obsessive tester

The 9 Best Press-On Nails for Faking a Fresh Set

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Retailers

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We’ve all been there. It may be a big weekend event or it may be any old Tuesday and you need a fresh set expeditiously. Faking a salon-worthy manicure can be hard, but brands are making it increasingly easy to fool even yourself with convincing artificial nails. Whether you need something fast for a night out or durable enough to withstand a vacation, ahead are the best press-on nails to shop now.


What should you look for when shopping for press-on nails?

There are three major things to keep in mind when shopping for press-ons. They are, in no particular order: Shape, length, and adhesion type. You’ll find round, oval, almond, square, squoval (square and oval), coffin, and pointed claw shapes. For lengths, most brands offer medium as the generic size, but plenty have short and long lengths at your disposal. Adhesion type may be the most important of the three; you can choose from easy-peasy stick-on nails or glue-on nails. The former is the fastest and the latter lasts longer, but there’s a learning curve and you’ll need patience to apply.

Of course, there’s the design, too. You’ll have no trouble finding solid or fake French manicure nails, but brands tend to have more creative seasonal designs that you’ll want to jump on before they sell out.

What’s the best way to apply press-on nails?

The No. 1 tip from both Braelinn Frank, founder and CEO of Rave Nailz, and Ann McFerran, co-founder and CEO of Glamnetic? Follow. The. Directions. It’s your best bet to avert common at-home press-on nail woes. Some other tips:

Clean. Gina Edwards, KISS brand ambassador, says to ensure your nails are free from oil and to cleanse them with alcohol spray or an oil-free nail-polish remover.

Buff. McFerran says to buff with a nail file to create an even surface for the press-ons to stick to. Frank doubles down on this crucial step: “This gives the glue something to hold onto. Otherwise, it’s like expecting to walk normally on a slick ice-skating rink!” She adds that it’s important to buff one nail at a time and leave the dust — unless you want to revert to that slick surface.

Glue. Your nail and the press-on! McFerran says after applying the glue to both surfaces, press down firmly and hold for as long as directed.

How do you ensure your press-on nails will stay on?

“Fit is very important,” says Frank. “If there is any spot where the press-on overlaps onto your skin, it will get air underneath and pop right off.” She always recommends laying out your sizes before starting to apply: “Hold each nail up and make sure there are no areas where the press-on overlaps onto your skin.” Frank suggests bringing any edges down with a nail file for a snug seal.

The Best Press-On Nail Kit

Most press-ons come in kits with about 20 nail-size options — but Olive & June’s doubles that at 42. The shapes and sizes truly run the gamut, from extra-short squoval to long almond, and each kit comes with a buffing file, glue, cuticle pusher, and prep pad. We haven’t even gotten to the cute designs or the fact that you should be able to pick these up at your local Target (access is crucial when you’re in desperate need of nails).

Adhesion type: Glue | Nail sizes: 42 nails, 21 sizes 

The Best Press-On Designs

Glamnetic makes some of the most popular press-ons out there, and it’s not hard to see why. The designs are on trend and feel like you’d actually get them done at a salon. The kit comes with everything you could need to apply a picture-perfect mani at home, and customers say the nails do not budge. While you can find best sellers at Amazon and Sephora, if you shop directly at Glamnetic, you can score rare beauties, like these Hailey Bieber–inspired glazed doughnut nails and these wonky olive nails that McFerran personally loves.

Adhesion type: Glue | Nail sizes: 24 nails, 12 sizes

The Fastest Press-On Nails

What we mean by that is non-glue. These natural-looking nails come in solid colors and have a gel-polish appearance, just without the hassle. Best for a need-now manicure for a same-day event, these are self-adherent nails. All you need to do is find your best sizes, remove the backing, and press them. Et voilà!

Adhesion type: Sticker | Nail sizes: 30 nails, 12 sizes

The Most Durable Press-On Nails

Over two weeks of wear with reapplication up to six subsequent times? It almost sounds too good to be true for sub-$20 press-ons (after all, in-salon extensions often hover around $100 per manicure), but Static Nails are the real deal. These “pop-on” manicures are glued on and durable enough to be worn, then reshaped or repainted over and over again.

Adhesion type: Glue | Nail sizes: 24 nails, 12 sizes

The Longest-Lasting Sticker Press-Ons

This is another self-adhering set of nails that you can trust to stay on. Dashing Diva makes fake nails in plenty of sizes and shapes — some, like coffin, that you don’t often see in non-glue nails. Best of all, they can stay on for up to one week without a drop of adhesive; just peel on and stick.

Adhesion type: Sticker | Nail sizes: 30 nails, 12 sizes

The Top Seller

Chillhouse, the New York City–founded salon and brand, makes extremely popular press-on nails that have earned gold stars across the board. At Target, for instance, these have a near-perfect 4.7-out-of-5-star rating — not nothing in the realm of artificial nails. The designs look like you got them done from someone with talent (read: a professional manicurist) — and probably not you, respectfully.

Adhesion type: Glue | Nail sizes: 24 nails, 12 sizes

The Best Press-Ons to Gift

There’s bound to be someone in the group chat who gets their nails done every two weeks like clockwork. Whether she’s a DIY manicurist or has the shakiest of hands, this is a set that any and all nail lovers can get behind. Recommended by Edwards, this is ImPress’s birthstone collection and features gemstones aligned to each month. Hi, no-fail gift!

Adhesion type: Glue | Nail sizes: 30 nails, 12 Sizes

The Most Versatile Press-Ons

Of all the Rave Nailz she’s created, Frank’s favorite are the Pierced Up Nailz for their versatility: “These go with any outfit and can be worn with or without the pierced accent nails,” she explains. Most press-on nails have a top-coat sheen to them, but these are a rare matte black that come in a stiletto shape for a minimalist-meets-edgy look.

Adhesion type: Glue | Nail sizes: 24 nails, 12 sizes

The Most Fun Nails Designs

Smiley faces, flames, checkerboard, and rainbows; you can get them all (possibly even in one set) with PaintLab. Odds are, if you’ve seen the trend on social, PaintLab has it. Each kit comes with a nail file buffer, cuticle stick, and nail glue that adheres each tip in five seconds.

Adhesion type: Glue | Nail sizes: 24 nails, 12 sizes


The 9 Best Press-On Nails for Faking a Fresh Set