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I need to get something off my chest: I f*ck with press-on nails, HEAVILY. I think they’re way better than any other manicure, and I’m one hundred percent prepared to die on this hill—in fact, I’ll be digging my grave with a fresh set. Because say what you want about fake nails, but they’ve never hurt me quite like a gel manicure has. After just one particularly horrifying gel removal appointment that left my nails mauled and brittle for weeks, I swore off salons and promptly fell in love with press-ons.

Not only are they cheaper, easier, and faster to apply, but my fake nails have so far tricked every damn friend into thinking they’re “real” too. Don’t get me wrong, I still love visiting the salon for a *regular* mani, one I can remove myself at home without scraping, peeling, or soaking (seriously, who has the time?). But for a manicure that lasts without chipping or flaking or requiring the steady hand of an art major? Yeah, press-on nails all the way.

And because I’ve become the unofficial expert on all things fake nails in , I’ve gone ahead and ranked five different press-on nails ranging from expensive to drugstore. Yes, I actually wore them all, and yes, these reviews are fully uncensored. Catch the highlights below.

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Best Overall Press-On Nails

Marmalade Brushed Gold Press-Ons


I’m a sucker for ’grammable nails, and Marmalade lives up to its social media hype. The press-on nails range from $15 to $30 and come in a ton of trim-able shapes and lengths, from pointy stilettos to badass coffins. The packaging was also my favorite out of the five—the nails come in a cute box with a stacked-out kit that includes an orange stick, glue, a mini nail file, 24 nails in 12 sizes, and a super-handy removal tool. The nails fit seamlessly, took 10 minutes to apply, lasted two weeks with minimal repairs needed, and earned me SO many compliments (which the Leo in me loved).


Best Drugstore Press-On Nails

Kiss Gel Fantasy Nails


I love a good drugstore press-on, and these Kiss nails are by far the best for the cheapest (like, the most expensive set costs only $12). They’re a bit thinner than Marmalade but not by much, and the package includes adhesives, nail glue, an orange stick, and a file. This Kiss set lasted one and a half weeks before needing repairs on a few renegade nails, which almost rivaled my Marmalade favorites. Basically, these press-ons are a great affordable option that’ll trick people into thinking (1) you have your shit together and (2) you’re a fancy salon regular.


Best Custom Press-On Nails

The Nailest Instant Glam Peachy Chrome Set


The packaging on these press-ons is unmatched: a gorge black jewelry box that comes with a file/buffer, an orange stick, a wipe, and adhesives. The set was easy to trim (I’m not into the whole talon look, but do you) and actually fit seamlessly along my nail bed without wonky gaps or overhang (largely thanks the sizing chart on the site). I opted for a ready-to-ship set, which can cost anywhere from $10 to $18, and was in love with the results. I was able to squeeze in a solid two weeks wearing them, with minimal repairs.


Best Glue-Free Press-On Nails

ImPress Press-on Manicure


If you’re really ~pressed~ for time (el oh el), this drugstore option is my go-to. The set doesn’t require glue, so you could literally apply them in an Uber on the way to a friend’s, thanks to a dot of adhesive under each nail. Although they were super cute (and cheap), they were also pretty flimsy without actual glue, so they didn’t last longer than one night. Buuut that also meant removal was easy, because the nails pretty much popped off after running my hands under some water.


Best Trendy Press-On Nails

Dashing Diva Glow On Press-Ons


Two other Cosmo editors are obsessed with these press-on nails, and for good reason: They’re crazy-cheap and crazy-good—as long as you use glue. Even though, yes, you can press them on with adhesive alone, I’ve found they last one to two days, max, without glue. While these aren’t my absolute favorite nail in terms of durability, this chrome finish is so damn eye-catching and trendy, and the natural shape will last longer than a Kylie Jenner talon. Also, they’re So! Damn! Affordable!

Patricia CamerotaSocial Media EditorPatty Camerota is the social butterfly media editor at Cosmopolitan who focuses on content distribution across Cosmo’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard, and Spotify pages.

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The best press-on nails to try now

Press-on nails have come a long way since the '80s and '90s.

We all remember the press-on nails that would look cheap and pop off way too easily. But the newer versions are made with higher-quality plastic and adhesives that last much longer.

“I call them Cinderella nails,” Adeline Sarino, national director of nails at The Red Door Salon & Spa, told TODAY Style. “They are perfect for an event or if you (can't) visit the nail salon.”

Like many at-home beauty hacks, you need to follow the directions and affix them correctly. And if you do, Sarino says they can last for as long as a week. Plus, there are tons of options from which to choose.

