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How To Apply Press On Nails So They Last

September 03, 2021

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Do you want to get that perfect, professional manicure look for your next special occasion?

Are you looking for the best tips and tricks to make sure those press-on nails don't move an inch? Look no further!

Here's a step by step tutorial and learn how to apply press-on nails so they stay on for days on end.

White Impress Nails

I'm a total girly girl.

I love hair, makeup, great fashion and most of all pretty nails, since my hands are in my view all day long.

Unfortunately, I can't use nail polish. I don't do well with strong odors or perfumes.

So for years, I had naked nails. Not good.

Other than very bad fake nails, that would fall off a few short hours after application, I was out of luck.

Of course, today, there are tons of options for someone who can't or doesn't want to deal with the perils of polish.

There are nail wraps, some of which I have tried with varying rates of success.
And fakes nails...a pool I really didn't plan to dip my toe (or finger) into after my experiences in the past. All I could think about was high school...and being mostly unmanicured by 3rd period.


Then a friend turned me on to press ons and I was hooked.

hand holding keys wearing Funny Bunny Impress OPI Nails

The nails I've been using are Kiss Impress Nails with OPI colors.

The application process is a breeze and with a few simple tips, mine last a solid two weeks. And I'm not gentle with them at all.

Naked nails tying a bow around a sock snowman Oh No!

*The package recommends not wearing them for longer than 7 days FYI.

If you caught my last DIY, you'll see my hands, nails included, decoupaging. That's a messy task, but the nails held up.

I've scraped dry ice cream off the kitchen floor with them, done heavy, wet towel loads of laundry and washed dishes, morning, noon and night. 

Impress Nails In Water

I've even spent hours in the pool.

These suckers don't budge. 

It was too hard for me to demonstrate the application on my own hands, so today, I'm putting them on my daughter's hands instead to show you the quick and easy process.

How To Make Press On Nails Last

Let's start with some quick tips first. These are really important if you want the nails to last.

I read a lot and experimented and this is what works best for me.

Step By Step Application Tips

These are my best tips to prep your hands and the nails before you apply them.

  • Put the nails on in the evening and don't wash your hands until you get up in the morning. The longer you let the glue set without getting it wet, the better.
  • Don't cut your own nails, let them be as long as possible underneath the press ons. The more surface area there is for the faux nail to grab onto, the better.
  • I use a nail file and rough up the top of my own nail a teeny bit to give the glue a less slick surface to adhere to. The directions do not say to do this. However, this helps with nail wraps and I've found it makes a big difference with these nails, as well.
  • I flatten each nail with my fingers a bit so they fit my own better. They have some give and out of the box, they're too curved for a tight contact. 

Now that you have my expert tips, we're ready for the DIY. 

1. Color

First things first, I choose a color. There are so many pretty ones.

Baby Why So Blue Impress Nails

2. Read The Instructions.

The kits come with great instructions. They're printed on the package and reiterated in an insert.

Hand holding Press On Nails Instructions

3. Map Out The Sizes

The nails are all numbered so you can match them for each hand. I always choose a nail that's a tiny bit smaller than larger. You don't want it to go over your skin or your cuticle. They won't stick well.

Then I lay them out, so I know what will go where.

Numbered Nails in front of hand ready for application

4. Prep Your Nails

Next up, I use the included nail file to rough up the top a bit and the prep pad to wipe off any debris. 

Prepping Nails For Press Ons

5. Peel and Stick

Then it's time for glue...except there is no glue. That's the best part!

You just peel away the plastic backing and stick the faux nail onto your own. Easy enough.

Putting On Press On Nails

Except, the first time I put them on, they were upside down. I mean it's clearly illustrated on the package, but this DIY girl made a mess. Some expert, eh?

It only happened once though. 

I'm all good now. 

6. Press

Once all the nails are on, I take the wooden orange stick to press around the edges of the nail and underneath to make certain that everything is snug.

Filing Impress Nails

7. File

Then I use the file to smooth out the top edge. For some reason, there seems to be a small rough spot at the center of the tips. 

You can also file the nails down further if you want them to be shorter, although I find the length to be manageable.

The last thing I will mention is that if your own nails are much shorter than the press ons, you may feel the glue underneath. The instructions say that you can add clear polish there to cover it up.

