each set as well as a small emory board and cuticle stick.
When you put your nails on, make sure to firmly press each nail for 30–60 seconds while rocking your finger from edge to edge for full coverage.
It's important to avoid getting your press-on nails wet immediately after applying them because they need time to fully bond with your natural nails. Ideally, you should try to keep your hands dry for 2–3 hours after application. When I give myself a press-on manicure, I usually do my normal pre-bedtime routine first. Once I know that I won't be getting my hands wet anymore, I apply my press-on nails and then go to bed. The extended time with dry hands makes a huge difference on the longevity of my press-on manicure.
Yes! I've never had an issue bathing while wearing press-on nails. I've also gone swimming in chlorinated pools and the ocean while wearing them, and they didn't pop off after. But again, make sure you give your press-on nails ample time to bond to your natural nails before getting them wet, as I explained in my answer to the previous question.
Yes! Sometimes I like the design of a press-on nail set, but not the length or shape, so I'll reshape them with an emory board or even nail clippers.
Once I'm ready to remove my nails, I'll use a little cuticle oil around the edges to breakdown the adhesive and then gently lift the nails at the edges with a cuticle stick. Do not lift your nails off by the end, as this method could damage your natural nails. If your press-on nails are being extra sticky, apply another drop or two of cuticle oil. You want to be able to remove your press-on nails as gently as possible.
Static Nails also makes an excellent non-toxic, odorless polish remover that I like to use when I remove my nails. One drop per nail should do the trick. The solution has a slightly oily consistency to it, so it leaves your skin and nails feeling hydrated and conditioned after use.
I personally do not have an issue with my natural nails after wearing press-on nails. The only evidence left behind is usually a few bits of stubborn adhesive, but a quick buff will fix that.
If I'm not applying a new set of nails immediately after taking off an old one, I'll file and buff my natural nails and then apply a coat of Nail Envy - Healthy Maintenance. It's a standalone strengthening treatment from OPI that I really like. OPI's entire line of strengthening treatments is excellent, especially if you have problematic nails. I also make sure to oil my cuticles in between press-on sets to keep my nails as healthy as possible.
Some brands will advertise their sets as re-wearable, but I find that hard to believe honestly. The adhesive starts to break down and lose its stickiness once it's been exposed to oil or even air too long. Plus, I personally find the idea of reusing press-on nails to be unsanitary.
Yes! I was one of 10 winners for imPRESS 10th Mani-versary Nail Design Contest. The set of press-on nails I designed will be available for purchase sometime in late 2023.