Everybody loves a comeback, which is why Y2K beauty essentials like claw clips, and the best press-on nails are officially in their renaissance period, especially the latter. The early-2000s staple has made a triumphant return to the beauty space, and this time around, there are tons more (and way better) options to choose from.
This new generation of press-on nails give an effect nearly identical to expensive gel manicures at the salon. They also come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. Plus, the glue quality has gotten better, too, which means today’s fake nails last much longer than the press-ons of yesteryear.
Keep in mind, though: While they’re super convenient, press-ons are not necessarily damage-free. During removal, you can risk peeling off layers of your natural nail if you’re too rough. When those patches, called keratin granulations, come off, they can leave you with an “uneven, discolored, and peeling nail,” says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dana Stern, MD.
However, there are preventative steps you can take to keep your nails intact. In order to minimize damage, Dr. Stern suggests applying a coat of clear nail polish before application. “Polish can absolutely be protective and it is generally the removal process that leads to the dehydration and potential damage,” she says. When it’s time to remove your press-ons, she recommends skipping acetone-based nail polish removers — which can dehydrate and weaken your nails — and using warm, soapy water or cuticle oil to weaken the adhesive instead.
Now that you’ve got a handle on how to safely use press-on nails, let’s get to shopping. Whether you want to go short and neutral or long and bold with a vibrant set, we’ve got you covered with the latest and greatest in press-on nails.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Static Nails Reusable Pop-On Manicure in Curved French Round, $22
- Funkiest Designs: Rave Nailz Press-On Nail Set, $25
- Best Kit: Olive & June The Instant Mani Press-On System, $10
- Feelin’ Fancy: The Nailest Press-On Nail Set, $15
- Salon-Level Quality: Paintlab Press-On Nails Kit, $10
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