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Why Do My Press-on Nails Hurt?

Last Updated on October 19, 2022 by SulaBeauty Staff

Press-on nails are a fantastic alternative to manicures. You get to style your nails without spending hours in salons. And, of course, they’re cost-effective. And the best part is that you can change the length and patterns of the nails in no time—basically, a perfect go-to option suiting our fast-paced lives.

However, wearing press-ons may sometimes be accompanied by discomfort. Do you also wonder ‘why do my press-on nails hurt’?

You are just a blog post away from a hassle-free experience with the press-ons. Read to know more about this and how you may prevent the issue.

Why Do My Press-On Nails Hurt? A Comprehensive Guide

Press-on nails may be an economical and easy-to-use alternative to manicures. However, there may be multiple reasons why your press-on nails are causing discomfort to you. Let’s discuss some prevalent issues in detail:

If They Are Not Applied Correctly

  • Some users misapply their fake nails, worrying about the longevity of the falsies. However, at times it leads to pain or uneasiness in your nails. Hence, applying press on nails plays a crucial role in preventing such issues, and for the last long.
  • As the term suggests, press-on nails must be pressed onto your natural nails after applying glue. At the same time, you must ensure the pressure is neither in excess nor too little for the nails to stick appropriately.
  • If too much pressure is applied, your real nail becomes feeble. And adding another layer of glue and false nails would allow no time or space for the natural nail to breathe and become healthy enough to hold the fake nails. And this leads to pain.
  • On the contrary, if less than the required pressure is put on fake nails, they may not stay as long as they should. They may not cause harm, but longevity could be an issue in that case.

If the Nails Are Too Big or Small to Fit Your Nail Bed

  • The size of the press-ons is another crucial factor that needs to be considered before applying them.
  • If the press-ons are smaller than your natural nails, it may not cause pain. However, it would not be presentable if there is an event you need to attend.
  • But, if the fake nails are more significant than your original nail size, they would also overlap your skin. And the glue used on the nails would reach the skin surrounding the nail bed. This may cause infection and irritation to the skin. Also, the excess nail may even cut your skin.
  • It is always suggested to check the sizes of the nails very patiently before you rush to apply them. Any nails with the correct size would never cause such issues, as they merely cover the nail bed area.

If the Nails Are Not Filed Properly

  • Filing is essential while using press-on nails, providing a smooth and even base for the false nail to stick on. And the best practice is to file the nails and keep them short to avoid hampering the press-ons.
  • Also, filing nails in a back and forth direction leads to tenderness of nails. And applying adhesive and fake nails on top of it may cause pain or discomfort at the very least. So, to prevent this, ensure to file nails in a single direction. This will help your nails stay firm enough to apply fake nails without causing pain. Try it!

If You Have an Allergy to the Adhesive

  • Glue is one of the main elements required to put the Press-on nails. However, it consists of various harsh chemicals. They may weaken your nails and cause skin issues if used frequently.
  • And if you already have sensitive skin, it may cause irritation, itchiness, redness, pain, etc. In such scenarios, it is better to use press-on nails which have an adhesive lining on their back. Stylists recommend it for people with allergies or sensitive skin.
  • Instead of jumping to conclusions and claiming issues with your nails, review all the glue ingredients and try doing a patch test one day before application. This way, you’ll know it way before it’s too late. And you’ll save yourself from discomfort.

How to Stop Press-on Nails From Hurting?

Here is a guide to the procedure you must follow while applying Press-on nails to avoid hurting your nails and skin. Let’s begin:

Prep your nails

  • To begin with, soak your nail in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. This helps in softening your cuticles. Once done, push back the cuticles with the help of a cuticle pushing stick. Now, gently trim the excess cuticles with the help of a nail clipper.
  • Now file your nails short or as per your requirement and remove any color or excess oils from your nails using a nail polish remover.
  • With this, your nails are all set to be styled.

Choose your Press-on nails size.

  • The Press-on nails kit has an array of nail sizes to fit different nail beds. Now to avoid hurting your nails, avoid the option of large-sized artificial nails. They would eventually irritate and hurt your skin and nails.
  • Either go for the accurately similar size as your original nails or take a size below. It won’t have a huge difference and would fit perfectly without causing uneasiness. Go for either one that suits your comfort.

