How to Make Press-On Nails Look Like the Real Thing

September 12, 2022
Marisa Petrarca
By: Marisa Petrarca | by L'Oréal
Person applying light pink press-on nails in front of a jewelry stand

It’s not always easy to make press-on nails look good — like professional-mani good — but it’s definitely not impossible. To help us quite literally nail the look, we reached out to Gina Edwards, celebrity manicurist and lead manicurist for Kiss Nails. “A successful press-on application requires a few meticulous steps for the perfect manicured look,” Edwards says. Read on for her step-by-step guide.

How to Apply Press-On Nails Like a Pro

  • STEP 1:

    Prep Your Press-On Nails

    If needed, file and shape the press-ons before you apply them to your nails. If you wait until after you’ve already applied them, the nails can move and won’t adhere as well. Tweaking their shape can also help you get a more precise fit because all of our nails and nail beds are different.

  • STEP 2:

    Prep Your Natural Nails

    Next, wash and cleanse your nails. (If you need a new hand soap, we love the Kiehl’s Liquid Hand Soap in Grapefruit.) Some press-on nail kits come with an alcohol wipe to use pre-application to help the press-ons adhere better. Also, natural oils from skin and nails can cause the fake nails to lift up and come off sooner than you want them to, so it’s important to sweep them away before applying your fake set.

Kiss Nails Gel Nail Fantasy
  • STEP 3:

    Add the Glue

    If you are using nail glue, like the one that comes in the Kiss Nails Gel Nail Fantasy set, apply a dab at the base of your nail and one at the tip. The dabs will fuse together to create a seal with no air pockets, ensuring better longevity of your press-ons.

  • STEP 4:

    Apply the Nails

    Apply the press-ons at a 45-degree angle, aligning at the cuticle and pressing down toward the tip of the nail. It’s easiest to start with your pinky finger, leaving your thumb for last. As a rule, steer clear of doing dishes or heavy cleaning for 24 hours because it can take time for the product to settle and mold to your natural nail.

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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