How To Use Press-On Nails For The Easiest Mani Ever

Go from zero to salon-grade manicure in a matter of minutes.

How to use press-on nails for the easiest manicure ever.
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There’s nothing like a fresh manicure to give you an extra boost of glam. But, if you’re not comfortable going into a salon while the pandemic is still ever-present, press-on nails just may be the next best thing. Before you stress about how to use press-on nails, don’t worry — it’s actually super simple.

Something surprising about these stick-on manis? Even with showering and lots of hand washing, they can last up to two weeks, says Jooyeon Song, co-founder of 3D press-on nail brand ManiMe. But in order to yield the longest (and best) results, you’ll need to follow along with a few press-on nail golden rules. David Miró Llopis, co-founder of ManiMe, says the whole nail application process can take as little as 10 minutes if you adhere to just five easy steps: prep, peel, apply, file, and seal. Sounds easy, right?

If you’re not one to even paint your own nails at home, press-on nails are definitely worth a whirl. There are a number of brands to choose from, so you can practically get any color, shape, and design you can imagine (yes, intricate nail art included). The best part? Some brands even design them to be reused — making it sustainable and easier than ever to get what looks like a salon-grade mani at home. To nail your technique, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to use press-on nails.


Check Your Size

First things first — you need to pay attention to what press-on nail size you’re purchasing. While some brands adhere to the one-size-fits-all rule, Miró Llopis says you can get custom stickers made out of gel polish (like with ManiMe). “People’s nails are as unique as they are, so they need a product custom-fit for them,” he says. Whatever you’re working with, make sure to find a press-on that fits snug onto your nail bed for a seamless look that stays put.


Prep Your Nails

The first step in the application process is the same one you’ll experience in a salon: prepping. Song suggests using a cuticle remover. “Prep the nail bed and, if necessary, gently trim the dead skin around the base and edges of the nail to create a clean, smooth surface for application,” she tells Bustle.

Just beware of using too many products in this step. One of the most important rules is to avoid using lotion or oil, as they can damage the adhesive. “Oil is the enemy here and can disrupt the longevity of the gels,” David Miró Llopis says.


Apply The Press-Ons

Song suggests using a base coat to strengthen your nail bed before applying a press-on. Most brands don’t require any nail glue or resin, since their adhesive stick-ons usually do the trick. So, once the base coat dries, all you need to do is peel the plastic off the press-on nail and pop it on. Miró Llopis recommends applying the stick-ons starting at the base of the cuticle, “aligning the gel slightly above your cuticle and then pressing on the rest of the gel in an upwards motion to ensure a smooth, even application.”

If you’re looking to add even more longevity to your mani, Gina Chang, senior manager of marketing communications at nail brand Dashing Diva, says avoiding water for at least two hours after you apply will allow the adhesive to stick onto your nails most effectively.


File Them Down

When your press-on nails are nice and snug on your own nails, Miró Llopis says to trim any excess length with a nail clipper, then use a file to shape as you like. “If your nails are longer, we suggest skipping the trimming and going right to filing in a downwards motion for best application,” he says.


Seal The Press-On Nails

Even though you’re not using traditional nail polish, it’s still helpful to apply a top coat if you’re using stick-ons like those from ManiMe or ColorStreet. Song says this extra step can ensure your press-on nails are completely sealed in for a longer wear time.

If you’re using harder press-on nails that aren’t gel stick-ons, though, Chang says a top coat isn’t necessary.


Remove Them When You’re Done

The removal process is actually more simple than you may think. According to Song, all you have to do is gently pull the press-ons off — it’s safe and less damaging than removing gel or acrylics, she says. If you’re having trouble peeling it off, soaking in nail polish remover can help loosen them up.