Fake nails, glue-on nails or press-ons— whatever you call them— are the breather your nails need from gel and acrylic nails. They are pretty and they definitely will last long (with care!).
But your overthinking mind might wonder, “What’s the catch?” After all, glitters and rhinestones and the most vivid of colors on your fingernails feels like it, at least, has one downside you can’t and must not ignore. You know, like how fire can keep you warm and also burn your house.
Yet, what if there is really none?
It is affordable, quick to apply and remove, and even leaves your nails healthier than your usual gel or acrylic mani. And as you are a smart buyer, there is one more thing which catches your attention: is it cheap for its one-time use only or can you reuse press-on nails?
Yaaaay for you and Mother Earth! These nails are actually reusable! There are certain terms and conditions, of course, as to how often you can do it or even how to properly ensure you can reuse it for later time.
How many times can you reuse fake nails?
Are press-on nails reusable? Yes. That’s one newbie question to be tossed to Neverland.
But there’s a follow up to that you are itching to ask — how many times?
Reusing something is quite a subjective topic. You see, it’s like dropping food on the floor. Do you still pick it up and eat it? Or do you just let it be even if it was there for mere seconds?
Taylor Swift answered it really depends on you.
And perhaps, there lies your clue. Once you remove your fake nails for the first time, they become that dropped food. And now it depends on you to assess it.
A tip: It’s a general rule to only reuse it if it has not lost its aesthetic value a.k.a. if you can still slay with it, go for it. But if it is chipped or has started to peel off, you might not want to reuse that.
Granted, the slightly more expensive ones are more durable. No shock factor there! They don’t chip easily, look better and feel more comfortable. They are more resistant to clumsiness.
But if you started the journey wary or non-committal, it’s alright. The cheap ones can be reused too. Great, right?
Cheap or expensive, there are two conditions to keep in mind so you can reuse them: (1) you took care of them while using and (2) you were careful in removing them.
How to clean press on nails for reuse
On your way to buying press-ons, you have probably heard some nasty rumors about it— how it damages your real nails. It’s not totally unfounded, of course. Someone probably bought a bunch of them and never did any reading on press-ons but for the simple instructions stuffed along with it.
But such things are not earthquakes. They are merely bumps in the road that you can avoid if you stay alert.
The first thing is to always assess (such as in our proverbial dropped food). Is it still nice to look at? No chipping or peel-offs? If yes, then the next thing is to devise the removal of your fake nails.
If you ever wondered where those rumors came from, it’s from the people who ripped their press-ons so hard trying to get them out that their nail beds suffered the consequences.
In order to reuse your press-ons, it is important that you don’t use acetone when removing them. This potentially dissolves the acrylic making up your press-ons. And second, you don’t use too much force that you would eventually break them.
In other words, treat it like a baby falling asleep. You won’t yank it, will you? You have to be patient and gentle.
Okay, now that you took notes of the no-no’s, it’s time for some removal tips.
These days, you can use press-ons with either an adhesive tab, as discussed below, or the classic nail glue.
(May you not be the type to be reminded that super glue is not and never will be an alternative.)
Attached with adhesive tab
1. Loosen the adhesive tab with rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based sanitizer. It doesn’t take that long— just a mere 30 seconds of rubbing around the edges of the extension will do.
2. Gently rock the press-ons from side to side in order to lift the press-ons. If it doesn’t feel as smooth as Excalibur on King Arthur’s hands, then do not pull it out. It will destroy your nails for sure. You can use more alcohol in order to help with the lifting process.
Attached with glue
You probably opted to still apply glue even when there is an adhesive tab. Trust issues or not on your part, you are now committed to a more permanent path. Be it that way, the removal process looks more like a spa day for your nails than a rigorous pull-out session.
1. Your friend here is a warm soapy water for five minutes. It’s like giving your nails a deserved soak in the bathtub after working so hard for you.
2. Further loosen it using oil. Olive oil or coconut oil will do. Soapy baths can be drying so it’s a plus to have this hydration boost!
3. Gently rock your nails from side to side. (Yes, this motion again.) You can soak while rocking if it seems to lift it more naturally. You may have to soak and rock more than you’d prefer but patience is key to healthier nails!
Hardened glue may interfere with the fresh glue and it may not stick as nicely as you want.
