Cover image for the press-on nails buyer's guide

The Best Press-On Nails: Finally Some That Work

After looking at falsies from over 20 different brands, we’ve found a few press-on nail sets that will give you salon-quality nails in half the time and at a fraction of the cost. KISS's imPRESS Line is perfect for girls who don’t want to spend timing painting or gluing – they come beautifully painted in nearly any color you can think of, and they also come backed with adhesive, ready to peel, press, and go. On the other hand, if you’d rather do all your own painting and design work, the Press-On Nails from ECBasket are the best press-on nails for you. You may have to apply the glue yourself, but they provide the perfect base for endless customization. Article Summary

Most women want beautiful hands and nails, but it can be such a commitment to maintain great-looking nails all the time. Not only does it cost a small fortune to get manicures regularly, but going back and forth to the salon every other week can take a lot of time as well. This is why press-on nails are such a life saver. They’re cost-friendly, come in just about any shape or look you want, and can be applied in less than 10 minutes for an instant professional-looking manicure.

The problem with buying press-on nails is that a huge majority of them are terrible quality. Either the nails themselves break easily, or the adhesive doesn’t last and they fall off quickly. Then there’s the issue of the nails just plain looking bad, and nobody has time for that. Most of these things come straight out of factories in China, so finding the best press-on nails can take quite a bit of trial and error before you come across a set that actually looks and works like they should.

Finding the best press-on nails for you will also depend on what exactly you’re looking for. If you’re a busy woman who wants something ready-to-wear straight out of the box, then you have to find a set that comes in the exact color and design you want. On the other hand, if you’ve got a little more time to spare and you like to customize the look yourself, then you’ll want a set that comes in a neutral color so you can paint over the nails or add a little bling to them.

To point our fellow ladies in the right direction, we decided to do a little digging (okay, a LOT of digging) to find different sets of press-on’s that actually look good, feel good, and won’t come off or break due to low-quality materials. We spent about a week on the job and looked at over 20 different brands and over 50 packages in total. When all was said and done, we had the products below shortlisted based on their premium quality, value, and also their great ratings from other women who currently use them.

Product image of the imPRESS nail set
Product image of the ECBasket nail set
Product image of the Kiss Products nail set
KISS imPRESS
ECBasket
KISS Nails
Rating

4.6/5

4.7/5

4.6/5
Style
Available in any shape/size
Available in any shape/size
Available in any shape/size
Design
Nails come pre-painted in nearly any color you want
Nails come neutrally colored so you can customize how you want
Choice between pre-painted and neutral for your own customization
Nails Included
30
500
Pre-painted: 28
Neutral: 100
Glue Style
Nails are backed with special adhesive so no additional glue is required
Must use nail glue to apply
Must use nail glue to apply
Lifespan
10-14 days
10-14 days
10-14 days

The quickest and easiest press-on nails

For the busy bees who just want to press and go, or for the girls who want to spend as little time as possible doing their nails, the imPRESS Press-On Nails by KISS are the way to go. These are by far the easiest to use, coming pre-painted in any color you want and already backed with adhesive so you don’t have to deal with any messy glue.

The imPRESS line (managed by parent company KISS Products which we’ll talk about later on) comes in a variety of shapes, so you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing your style. If you feel like keeping it simple, go with a standard shorter-length set. They look nice, natural, and most of all, practical. On the other hand, if you feel like stepping your nail game up a notch, there are also longer claws and talon sets ready to be pressed on and rocked.

One of the biggest benefits of going with these press-on’s over others is that they come backed with adhesive right out of the box. If you are new to using press-on nails, glue can be a little tricky to apply properly, not to mention messy and even damaging if you don’t do it right. The imPRESS adhesive is mess-free and strong, using what they call a ‘Superhold’ technology to help the material adhere to your real nails nicely. The way it works is like this: the bottom layer of the adhesive binds to your real nails, and the top layer binds to the fake nail. Now, whether or not ‘Superhold’ is just a fancy name is still up in the air, but these nails do seem to hold well and last a pretty long time. You can expect them to last about 10-14 days before needing to be replaced.

Another reason these fakes are so popular is because they come pre-painted, yet again taking another time-consuming step out of the process of nail management. For most of us, painting our nails is fun, and we don’t mind it a single bit. But for those who’d rather not spend the time doing so, this is a godsend. For once, the colors actually look nice too, very similar to gels not like some cheap fakes you’d get from a store in the mall. You have a ton of colors to choose from, so you can stock up on your favorite color, or get several so you can switch up your style every couple weeks when they need to be replaced. Each set also comes with a few additional accents too (for those who feel like adding a little bling to that ring finger).