Woman's hand with blue impress color nails

I don't bother to do that. I don't notice it, and my nails have grown since I've been using the Impress ones, so the gap between the two is very small.

How To Remove Press On Nails

To remove them, simply take the edge of the wooden orange stick and gently pry the side up a bit and they pop off.

Truth be told, when I take them off after two weeks, they're still really bonded, so I use a bit of olive oil to loosen the glue.

Never rip or peel them off. My nails are actually longer and stronger since I started using the press ons, but I guarantee, from my experience with wraps, that removing them improperly will damage your nails.

Press On Nails Application Tips So They Stay On

Of course, there are other options out there, true glue ons, for example. For Christmas, my daughter received a few sets that were custom designed. You send your nail measurements to the artist, who paints them in sizes that will fit your nail beds perfectly.

Then you simply glue them on. Similar to these.

Although measuring her hands in the middle of the night, while she was sleeping, so she'd be surprised, was not so simple! 

No, that was all too fussy for me. I'm a grab and go kind of girl who spends most of her days cookingcleaning and crafting.

So I've been super happy with my new found finger frills.

I've actually been wearing them for months and have been so impressed - no pun intended - that I thought I'd share them on this Fun Find Friday. 

Because they are super fun, super cheap and super easy to apply. Win, win, win, in my book.

I feel like a girl again when I look at my hands.

At least for two weeks at a time.

Too bad I didn't have these in high school.


Are you a girly girl?
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  1. I get my toenails done, but never my fingernails. I would ruin them because of the projects and cleaning and stuff I’m constantly doing. I love yours, though!

    1. I totally agree...Polish would chip on me in minutes. I use my fingers for everything. I have to say, in that respect, the press ons and the wraps are pretty tough, but there's nothing like a natural nail!

  2. I'm a low maintenance girly girl, lol. I'm not into fashion, but I like to look nice when I go out. I keep my wardrobe pretty minimal and I never spend a lot of money on clothes. TJ Maxx and Sierra are my go-to places for new clothes. I'm also lucky that we have a fantastic consignment shop here where they sell top brand-name clothes at decent prices. As for makeup, I wear the bare essentials - a BB cream, blush, mascara, lipstick. I never spend a lot of money on these things either - Maybelline, Cover Girl, etc work just fine. Nails - I do my own. I have allergies, but the fumes of the polish don't bother me. Did you know there are odorless nail polishes now? Little Ondine is one of them (haven't tried it), not sure of others. I've gotten a couple of pedicures this summer when my back was bad and couldn't do my own toes! Sorry, but I don't like the look of fake nails. Nothing personal - it's just me!

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.

    1. We don’t have a Sierra around here, Melanie. I would love to see what they have. I used to enjoy shopping at Marshalls, our TJMaxx isn’t fabulous. However, I don’t have the patience to pick though racks anymore. The thrill of the game is gone. Now I order online, I see it on a model and I’m good to go…as long as there’s free returns! Ha!

      Enjoy the weekend!

  3. I miss having my nails done, sigh. Unfortunately I lost my left thumb (just below the nail bed and above the joint) in a freak accident 3 years ago so I'm self conscious to draw attention to my hands. My husband jokes that I should get a 10 percent discount on manicures :-)

    1. Yes, there's really nothing like having your nails done by someone else. Very relaxing...and I'm sorry about your thumb. And I can totally hear my husband making the same joke! Enjoy the weekend!

  4. What a great discovery! Your nails look so good.

  5. I did notice your nails in the pig DIY Kim. Your nails look amazing. I will have to try the press on nails as I like that there is no glue involved to put them on. I love the white color nails and thanks for sharing this great idea.

    1. Thanks Julie! I love the fact that there’s no glue…that’s the big sell for me! Enjoy the long weekend and the sun!

  6. I love your nails and plan to look into this! Thanks so much for the tutorial. Not sure I can do such a good job but I think I'll try it. Sorry I haven't commented lately...just a lot going on. Please come by my blog sometimes if you can. And again thanks for the nail advice...I have horrible nails and need all the help I can get!

    1. Hi Cheri! Great to hear from you. I haven’t seen a post from you in a while. hope you’re doing well. I will gladly pop over. And you should definitely try the nails, so easy. Press and go!

