Model showing her press-on nails
Courtesy of Chillhouse


5 Tips To Make Press-On Nails Last

Expert advice for extending the lifespan of your press-on mani.

The press-ons renaissance is alive and well in 2022. Although the quick nail kits first regained popularity as a beauty staple during the locked down months, it looks like the at-home manicure trend isn’t going anywhere. Serotonin-inducing trips to the salon can be pricey (especially if you return for fills every few weeks), whereas the resurgence of press-on nails is as easy on the wallet as it is time-efficient. Plus, with the proper application and removal techniques, they’ll leave your natural nails damage-free and always ready for an easy change-up.

With the press-on nails trend on the rise, there are so many patterns and designs to choose from—you could swap them constantly to fit your mood, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to burn through a set too fast. Your cost-effective and cute manicure can really go the extra mile if you take the time to use the best tips and expert advice for making press-on nails last. From proper nail preparation to the optimal application techniques, we talked to three press-on connoisseurs about how to make at-home nail kits work for you. Ahead, five tricks to make reusable nails last just as long as your usual salon mani.

Make Press-On Nails Last Tip No. 1: Avoid Water

Avoiding water—both before and after application—can make a huge difference in the lifespan of your mani. When nails absorb water, they expand, which can cause the press-on to sit differently, making it less secure once nails dry out. After applying your set, “wait at least an hour before washing your hands or applying lotions or hydrating products,” explains VP of Content & Creative at Olive & June and press-on nail pro, Olivia Van Iderstine.

Make Press-On Nails Last Tip No. 2: Prep Your Nails

Nail glue adheres best to clean, dehydrated nails, so wipe them down with an alcohol pad (many kits already include this) to remove any debris or oil before starting your application. But don’t forget to prep your nail tips, as well. Celebrity nail artist Mei Kawajiri, who counts Gigi Hadid, Cardi B, and Dua Lipa as celebrity clientele, suggests also wiping the back of the press-on tip with acetone for a longer-lasting effect.

Make Press-On Nails Last Tip No. 3: Size Thoughtfully

“Press-on tips should not be wider than the nail bed,” says Kawajiri, it prevents strong adhesion to the nail. This can be difficult for those with shorter nail beds or with cuticles shaped slightly differently than the nail tips. Molly Romah, NYC Nail Artist and Lead Nail Technician at Chillhouse, recommends if you have a shorter nail bed, cut or file the press-on for a custom fit. When applying you want the press-on to fit snuggly, just underneath the cuticle.

Make Press-Ons Last Tip No. 4: Don’t Skimp On The Glue

Sometimes the most obvious tip is the most helpful. “The key to long-lasting press-on nails is really good prep and an even application of glue,” says Van Iderstine. For a stronger grip, apply a thin layer of glue over your entire nail, and over the press-on as well. Then, “gently apply pressure evenly over the press-on for a great seal and wait 30 seconds for the glue to set,” Van Iderstine adds.

Make Press-On Nails Last Tip No. 5: Start With Your Non-Dominant Hand

Practice makes perfect still holds true here. So, if you’re a beginner, Kawajiri suggests going against your dominant-handed instincts and applying nails using your non-dominant hand first. “Application will be easier with your less-dominant hand if you don’t have nails on, than with longer nails,” she explains. Or Consider leaving your thumbs for last for easier dexterity. Take your time and soon, you’ll be a press-on pro in no time.