So you can see how easy these really are, here’s a quick rundown of how to apply them. Once you have found the correct size nail for each finger, lay them out in finger order. Then, wash your hands with soap and water, and be sure to dry them thoroughly. Next, use the prep pads that come with the nail set to remove any oils from your skin. Starting with the pinky, peel off the cover over the adhesive on the back of the nail, press it firmly down in the middle of your real nail, and then smooth down the sides. Continue on, finishing with the thumb nail. Voila! Just like that, you look like you just spent an hour at the salon. When it’s time, removing them is just as easy. Just apply polish remover around the edges of the nails, and after a minute or two, gently pull them off. They should lift relatively easily.

Overall, KISS’s imPRESS Nails are the best press-on nails if you’re one of those girls who just wants to push and go. They require barely any effort to use, and for their simplicity, they look pretty dang good. Check out their entire selection of styles, shapes, and colors here.

The best press-on nails for endless customization

For the girls who want easy press-on’s that allow for a world of painting and other design customization, it doesn’t get any better than ECBasket’s Press-On Nail Set. For under $20, each set comes with 500 total pieces and 10 different nail sizes to choose from, along with your choice of style (round, oval, square, coffin, stiletto, etc.) so you can find your perfect press-on.

If you’ve ever bought press-on nail sets before, or any type of nail products for that matter, you know that typically cheaper bulk packages like these are terrible quality and get thrown out after just one use. Judging by how many different products we looked at when researching this guide, plus our own experience with these things, we would agree 99%. However, ECBasket’s nail set is that 1% that is actually worth the money.

The nails that come with this set are full-coverage, strong, and as close to salon quality as you can get from a press-on style. They’re so well made you can literally file and clip them as if they were your own natural-grown fingernails. They have a nice curvature that makes them easily form to your natural nail, and once stuck on, they should last for about two weeks (although this is a little give and take, some people report slightly shorter time spans, whereas others say they’ve gotten three weeks out of these with just a little layer of acrylic coverage).

With that said, the length of time they last will also depend on which brand and type of glue you use to hold them to your real fingernails. Unlike the imPRESS nails we talked about above, the ECBasket nails do not come backed with adhesive – instead, you must use a nail glue to hold them on (this is how most press-on nails work). Using glue can be a little tricky and messy if this is your first time using press-on’s, but once you get the hang of it with some practice, you’ll be able to move much quicker. While this adds a bit of time to the application process as opposed to the adhesive-backed imPRESS falsies, it’s still much quicker than the salon, and it’s worth it if you want the ability to majorly customize the look.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about what you can do to customize these. Because of how these nails are prepped (smooth, good material, etc.), they can take just about any type of paint, polish, or accent. Want to keep things simple and just paint a single solid color? Go for it. Want to step it up and paint designs, add some accent bling, and maybe a little glitter? It’s just as easy as if you were doing your real fingernails. If you head to Amazon and check out the “customer images” section, you can see all the different ways people have customized their ECBasket press-on’s.

With 500 pieces and nearly a dozen shapes and sizes to use, the possibilities are endless with the ECBasket Press-On Nail Kit. Keep it short and practical, or go long and fancy. Paint a single simple red, or show off your manicurist skills with a multi-color pattern and some shiny rhinestones. All-in-all, these are the best press-on nails if being able to customize your style is a top priority. Check out the different sizes and styles here.

An all-around good brand you can trust

In the intro to this guide, we mentioned that a lot of nail products (and beauty products in general, for that matter) come straight out of China, making it hard to determine whether or not a brand is offering quality stuff. One brand that has managed to develop a solid reputation is Kiss. For those who’ve never heard of them, Kiss Products is value-oriented beauty company whose mission is to “bring the salon home” – offering a variety of low-cost salon-quality products designed for home use. They’ve seen great success in a number of categories, with their most popular being fake eyelashes and fake nails.

KISS is the brand behind our top pick, the imPRESS line, but their line of traditional press-ons are very similar to the ECBasket ones discussed above. With that said, they don’t really need a full-length explanation. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, they’re awesome quality, and they’re applied using the traditional nail glue method. The area where KISS excels, though, is in the designs they offer. Just like ECBasket, KISS press-on’s come in plain base colors like transparent of white, but you also have an assortment of pre-painted options too. You can go with plain single colors, fancy multi-color designs, sparkled glitter-bomb-looking accents, or even standard French tips.