  7. These sound pretty amazing. I have never heard of them before.

    I have them all. Now I get LCN. I have strong nails but they Crack in corners.

    Genetic I get it from my mom.

    I'm such a girl, I love it all

    1. I just had to look up LCN! Since I’m not a salon girl, I didn’t know the lingo…and I’ve seen your nails on your posts and they always look amazing!!

  8. Remember the Lee Press-on Nails from back in the day? I remember using those as a teenager. They never lasted long. Yours and your daughter's nails looks gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Briana! They were a fun find for sure...and yes!! I remember the Lee Press Ons. They popped off of my fingers in minutes, too! Press ons have come a long way!!

  9. Your nails look so pretty! Sally Hansen had some sticker polish that I used to use. They had some really funky patterns that I loved when I was younger. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it...and I remember those sticker wraps!! I like the patterns.

  10. Love these Kim. My nails crack all the time and from cleaning and working on things my nails get so wrecked sometimes. These look pretty easy to us. I might have to give them a try. Have a great holiday weekend. xoxo

  11. My girly girls and I go to get manis or pedi together or just 2 at a time. a fun outing. Amy also does our nails for us with gel. They like to get tips. I'm forwarding this post to them. Amy is a ceramic artist so I'm sure she will be especially interested.

  12. I do love make-up, nails, hair, fashion, all of it, and I'm a sucker for beauty products. I started going back for regular mani - pedis again this past summer. The manis never last a week, so I'm probably going to pop into Ulta today and give these a try!

  13. How fun these are. My friend uses these and loves them. I go in for pedi and mani evgery three weeks. I love changing the color.

  14. Kim, every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of your fingers and they always look so pretty. I love all the styles of nails that you use and the colors. I am a girlie-girl who has gone off the rails, as in age wise! I used to have my nails done all the time when I was working but I haven't gone in a long time. I noticed Dolly Parton has beautiful nails but she always wears a pretty lacy glove on her hands and now I know why!!! Maybe I will try that first!..Happy Weekend..xxoJudy

    1. She’s funny, I remember years ago listening to her on some show saying that if something was sagging, bagging or dragging, she was going to nip it, tuck it or suck it. Hahaha! I think I’ll try gloves first, too!!

  15. Your nails look great! Mine are always bare… I share the same lung issues you have. We do have a lot in common Kim, along side our love of cottages… have a wonderful week!

    1. We certainly do, Cara. I realize that every time I read your posts and I find myself nodding along!

  16. OK, I need to try these. Doing my videos, I'm always conscious of how my nails look and I don't always have time to paint them. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    1. Carol, yes!! I can't tell you how many photos I have of myself with naked nails.

  17. Replies
    1. Thanks Carla! My mother told me that my grandmother’s sisters used to paint their chicken’s nails. Can you even imagine??

  18. Oh lordy I've given up on having pretty ladylike nails a long time ago. In fact the last time I tried glue on, manicured nails I was in Matric (last year of school here in S Africa) and I lost a nail somewhere along the line (I know exactly where I lost it, but I'm way to embarrassed to say ;-) ). Anyways that was the last time, but I may just give these a go. I always cringe when I see how grubby my nails look in craft photos.

    1. I'd lost faith, too, Michelle. These have really changed things for me. I can pop them on quickly and so far, I haven't lost any. That's been an unexpected bonus!!

  19. I love love love these nails. I am no longer embarrassed by my ugly, thin ridged nails. One thing to mention though: they really don't recommend leaving them on for 2 weeks. They will start to lift and water will find its way underneath. Trust me on this, I got fungus from leaving mine on for 2 weeks.

    1. Good to know! Thanks so much for the hint, it does say that on the box. So far I haven't had an issue, but I believe that's because, as you said, I have a great bond. If the water does get in then, yes, I can see how it could be a problem.

  20. Any tips for when nothing stays on your nails? Not even super glue? Urg. I am going nuts

    1. Hmmm...That's a tough one. I wonder if you asked at the nail salon what they use for tough nails? I usually just make sure my nails are super dry, then I wipe them with alcohol and rough them up a bit with a file. That was what I was told by a pro. It sounds like you've tried it all though. Perhaps someone else will weigh in in the comments with a tip. Or you might try posting in a FB group about it or DMing a brand on Instagram. They may have a hint for you. Best of luck!