Apply Press on nails

  • Next, you need to apply the press-on nails to the nail beds. You may use the nail glue that comes with the kit, or some press-ons also have stick-on adhesives on their backsides. The latter can directly be applied to the nails without the hassles of glue.
  • If using the former ones, apply a drop of glue on your natural nail and one on the back of the Press-on nail. And now, place the Press-on nail right above the cuticle line, on the nail bed.
  • Once placed correctly, press the nail gently with your fingers for around 10-15 seconds. This would help it get placed firmly. Clean if any excess glue is left on the skin around the sides of the nail.
  • Now, repeat the same for all your fingers.

Cleaning up

  • Once all the nails are done and given time to set, wipe off any excess glue left on the surrounding skin of your nails and the backside. 
  • To give a finishing touch, you may also file the nails to get the shape of your choosing. And we’re done!!

Press-On Nail Tips For A Perfect Fit

For the nails to fit perfectly, you must keep in mind the following:

  1. Always file your natural nails and use a buff to smoothen their surface.
  1. It would help if you pushed the cuticles back to allow the fake nail to be appropriately placed.
  1. Select the fake nail sizes as the same as your natural nail or one size down.
  1. With these three simple yet significant details, you can get a perfect fit for your Press-on nails.

Common Problems With Press-On Nails

Apart from the issues mentioned above, there can be many other nail-related issues you may experience while using Press on nails. And knowledge can help you prevent them. So, let’s go through a few of them:

  • Incorrectly prepped or distressed cuticles can aggravate the issue by applying press-ons. Before applying fake nails, you must push the cuticles back so the false nail can be placed easily.

    And to do this, soak your hands in warm water mixed with oil and soap. This will help soften your cuticles. And then you can quickly push them back without hurting yourself.
  • It would help if you avoided trimming them to avoid cuts and bleeding, as glue application may further cause infection.
  • Applying press-on nails to naturally thin and feeble nails may lead to a painful experience. The nerves under such nails are left more exposed, and applying adhesives and falsies would only further weaken the nail and irritate the skin.

    It is instead suggested to use a nail strengthener. And once the nails gain back their regular thickness, you may use acrylic nails.
  • The artificial nails shrink on the first day post-application. This shrinking and tightening happens while using press-ons and may prove painful. However, it is not a significant concern. Once the nails adjust to the nail plate, the discomfort would vanish.
  • You may have an allergic reaction while using a new brand’s acrylic nails. The allergic reaction includes flaking, swelling, itching, irritation, etc. So, if you experience any of these symptoms, gently remove them and see a dermatologist if the side effects persist.
  • If your fake nail is thick, it will cause uneasiness as it puts pressure on the natural nail. So, it is recommended to go with a thin artificial nail. It gives a more natural look and is light on your nail plates.

    Long acrylic nails may cause severe pain if you hit them accidentally. So, it is suggested to file them as per requirement and convenience, which is also safe at the same time.
  • Press-on nails with a pointy tip may also hurt you if you are hit by accident. So, it is suggested to file them down to shapes like almond so that it does not get hooked on to different materials. And it is also safer to use.
  • Your Press on nails may also cause infection if the moisture gets trapped within the layer and fungus builds up. It may also happen if you didn’t sterilize the tools adequately.
  • It is recommended to keep your acrylics dry and clean. Also, use sterilized tools during the application procedure.
  • Tea tree oil can be used as a home remedy to treat such infections.
  • Acid-based primers used for the press-ons to bond and adhere better to the nails may irritate if used on weak nails or if used frequently.

    Hence, it is recommended to use non-acid-based primers. They serve the purpose without causing any harm.

Tips for Avoiding Pain When Using Press-on Nails?

To have a painless experience with fake nails:

  1. File and buff your nail plates.
  1. Use a non-acid primer.
  1. Check if you have expired glue. Also, run a patch test to verify if you have any allergies to the glue.
  1. Push back the cuticles after soaking your hands in warm water.
  1. Avoid using artificial nails on fragile nails.


Have you ever tried a different brand of press-on nails?

I have tried various brands, of which Kiss Nails and Static nails best suited me. The latter lies in a higher range but tends to stay longer for its high-tier quality. Otherwise, both the brands offer decent quality Press on nails.

If you are a first-time user, these are a few of the good quality brands you may give a shot at. And let us know if it worked for you.

Do painkillers help alleviate the pain from press-on nails?

In some cases, the pain may be temporary, as once the nails adjust to the nail plate, it gets better. This is the case with the majority.

However, if it persists for long, you must remove the nail gently and see a dermatologist. They’d be able to judge the case more profoundly and suggest corrective actions.

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