press on nails
Photography courtesy of Facile

Press-On Nails Are the Easiest Way to Change Up Your Manicure

Frosted French tips today, red stiletto nails tomorrow? Yes, please! We got advice from a pro on how to safely apply, maintain and remove press-ons for all your festive soirées.

When taking in the current beauty landscape, you’ll find French manicures, airbrushed designs, chunky nail charms and press-on nails are the manicures of the moment. With one glance at these nostalgia-inducing trends, we couldn’t help but wonder, is it the year 2000 or 2022?

If press-ons being the secret behind enviably glossy manicures on celebrities like J.Lo and Hailee Steinfeld’s fingertips doesn’t sway you, take TikTok’s #pressonnails hashtag with 4.9 billion views as evidence that this mani cheat is in its comeback era.

Since false nails gained prominence during the ’80s as an affordable dupe for glamorous salon manicures (see: classic crimson talons on stars like Diana Ross and Tina Turner), the trend trickled into the ’90s and eventually early aughts before being overtaken by artfully hand-painted acrylic styles. When considering the ease of press-on manicures today, it makes us wonder why this nail hack ever went out of style in the first place.


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Alexa Liberatore, founder of the Allure Readers’ Choice Award-winning Canadian nail care brand FACILE, believes the return of the press-ons was the result of a demand for salon manicure alternatives during the peak of pandemic lockdowns. Along with the convenience of these false nails also came staying power and approval from A-list celebs — especially during this hectic time of year. “Everyone is so busy during the holiday season that this alternative saves them time and money they would otherwise be spending in a salon!” says the Montreal-based nail expert.

And with a list of festive fêtes to attend, sometimes one nail design just won’t do. Some clothes require cherry red stiletto tips, and others a more minimal nude with subtle glitter accents. This is where press-on nails really shine. “They are versatile — depending on the wear time you want, you can use the nail tabs and wear them for a special event or use the glue and keep them on for up to two weeks at a time,” shares Liberatore, referring to the alternate ways of applying press-ons.


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Interested in trying a press-on manicure for yourself? Here’s expert advice on how to apply, maintain and remove press-on nails.

How to prep your nails for press-ons

According to Liberatore, to apply your holiday party press-ons, it’s best to have a cuticle pusher, nail file, nail buffer, alcohol pad, and glue or nail tabs in your nail kit. Begin by gently pushing your cuticles back, then buffing is up next. “You need to buff the entire surface of your natural nail bed to ‘rough it up’ and create a slight texture for the glue to best adhere to the natural nail,” she says. Once buffed, you can wipe the nails down with an alcohol pad or nail polish remover to remove any natural oils. And finally, apply the glue (or tabs, if you’re going for a more temporary look) all over your natural nail and press the false nail firmly in place while holding for 15 seconds.

How to maintain your press-on manicure

To maintain your new nails, Liberatore has three key tips you’ll need to keep in mind. First, remember that prep is the most important thing for a long-lasting manicure — so take this step seriously. Second, as tempting as it may be, skip using your nails as tools! “For example, don’t use the tip of your nail as a box cutter, or a soda can opener,” she insists. Lastly, we know self care is important but be careful not to soak your nails in water for extended periods of time as it will begin to loosen the nail adhesive. Although, this advice will come in handy for removal.

How to safely remove your press-on nails

When it’s time to swap your press-ons out to match your next outfit, Liberatore suggests soaking your nails in warm soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes for the safest removal.“You can also add any type of oil to the water to help loosen the nails,” she adds. Rinse and repeat these steps for your next set and you’re en route to becoming a press-on pro.

If you’re like us, you’ll find pleasure in switching up your manicure without the cost and long-term commitment of salon gel manis. And the design and colour options are endless. From frost-tipped almond nails to a metallic mani moment from celebrity manicurist Tom Bachik, tap through below for our top press-on nail picks for the holiday season. They’ll look festive in your cart, and even better on your fingertips.


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