alexa heinrich

press-on nail enthusiast

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.

People ask me the same questions about my nails so frequently that I had to make this page on my own website. Yes, for real.

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.

Model shot of Alexa showing off her manicured hands. Each finger sports a long almond shaped nail in a matte black finish. The thumb, index, and pinkie nails are tipped in golden yellow. The ringer finger nail has groovy purple lines. And the middle finger has a funky floral pattern in yellow, orange, and purple.

frequently asked questions

Please note that I am not affiliated with 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 and believe that affordable and convenient manicures should be accessible to everyone.

Why do you like wearing 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. 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?

Do you have a favorite brand of press-on nails?

Yes! I'm a big fan of imPRESS Beauty. 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.

How long do your press-on manicures last?

If I let them, my press-on manicures would stay on for two weeks, but I normally remove them after one. There are a lot of factors that can impact how long your press-on manicure will last like:

  • The state of your natural nails (like if you have extra oily nail beds).
  • How well you prep your natural nails before applying press-on nails.
  • The kind of tasks you use your hands for on a daily basis.
  • How soon after applying your nails you get your hands wet.
How do you get your press-on manicures to last longer?

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. I also apply a coat of Olive & June's Nail Strengthener to keep my nails extra healthy under the press-on ones. It soaks into your nails, so it doesn't interfere with the press-on adhesive.

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 emery 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 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.

Can you shower with press-on nails on?

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.

Can you shape press-on nails?

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 emery board or nail clippers.

How do you get press-on nails off?

Once you're ready to remove your nails, you can 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.

Can you wear press-on nail sets back to back?

You can, but I would recommend giving your natural nails a few days off between manicures. The max number of press-on sets I'll wear back to back is two.

Like your skin and hair, your nails can become dehydrated, so make sure to moisturize them between manicures. You should do this whether your manicure is a press-on set or just standard nail polish.

Why do my press-on nails hurt?

There could be a number of reasons, but the most common is that you probably have the wrong size nail on. Your natural nails could also be a little flatter than average, which makes some press-on nail sets more uncomfortable to wear.

If your press-on nails hurt, you should remove them and give your natural nails a break for a few days before trying to apply another set. If you experience discomfort every time you apply a press-on manicure, please consider wearing nail enamel instead. There are plenty of great options out there for a beautiful manicure, and beauty should never cause you pain!

Are press-on nails rough on your natural nails?

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 fresh coat of Olive & June’s Nail Strengthener. I also like OPI’s Nail Envy - Healthy Maintenance. OPI's entire line of strengthening treatments is excellent, especially if you have problematic nails.

I make sure to oil my cuticles in between press-on sets as well to keep my nails as healthy as possible.

Can you reuse press-on nails?

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.

Have you ever designed your own press-on nails?

Yes! I was one of 10 winners for imPRESS Beauty's 10th Mani-versary Nail Design Contest. The press-on nails I designed are available for purchase online for a limited time. They're the set I'm wearing in the photo at the top of this page.