In a way, the traditional press-on’s from KISS are sort of like a middle ground between imPRESS and ECBasket. However, this is also why they’re third on our list instead of one of the top two. If you want to go pre-painted, the imPRESS nails are a better option because they also come backed with adhesive, eliminating the need to deal with the time and mess of glue. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a press-on that can be highly customized, the ECBasket nails are a better option; not because they’re any easier to customize or any better in quality, but because you get way more nails for the money.

With that said, if there was something you didn’t quite like about either of the two picks above, KISS Products’ press-on’s are still a great choice. There’s a reason they’ve built such a big reputation within the beauty industry – their stuff is nice, and it works!

Things to consider before buying

From shapes and styles to colors and designs, there are countless ways to do your nails. This is true whether you’re getting them done at the salon or doing them at home, which means you’ve got a lot to think about before you starting gluing and pressing. Below are a couple of things to consider before buying a set of press-on’s.

What’s your lifestyle like?

As any woman knows, what you do on a day-to-day basis plays a huge determining factor in how you do your nails. Busy moms, athletic woman, and those who need to use their hands for more practical purposes like typing or writing will probably be much happier with a shorter set of ovals, as opposed to a long set of stilettos that are bound to be nothing but an annoyance. On the other hand, if practicality isn’t at the top of your priority list, then a longer nail (or something more showy) might catch your fancy. Figuring out the level of practicality you’ll need will help you choose the best press-on nails for your personal lifestyle.

Is time or design more important to you?

While most of us don’t mind spending an afternoon doing our nails with the girls, there are also a lot of women who’d rather just get it done as quickly as possible. For the girls who want to be able to customize their nail designs endlessly, make sure you go with a press-on that’s based for painting and designing, such as the ECBasket nails mentioned in our guide. This might require a little more time to do them, but you’ll be able to make them look any way you want. For the girls who don’t want to spend more than 10 minutes on their manicure, your ideal press-on’s would be something like the imPRESS models which come pre-painted and already backed with adhesive. This way, you don’t have to spend time painting OR gluing – you literally just press and go.

Have you used press-on nails before?

If you’ve never used press-on’s before, they can be a little tricky to apply. Most sets require you to use a special nail glue to adhere them to your real fingernail, which can get a little messy and hard to set. Over time, this gets a lot easier, and before you know it you’ll be setting nails like a professional manicurist. However, it may be worth it to start with a set that comes already backed with adhesive. This way, you can practice without the typical gooey mess.

Are you a nail biter?

This might sound like a silly question to ask, but in case you didn’t know, fakes can be a great way to break the habit if you tend to bite your nails frequently. Covering your real nails with falsies will take away the satisfaction of biting, thus making it unlikely that you will continue the habit. So with that said, don’t worry if you tend to bite sometimes, press-on nails will help you kick that in no time!

Frequently asked questions

Although we’ve provided most of these answers at some point throughout the guide, we still see a few questions commonly recurring among visitors and shoppers. Therefore, we’ve created this section to easily reference the answers of some frequently asked questions.

How long does it take?
Applying press-on nails usually takes around 30-45 minutes when you’re first starting out. Once you’ve practiced a few times and gotten the hang of the process, most people usually get the application time down in the 20 minute range.

How long do they last?
Press-on nails all have a different lifespan depending on which brand you go with, but most last for a week or two on average. Here are some tips on making them last as long as possible.

What shapes and sizes do they come in?
Press-on nails come in nearly any shape, size, and style you can imagine. For example, each of the brands in our guide has a different set based on style (round, oval, square, stiletto, etc.) as well as multiple nail sizes included with each individual kit so that you can find the perfect size to fit for your personal fingernails.

Can I paint them?
Some press-on’s can be painted, whereas others can’t. In most cases, if the nail comes pre-painted with a particular design on it, it cannot be painted again. On the other hand, if the nail is plain or transparent, it should easily allow painting and other customization.

Can I file or clip them?
This will depend on the brand you go with. Some other designed for trimming, others are not.

Can I shower with them?
Yes, you should have no problem showering with press-on nails. The brands that make these products know very well that people are going to get wet at some point or another!

Can I wear them all the time?
Constantly using glue on your nails can do some damage over time, so it’s recommended that you give your real nails a chance to breath for a few days in between each set of press-on’s. In other words, don’t wear fakes 24/7 for months at a time.

Other things you’ll need to get started

Unfortunately, not all press-on nail sets come with everything you actually need to apply them. Most notably, the extra thing you’ll need is nail glue. This is what will actually hold the fake nail to your real nail, so make sure whichever glue you use is good quality. If you’re buying online, most brands will have a glue that they recommend for usage with their nails. We’d recommend buying several bottles, that way you can keep one at home and one in your purse in case a nail ever starts to lift while you’re out. This doesn’t happen too often, but better to be safe than sorry.

