I swear by drug store press-on nails. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I got a manicure at a salon. Despite this, I always get compliments on my nails and have girls asking where I get them done. A press-on manicure looks just as good (better even, in my opinion) as a set of acrylics done in a salon — and for a fraction of the price! Especially in college, money like that matters. I’m not here to gatekeep, so if your biweekly nail appointment is breaking the bank, I’ve got you covered. Here is my comprehensive crash course for doing your nails at home:
Which Nails to buy
Okay, full transparency to start, the brand of nails you buy doesn’t make as big a difference as companies want you to believe. I’ve used $4 nails and $14 nails; I promise it won’t make that much of a difference. But what you should keep in mind is that the longer the nail length you choose, the more likely it is to fall off. So consider your everyday activities when picking your press-ons. I’ve found that Kiss nails come in lots of lengths and colors, and can be found at any Target or CVS. Amazon also has some really fun and trendy designs that I’ve been loving recently!
Lay Them All Out Beforehand — Take Your Time!
The most important thing in ensuring that your press-ons look natural and professional is to pick the right nail for the right finger. This can be tricky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. You want the nail to sit comfortably in the natural shape of your nail bed, just touching the edges of your fingers. When in doubt, go smaller rather than larger. For an extra step and an even better fit, file the press on to mirror the natural curvature of your nail bed.
File the F**k Out of your nails
Prep, prep, prep. This is vital for ensuring the longevity of your manicure. Start by cutting your nails short and pushing your cuticles back. Then, file the entire surface of each nail. You want it to be rough – this will help the glue stick and keep the nail from coming off. Make sure to wipe with the alcohol pad that comes with the nails after this!
Use glue and gels
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: use both glue and gel adhesive. It sounds like overkill, but this is game-changing, trust me. You can either buy nails with gel adhesive strips pre-attached, or that come separately. But don’t rely on just these — no matter what the packaging tells you, I promise they will not stay on longer than a day. Same with the glue — one bit of pressure and the whole thing will pop off. Instead, apply a layer of glue directly to your natural nail, then, place the adhesive side of the press-on over the top of this (starting at the cuticle with a downward angle), applying hard pressure to the entire nail. Start with both your pinkies and work your way in towards your thumbs for maximum ease.
Before trying them for myself, I was convinced press-ons would look tacky and fall off, and I never wanted to wear them. But, since purchasing my first set, I’ve become an addict and have never looked back. Ditch the salon and make the switch to save that extra cash for splurging on guac at Chipotle, oat milk in your latte or an Uber up the Hill on Thirsty Thursday.