“In the drugstore nail section, you will see a variety of full-coverage, press-on nails that are cute and trendy mixed with classic styles and also made with nail art on them. You can even find full-coverage nails that you can glue and decorate yourself,” she said.

And for those who have a particular nail shape they love, there are plenty of choices, too.

“I love that they come in a variety of shapes — from square, round and stiletto — to suit what you're looking for. The press-on nails often come in a kit with sticky tape, glue, nail file and easy-to-follow directions. I love that some of the kits come with a glue that is tinted pink for the French looks. It really gives the nail a natural look when the tips are on,” Sarino said.

What are press-on nails?

“Press-on nails are basically the (same) fake nails we use when doing nail extensions; the only difference is these are molded to cover the whole nail bed," celebrity manicurist Erica Marton said. “We use only half of a press-on nail (in the salon) then, the other half, we use gel or acrylic to fill that space in, which is much more durable on the nail.”

How do press-on nails work?

It’s actually pretty straightforward and user-friendly.

Choose a style you love and shape or file your nails to prepare them. Open the box and match up a nail to each of your fingers (if some fake nails are too big for your nail bed, file them until they fit). Clean your nail beds with acetone or alcohol and apply the nails according to the box instructions. Whichever kind you use (glue or tape backing), put the adhesive directly onto the nail and apply the false nail to it. Hold and press down in place for about 10 seconds, and you're done!

Can press-on nails damage your actual nails?

They shouldn’t damage your natural nails if you are careful. Most of the damage, if any, could occur if you are too rough in the removal process.

“Repeated use of press-on nails may be damaging depending on the type of glue or adhesive used and the chemical composition of the glue,” said Dave Crisalli, founder and CEO of Prose, a nail boutique. “A common method to remove press-ons is to soak the nail in pure acetone for up to 10 mins. Extended exposure to acetone can be very drying to nails and cuticles. We recommend using an intensive hand moisturizer and cuticle serum to counter the drying effects.”

And try to save press-on nails for special occasions, Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York City-based dermatologist, suggested.

“Let your real nails breathe. Don’t have them covered with artificial nails and wraps too often,” Jaliman said. “The glue used and the process of removing the artificial nails or wraps can weaken your own nails (over time).”

How long do press-on nails stay on?

This can vary depending on if you are using glue or adhesive. But, according to Marton, glue can be expected to stay on for about five to seven days and adhesive backing around three to five days.

What are press-on nails made of?

Generally, they are made of plastic. If it says “gel” or “acrylic” on the packaging, that means it is on top of the plastic nail, Marton said. The difference between glue or adhesive is in the backing. Press-on nails with glue tend to last longer (depending on how rough you are with your nails).

How do you remove press-on nails?

Be gentle when removing fake nails, meaning don’t rip them off (that's the most common way to cause damage!).

If you used “self-stick” nails, you can simply soak your fingertips in warm, soapy water for about five to 10 minutes then gently start lifting the artificial nails. For glue, however, you will likely need acetone to break it down, according to Marton. She recommends adding a drop of oil or rich cream onto your hands to regain moisture immediately after using acetone.

“Again, these nails were not designed to last long, so they should come off fairly easy — just be gentle in your process,” Marton said.

The best press-on nails:

A good way to think of press-on nails is to compare them to at-home eyelashes. You can have them professionally done with eyelash extensions and know they will last longer or you can do them at home and know they will last only so long. If you choose the at-home route, Marton recommended the following three press-on nails.

1. Impress Press-On Manicure

“They have great styles and designs and sizes, but I do like the adhesive backing — makes it super easy to apply,” Marton said.

2. Kiss Products Full-Cover Nails in Active Oval

“Kiss is just good all the way around, from sizing to designs and all the different shapes they offer. They even bring in real nail artists to design their products, which I think is amazing,” Marton said.

3. Icing French Manicure Square Faux Nail Set

“They have great designs, but I (especially) like the sizing of their fake nails; they always fit great!” Marton said.

This story was originally published Feb. 21,

Aly Walansky is a New York City-based food and lifestyle writer with nearly two decades of writing experience for various digital publications. She's focused on the latest in dining trends and budget meal-planning tips. 

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These days, we're all about DIY beautyand anything with long-lasting results for less time needed in-salon. While you may have mastered the art of doing your own gel manicure or dip powder set during this time at home, acrylic nails could be a great next project, especially if you are looking for something with long wear and lots of shine.

Acrylic nails can be especially beneficial to those with shorter nails. "Using acrylics can be a nice way to add length to your nails, which you cannot do with regular polish," says Jessica Tong, nail artist and Smith & Cult Brand Ambassador in San Francisco. Tong is a fan of at-home acrylic nails but warns that patience is definitely required: "Practice is needed to perfect a medium like acrylic," she says. "It was the hardest skill I learned in nail school." Tong recommends practicing with false or press-on nails a few times to get the hang of it before you try it on your own nails. "If it doesn’t come out perfect the first time, it’s okay," she says.