In addition, a few other items will come in handy as well. A good manicure kit is nice to have so that you can easily prep your fingernails or adjust the fakes once you press them on. The specific tools would be scissors, a file, buffer, cuticle trimmer, and a tool to push down your cuticle beds. If you are going to paint or customize the design of the fakes, you’ll also want to have nail polish, nail polish remover, cotton balls, and Q-tips on hand. You’ll probably already have most of these extras around the house, but we figured we’d mention them just in case you don’t.

How to apply press-on nails

Being that press-on nails can be a little tricky to apply, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide with our tips and best practices to help you nail the process (pun intended).

Prepping your real nails

First, make sure you take the time to manicure your real nails, trimming them down and filing them. Leave at least a little bit of the white part intact to secure the press-on’s firmly and to make cleaning underneath them easier. Also, be sure to push back your cuticle beds and trim them, just don’t cut them too close. If you experience any bleeding from the cuticles, don’t use your press-on’s until the cuticle is completely healed.

Next, it’s usually good to buff the top of your nails so that the glue will adhere better when you’re pressing the fake nail down. Make sure they are totally dry, and then apply a base coat of polish. This can help to protect your real fingernails from being damaged, as well as help in the removal process down the road.

Prepping your press-on’s

Take out the right-sized press on nails for each finger. Trim them down and file them so that each nail is customized to fit your natural nail beds just right. You may have a more rounded nail bed than the press on nail allows for. If the press ons are too square on the bottom, file them a bit to round them at the corners, so they fit more naturally on your fingers. It’s a good idea to select a size that is just a tiny bit smaller than your cuticle, so it will look more natural.

Make sure your press on nails are laid out in exactly the correct finger order before moving on to the gluing stage. You want to be sure you have the right nail for the right finger before you glue them on!

Gluing the nails down

Before you get started, we recommend keeping a bottle of your favorite nail polish remover on hand, and a few cotton swabs. That way, if you make any mistakes with the glue, you can immediately rectify it before the glue starts to dry.

It’s also a good idea to give a little lift to your cuticle beds before starting, so that you can tuck the press-on’s into your own nail beds for a smooth, natural-looking transition. This is somewhat uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it in time. If this is too uncomfortable, you can always skip this step, it’s not 100% necessary.

A good trick for gluing fake nails in place, or managing your nails in general for that matter, is to attend to your dominant hand first. In other words, if you’re right handed, start on the right, and if you’re a lefty, start with the left. As the glue or nail polish gets applied, things can get a little tricky towards the end. It’s easier to wrap up the beauty regimen with your dominant hand than the other way around.

Okay, onto the actual gluing! Place a dab of the glue on your nail and a dab on the press on, wait a few seconds for the air to make the glue a little bit tacky, then firmly press the fake nail in place. Start by pressing down the middle of the nail, and then smooth down each side. Hold a light pressure on the nail for a few seconds so that the fake can stick properly. If any glue comes out the sides, wipe this up so that it doesn’t dry (if it dries, it can be a headache to remove). Once you’re sure the nail is set, move on to the next one.

Removing the nails

Press-on nails all have a different lifespan depending on which brand you go with, but most last for a week or two on average. You’ll know when their time is up because the nails usually start to lift. However, even if yours don’t (some people manage to get over three weeks out of their press-on’s), it’s still good practice to replace them after at least three weeks.

To remove the nails, pour nail polish remover into a bowl and soak your hands for a few minutes. Test one of the press-on’s to see if they are ready to come off by gently peeling it back. If it peels back easily, then remove the rest of the nails. If it doesn’t come easily, give them another minute or so. The removal process should not be uncomfortable.

After removal, wash your hands and nails thoroughly, and moisturize them with your favorite hand lotion. Also, remember to give your real fingernails a chance to breathe before applying your next set of press-on’s. We’d recommend waiting at least two to three days before you glue on your next set.

Wrapping it up

Press-on nails are an easy way to get a professional-looking manicure without the time and cost associated with the salon. Whether you want small ovals for your busy schedule, or long stilettos for an upcoming night out, you’ve got tons of options both in shape and style. If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest press-on’s, we think imPRESS nails are your best bet. On the other hand, if you want to go crazy with polish, paint, and design, either the ECBasket or the Kiss Products nails will provide the perfect base for your creative flow to run wild.

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