There’s not always time to sit down for a manicure, but there’s pretty much always time for a set of press-on nails. “Press-ons are my all-time favorite nail hack when you’re in a rush or an emergency,” nail artist Stephanie Stone told HuffPost. “There are so many beautifully designed press-ons that will make you feel like you just walked out of the salon.”
We talked to leading nail artists to find out which brands the pros reach for in a hurry.
Which to choose
“I always try to find ones that aren’t too chunky, thick or square, so they look more natural and less likely to need additional shaping,” nail artist Mel Shengaris told HuffPost. “Also, it’s a good idea to select full kits that come with alcohol wipes, nail file, wooden stick and glue. That way, when you use them for a quick fix, you’ll have everything you need.”
“You want brands you can use multiple times and ones that allow you to customize the nails to fit your hands perfectly,” Kait Mosh told HuffPost. “The last thing you want is to have to buy five different products for one manicure.”
Achieving a perfect ‘10’
“I think the most important thing to keep in mind when delving into the world of press-ons is that unless you read the instructions carefully, you can end up damaging your nails or having to deal with nails popping off at random times,” nail artist Fariha Nizam told HuffPost. If you don’t follow the directions, she said, “press-ons can become more of a nuisance than a solution.”
You can use glue or sticker adhesives for your press-on manicure. “If you don’t want to risk damage to your nails, consider sticker adhesives as another option,” Britney Tokyo told HuffPost. “They won’t stay in place as well as glue, but many stay in place pretty well.”
“How you put them on in the first place has a lot to do with how well they last,” Shengaris said. “The maintenance starts in the prep work.” She advised starting with nails that are clean, dry and free of oils. “As you’re applying, make sure you press that nail down, squeeze it on and hold it in place as the glue dries.”
“Do the harder hand first and you should be good to go,” Stone said. “I’ve even thrown mine on riding in the passenger seat of a car.”
Once they’re dry and ready to show off, follow the nail artists’ mantra and treat your nails like jewels, not tools. “Avoid pools and hot tubs, have a friend open that can of beer and stay moisturized,” Mosh said. The more careful you are, the longer they’ll last.
“For people who actually live normal lives — doing dishes, traveling and washing your hands often ― they’ll last about a week,” Mosh said. Some experts recommend wearing gloves as much as you can, so that might extend your press-on manicure a little bit longer.
Here are the top brands mentioned by nail artists:
These press-ons were created by nail stylist Gracie J, the key nail stylist for the TNT show "Claws.” “Think of these like Gucci for press-ons,” Mosh said. “The price tag is higher, but so is the quality. And they’re fully customizable with all that’s provided in the kits.”
“This brand stays on like no other brand I’ve ever tried before,” Stone said. “They have beautiful shapes and fun colors and they’re the brand to go to if you want the nails to really last. Check out their TikTok videos of models banging their hands around on hard surfaces without breaking them.”
3. Signet Instant Manicure
“This brand has chic and simple designs,” Stone said. “The shape is very natural-looking, and no one would even be able to tell you’re wearing press-ons.”
4. Kiss imPress
This is the most highly recommended brand among the nail artists we spoke with. “They have a lot of new designs that mimic Insta nail trends,” Nizam said. Stone called them “a classic you can’t go wrong with.”
5. Static Pop-On Nails
“They have some of the chicest colors and designs, and they have such a good selection for longer lengths and different shapes,” Shengaris said. “They last really well, soak off easily and can be reused,” Mosh told HuffPost.
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