You can use any sharp object or tweezers to scrape off the residual glue left. If that is too crass, you can use isopropyl alcohol to do a quick wipe on your press-ons.
As long as you clean off the remnants especially at the back, then all is well for reuse.
CHECK OUT: How to clean underneath acrylic nails
How to reuse press on nails without nail glue
A nail glue should already be stuffed somewhere in the set that you bought. If not or if you happen to lose it, don’t fret.
Adhesive tabs or sticky tabs are your double-sided heroes. It’s the most common alternative to nail glue. They come in different shapes so they perfectly fit each nail. No awkward nail here! One side sticks to your press-on and the other to your nail.
If somehow you can’t get ahold of the official ways of gluing your fake nails, there are always some sage advice that may seem suspect but actually works.
CHECK OUT: How to protect your nails from nail glue
If it is just for a one-time event you are showing those glorious nails off for, then make use of something which won’t hold strongly but would still get you through till lights out.
Good thing, fashion tapes are a thing. It’s not just for wardrobe malfunctions!
Clear nail polish
You can’t go wrong with buying a clear polish. Not only is it a go-to for casual manis but it will rescue you in the most dire of nail situations—including your press-on dilemma.
How to: Paint the back of a press-on with a tiny amount of clear polish. Leave it to air dry until it has a tacky (NOT dry nor wet!) consistency. You can then put it on your nails and hold it still for a minute each.
Base coat and white glue
This is the most unorthodox of the lot but it works the same so here it is!
Pro tip: Work one nail at a time since the base coat can dry easily.
How to: Apply base coat on your nail and before it can dry, cover it generously with white school glue. Brush it out to even out the glue. You can now press the nail and hold it in position for a minute. It cures for only 5 minutes so no long waiting time!
CHECK OUT: Why are nails clear
How often should you replace press-on nails?
The ideal time is when you say it is.
Glue-ons typically last for 2-3 weeks. The give-away is when most of them lift off naturally. One nail can be remedied but when your nails are popping off like popcorns, that’s your cue to remove them.
So there’s your answer. You can replace it when a majority of your nails say it’s time.
And while you are in this line of thinking, do not ever remove glue-on fake nails on the same day. It has a great probability of damaging your real nails. So avoid it!
To make sure you don’t subject your nails to constant replacements and the likelihood of wrecking havoc to your real nails, you must learn how to make them last longer.
Tip 1: Prep religiously. That means, alcohol pads should be at your disposal before you glue on fake nails.
Tip 2: Quality is king. This applies to your choice of glue and press-on themselves. You may choose to put the glue on both your nail and the fake ones just to fully secure them. And when you apply them, put enough pressure for 30 seconds to make it stick better.
Tip 3: Do not come in contact with water. If you really want to ace it, stay dry overnight.
When you finally decide to replace them, you can use the double boiler method.
Pro tip: Slather your nails with oil first before this.
How to: Fill a larger bowl with a couple inches of water then place a smaller bowl with acetone inside. Once the acetone is warm, soak your nails for 5-10 minutes.
Can you use press-on nails more than once?
Yes, yes, yes! You can use them as long as they still look presentable. So if you have any plans of reusing, just be careful in removing them.
Can you keep press-on nails?
Yes, you can. But they will naturally pop off after 2-3 weeks (if you are not clumsy!). If you are thinking of re-gluing them, just stop. Fresh glue won’t be as sticky when glue residue is still present on your nails. Besides, it would be thick. Yuck!
Can you reuse Kiss press on nails?
Yes. Kiss offers reusable press-on nails so you could get quality and also have your money’s worth from your nails. An example from their line is Kiss Majestic nails which has up to 3x reusability.
Can you reuse imPress press on nails?
ImPress, Kiss’ sister company, offers a great deal for no-glue press ons. According to imPress themselves, their nails are not reusable. They are made to be flexible to provide a comfortable fit. Removing it will distort this somehow and will not be available for reuse.
CHECK OUT: How to dry gel nail polish without UV light
Press-on nails aren’t and shouldn’t be difficult. If they are, they defeat their purpose. So even with the cautionary tales and onslaught of pro tips that you would probably forget, just take it easy and enjoy.
Sometimes, it can really just be summarized to one sentence— reuse when you can still reuse it and replace when you can’t. It’s a quick rule to master and something you probably do know already.
So get on with it because, as cliche as it sounds, experience is the best teacher.