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How to Apply Press-on Nails [Tips by Expert]

Press-on nails have become a safe choice among women from different professional and cultural backgrounds. Fashion enthusiasts prefer press-on nails over a salon-based manicure.

The best part of using static nails is that you don’t need to invest much time and money. Also, you get a wide array of colors, patterns, and even nail art designs at the convenience of your home.

You no more need to wait for appointments, which used to take hours just for your manicure to get done.

Once you get hands-on with these products, it is pretty convenient to switch up your nail styles in just a few minutes.

But how to apply press on nails like a professional? What can all alternatives be used for applying press-ons?

How to Apply Press-On Nails Like a Pro

Here is a step-by-step guide from the celebrity nail artist to help you with some tips on applying the press-ons effectively and making them last longer. Let’s read on further to know the details.

Step 1 – Pick the Right Press-On Nail Size

Press-on nails come in a wide array of shapes and sizes. It is essential first to select the nail shape you wish to wear. Almond, round, square, and long stiletto nails are some commonly used shapes.

Once you have decided on the shape of press-on nails you wish to use. It’s time to check the nail sizes.

The press-on nails kit includes a nail set with several sizes to be used for suitability.

So, empty the contents of the press-on nail kit, and place them over each nail to check which sizes suit you better. Try for all fingernails.

Keep aside a set of 20 nails that fit you well.

Step 2 – Prep Your Nails

Before we start applying and sticking our press-ons, we must ensure our natural nails are prepped well to make the nails last longer.

First of all, we must wash our hands with soap. It helps remove dirt from our hands and natural oils on our skin and nails.

If you’re wearing any nail polish, remove the same using acetone or non-acetone nail polish remover.

Now, push the cuticles back and trim any excess cuticles so that the press-on nails can be glued to the surface of our nail beds easily, without getting to the skin.

Once done, buff your nail beds and trim them short. It helps the press-on nails easily stick to your real nails without hassles.

Step 3 – Apply Press On Nails

After prepping your nails, apply a thin layer of base coat on your nails. It strengthens your nail bed and prevents damage from the adhesive and false nails.

It also helps create a stronger bond and allows the press on nails to stay longer.

Now, apply a small drop of glue to your press-on nail and another to your natural nail bed. Now, place the nail patiently over the bed and position it well.

Now, press it for 15-20 seconds, and then let go. Repeat the same on all fingernails and allow them to dry.

Step 4: Clean Up!

This could be a bit challenging out of the entire procedure. Once you have glued the nails, gently file and trim any excess press length on the nail, if required.

Also, clean and remove any traces of adhesive left on your cuticle skin or nails.

And we’re done!

How to Apply Press on Nails Without Glue

If you do not wish to use nail glue on nails or if you have run out of it, you can also use a base coat and school glue to bond your press-ons.

Let’s see how:

Wipe your nails carefully with acetone polish remover soaked cotton ball to eliminate dust and oils. Else, you may use a dehydrator spray as well. It serves the purpose well.

Now, we start applying the base coat on one nail at a time as we do not want the nail bed to dry.

Now, before the base coat dries out, we want to add a layer of school glue to the nail with the help of a small brush.

If you are in a rush, you may mix base coat and adhesive and apply them in a single coat on your nails.

Place the artificial nail in line with your cuticles and press it gently for 30-60 seconds. And then allow at least 5 minutes for the nails to dry.

How to Apply Press on Nails With Gel

Gel curing is the application of fake nails using a soft gel and an LED or UV light. This method is more secure as the gel has a firmer grip over your nails than glue.

Let’s find below how you can use a gel to apply press-ons:

Trim your nails short using a nail clipper, and file them using a nail filer.

Remove any excess cuticles and push them back, and do not forget to buff the nail beds to allow the fake nails to have a firm grip over your naturals. It is essential for the surface of your nails and the back of the fake nails to be etched nicely.

Buff the back of your falsies nicely using a nail file or coarse buffer. It helps enhance the gripping capability of the nails and increases the surface area on the nails. Also, the experience is said to be hassle-free with shorter nails.

So, try keeping the length short.

Apply the gel to your nail bed and the backside of your fake nail. Slowly, roll the nail down, starting from the cuticle line, and push it downwards until all the bubbles are removed, and remove any extra gel on your skin or nails.

Once the bubbles are removed, and the gel is cleaned, you must cure the nails under UV light. Maintain the pressure on your nails until these are correctly cured. It should take around 30 seconds to 1 minute to cure the nails.

How to Apply Press on Nails With Adhesive Tabs

If you do not wish to use any glue, you may follow the given steps to stick your fake nails using adhesive tabs without any hassle:

  • Prep your nails by trimming your nails short, pushing the cuticles back, and removing the excess. Also, file the tips and buff the nail beds and cleanse by rubbing alcohol prep pad or a cotton pad.
  • Select the shape of the fake nails you want to apply. And then, look for the right fit by placing falsies over each finger before you stick them.
  • Choose suitable-sized adhesive tabs and place them at the center of your nail using tweezers. Remove the top sheet from the adhesive tab to reveal the sticky side.
  • Now place the correct sized nail over the adhesive tab, and hold it for around 20 seconds.
  • Now, repeat for all your fingernails.

How You Remove Press-On Nails Is Just as Important as How You Apply Them

Directly peeling the falsies from your nails would harm your real nails. It happens because of the adhesive you have applied that if you try peeling it, a few layers of your own nails may come off along with it.

It may also cause your original nails to break.

So, to protect your nails, you must soak your fingernails in warm water, with soap added to it, for around 10 minutes.

It helps the adhesive to loosen a bit. And then you may try to peel the nails off. If the adhesive still feels firm, you might want to soak them for a little longer and then try again.


Are Press-on Nails Easy to Apply?

Press-on nails can be applied quickly and would not cause any harm if the instructions are followed during the application and removal process. And detailed procedure has been mentioned in the blog post for your reference.

What’s the Best Glue for Press-on Nails?

Nailene Ultra quick nail glue is said to be one of the best quality nail adhesives. Check the below-given link if you wish to buy it: Makartt Super Strong Nail Glue

How Long Does It Take to Apply Press on Nails?

It usually takes 45 mins to 1 hour. However, it may take longer if you are a first-time user. But if you are a regular user, it should not take more than an hour.

How Do You Harden Press on Nails?

To harden your press-on nails, you may want to use nail strengtheners or hardeners. These need to be applied like a top coat on your nails. And it thickens the natural nail plate, making it more substantial, and keeps it from breaking.


Press-on nails are a great alternative to nail salon-based manicures. Applying press-on nails is quite easy. However, to maintain your nails’ health, you must apply and remove them with extreme care. If used carefully, press-on nails last up to two weeks.

Press-ons may be applied using multiple adhesive options such as nail glue, adhesive tabs, fashion tapes, school glue, etc. All these products are significant and can be used based on your requirement.

However, press-on nail kits include all the required items, so you don’t need to purchase any tool or item separately.

You may paint them for re-use and flaunt them like you got a manicure done by a nail artist, like a dashing diva.

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