The most important part of at-home acrylics? Getting the right kit and supplies to do the job well. Here are the best acrylic nail kits for beginners, professionals, and everything in between:

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Best Overall Acrylic Nail Kit

Xpress Dip Color Kit


Tong loves this Gelish kit as it "can save you a lot of time by not having to do all of the of shaping and filing," she says. If you are new to doing nail extensions, she recommends doing dip powder acrylics as it’s "a fast and easy way to achieve the effect of acrylics and get a smooth finish." The kit comes with everything you'll need for the full manicure, plus clear step-by-step instructions on how to use it all. 

  • Starter kit; contains all essential tools
  • Easy to use

Best Value Acrylic Nail Kit

Complete Salon Acrylic Kit


A budget-friendly kit that's easy to use and get salon-quality results? Yes, really! This acrylic set from Kiss is beloved by both Tong and reviewers alike. Tong touted it as the "best value, hands down, for a beginner or a one-time use kit." Walmart reviewers shared that "the instructions are very clear and easy to follow" and the kit is "good quality."

  • Affordable
  • Easy instructions
  • Natural-looking finish

Best Acrylic Nail Kit for Beginners

Poly Extension Gel Nail Kit


This Beetles kit is another favorite of Tong's for good reason: "LED poly gel press-on extensions like these will add length to nails and are super easy to use, especially for beginners," she explains. Multiple Amazon reviewers agree, including one who "loved this kit" and says "it was easy to use and the instructions were very clear."  Another first-time user on Amazon "loved being able to mold the nail as much as I want before setting the gel," and felt that "it’s a good kit to buy to start."

  • Simple instructions
  • Good for first-timers
  • Ideal for multiple uses

Best Professional Salon Acrylic Nail Kit

Dipping Powders Essentials Kit



In addition to being a one-stop-shop for a long-lasting dip powder manicure, this professional kit from Kiara Sky includes all odorless  products and has a shorter application time than other traditional acrylic kits. Tong is a big fan of the brand and feels that they are "high quality products that really work." One Amazon reviewer shares that this system is "quick and easy and the results are beautiful, even the first time you do it."

  • Time-saving
  • Good quality
  • No smell

Best Basic Acrylic Nail Kit

Acrylic Nail Kit



While it's fun to have every color option under the sun, when you are just starting out with acrylics, you really only need the basics. This kit from Mia Secret is just that. One Amazon reviewer summed it up perfectly: "If you are new or have only a little experience doing your own nails at home, this kit has everything you need in the perfect size to see if doing your own nails at home is for you!"

  • Compact, travel-friendly
  • Budget-friendly
  • Starter kit; ideal for beginners

Most Popular Acrylic Nail Kit on Amazon

42 in 1 Acrylic Nail Kit



Searching for an all-in-one comprehensive acrylic kit? WuBeFine's version is perfect for you. In addition to the essential tools and supplies, it comes with a ton of colors, glitters and sequins at a very reasonable price. "The kit comes with everything you'd want to make a great design whether it's ombré nails, glitter, neon or more," one Amazon reviewer shared. "It's definitely a good value for your money."  

  • Works for beginners or professionals
  • Wide range of colors
  • Great for nail art

Best Advanced Acrylic Nail Kit

Nail Art Kit



Another all-in-one acrylic nail set, this Walmart top-seller by Mascarry has everything you need for a professional acrylic powder manicure. Especially great for nail art and designs, one Walmart user shared that "this kit came with everything" to do a DIY mani at home. This expansive set is great for those who are committed to trying different colors and designs at home.

  • Great color selection
  • Affordably-priced

Best Acrylic Nail Drill

Portable Acrylic Nail Drill



Nail drills are no joke, but this comprehensive drill set for acrylic nails from Xpreen is good for nail veterans or newcomers alike. It saves time from manual nail filing and is compact, portable, and easy to use. One Walmart reviewer shared that it "is very easy to use" and "doesn't harm my nails", while another loves that "it has a switch on the cord that changes the direction of the way the drill goes, which I really like."

  • Small and lightweight
  • Travel-friendly
  • Professional quality

Dori PriceFreelance Beauty EditorDori Price is a Boston-born, New York City-based freelance writer, editor and beauty, style, and wellness expert who was the Beauty & Fashion Director at Family Circle for 13 years before she joined Good Housekeeping, Prevention and Woman’s Day as a freelance beauty editor.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at

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