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My beauty routine is equal parts bougie and cheap; a little department store and a little drugstore. Open up my gym bag, and you’ll find a pack of Neutrogena makeup remover wipes under my $64 pumpkin seed brightening serum. The point I’m trying to make is that variety is the spice of my beauty life, and I make no apologies for it. One of my biggest gripes with beauty elitists is the assumption that press-on nails are somehow a step down from acrylics or a gel manicure.
I’m not sure how we came to that conclusion, but press-ons don’t deserve the bad wrap. For one, they save you time. Why sit in a salon chair for one to two hours when you can pop those babies on and walk out the door in minutes or less? They’re also a fraction of the price and pre-painted so you don’t have to worry about dry time and chipping. In fact, one of the most enduring red-carpet beauty secrets is the use of press-ons instead of full-on manis when a celeb wants to protect her nail beds or be able to switch her polish without the lag time.
So whether you’re low on cash, low on time, or simply want to take press-ons for a test-drive, we’ve curated a list that includes plenty of sleek designs, from minimal to the most extra. But before that, here are three quick tips for application:
Apply a base coat. Before gluing or sticking on your press-on nails, protect your nail beds by painting them with a strengthening clear base coat.
Remove moisture. We love our cuticle oils as much as the next person, but residue from oils, lotions, or creams can weaken the strength of nail adhesive. Before applying your press-ons, make sure your nail beds are dry and clean by wiping them with a nail polish remover (even if there isn’t polish there).
Remove them carefully. Whenever you decide it’s time to remove the press-ons, instead of pulling them off and potentially damaging your natural nails, soak them in warm water first to loosen the adhesive or apply an oil along the cuticles to more easily slide them off.
Lime Crime Pop On Nails
Chromatic tips for channeling your inner unicorn.
$5 at Lime Crime
A pop of floral for your springtime mani-grams.
$16 at Urban Outfitters
E.S. Zakka Pink Luxury Kawaii Nails
We have a feeling Cardi B, the queen of blinged-out manis, would love this set of stilettos.
$21.36+ at Etsy
By Mimi Nails Versace-Inspired Press-On Nails
There are countless shops dedicated to the underrated art of press-on nails. Who can resist these designer digits?
$25 at Etsy
imPRESS Press-On Manicure
Geometric shapes are always in style.
$5.99 at Target
House of Holland ‘Ruby Tuesday’ Stiletto Nails
Red-hot nails for a red-hot night out.
$24 at ASOS
iikonn Rose Gold Metallic Nails
Why use a mirror when you can look at yourself through these reflective press-ons?
$15.99 at iikonn
Dashing Diva Virtual Round Nails
Sometimes, simple is best.
$10 at Dashing Diva
Bella Nails Navy Matte Press-On Nails
There’s just something so high-fashion about a matte finish.
$7.79 at Sally Beauty
Christian Siriano X imPRESS Press-On Marbled Manicure
Nail art, elevated.
$7.99 at KISS
Christian Siriano X imPRESS Press-On ‘People Are People’ Manicure
A mani with a message.
$7.99 at KISS