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Gone are the days when you had to go to the salon for acrylic nails or nail art. There are so many products and mani kits on the market these days that’s it’s easier than ever to get amazing-looking nails right at home. One product you should absolutely have in your kit: nail glue, which is essential for applying acrylic nails, press on nails, and certain types of nail art like gemstones and foil.
To find the perfect nail glue for your needs, Jackie Truong, co-founder of LeChat Nails, recommends first examining the viscosity of the glue. “The thicker the viscosity, the slower it will dry,” says Truong. “The less viscous and more watery, the faster it will dry.” Truong suggests slower-setting nail glue for beginners. “This will allow time to make any adjustments and correct mistakes before it completely dries,” she says.
Brittney Boyce, consulting nail artist for ORLY, likes brush-on nail glues for ease of use. “It makes it so much easier to apply without overdoing it,” she says. “You want to avoid glue that’s too thick or goopy, as you want something that applies in thin even layers.” This will help prevent you from accidentally getting glue all over your cuticles and skin.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best nail glues for applying acrylics, press-on nails, and nail art at home.
Best Overall: Nailene Ultra Quick Nail Glue
This nail glue receives high marks for its ease of use and durability. (Reviewers call this “scary strong.”) The glue dries quickly—in five seconds—and keeps faux nails in place for two weeks or more. Fans of this nail glue say it lasts through activities like washing dishes and taking hot showers and that removal is a cinch with acetone.
Best for Press-On Nails: Static Nails’ Brush-on Nail Glue
This nail glue is the perfect complement to Static Nails’ gorgeous press-on manicures. Depending on how much glue you apply, the non-damaging formula can be worn anywhere from one day to more than two weeks. Plus, the removal process is super-easy: Soak nails in hot water for a few minutes, then pop them right off with light pressure.
Best for Split Nails: KISS Pro's Choice Precision Nail Glue
Beyond being useful for applying acrylics, nail glue can also help fix cracked or split nails. This one is a particularly good option for just that. All you have to do is apply a teeny-tiny drop of glue onto the split to repair it. Reviewers also note this glue is great at preventing gel manis from prematurely peeling.
Best for Acrylics: Makartt Quick Nail Glue
Doing acrylic nails at home is certainly a process, but this nail glue will make your life just a little bit simpler. The brush makes for easy, even glue application, and although it dries quickly, it’s not too quick—giving you time to get your nail application just right. Reviewers note this nail glue can also be used for gems and split nail repair.
Best Hypoallergenic: Big Bondini Plus All Purpose Nail Glue
Does nail glue cause you skin irritation? It’s all about finding one that’s non-irritating. Turn your attention to this hypoallergenic formula. It’s made especially for sensitive skin or anyone who reacts to traditional nail glue. Long-lasting nails without the irritation? Sign us up.
Best for Beginners: 5 Second Nail Cosmetics Brush-On Nail Glue
If you’re new to the nail glue game, this one’s for you. This nail glue is extremely easy to use thanks to the built-in brush. It gives you ample time to apply your nails before it fully dries, and can be used to apply acrylics, press ons, or gemstones.
Most Durable: Cala Super Nail Glue
Consider this the super glue of nail glue. If you want nails that won’t budge until you’re to take them off, get your hands on this nail glue. Made for acrylic nail tips, this nail glue gets raves for its ultra-strong formula (nails last up to two weeks or more) that survives cleaning your dishes and washing your hair.
Best Pro Quality: INFILILA Professional Nail Glue
Get a pro manicure right at home with this salon-quality nail glue. The quick-drying formula lasts anywhere from 14 to 30 days. Plus, you can use this nail glue for a variety of purposes, making it a major multitasker: apply acrylics, add rhinestones, or repair a broken nail.
Best Pen: KDS Nail Tip Glue
This nail glue pen offers convenient and precise application. Throw it in your bag without worrying about it opening up and spilling. It’s great for press on nails, with reviewers noting that it lasts through activities like taking a bath and washing dishes. Plus, it dries really fast.
Best for Gems: Dashing Diva Fast Bond Glue
Get your glitz on with this professional nail glue. In addition to providing long-lasting staying power for acrylic nails, it’s great for applying gems and crystals for a super-sparkly manicure thanks to the precision application tip. This nail glue feels comfortable on nails and the high-quality formula won’t bubble.
You should also be careful about how you store your nail glue. “It’s best to store the glue in cold conditions to preserve the integrity and give it a longer shelf life,” explains Truong. “Hot conditions will cause the glue to jelly up and harden.”
How to Apply Nail Glue
To get the best results out of your nail glue, start with a clean surface to ensure your faux nail or gemstones will really adhere to your natural nail. Boyce suggests washing your hands, then using a lint-free wipe soaked with acetone or alcohol (one free of essential oils or glycerin) to remove any traces of oil.
Truong suggests dropping a small amount of glue directly to the under-groove of the artificial nail tip. “Then slowly using a 45-degree rocking method, apply onto nail,” she says. Accidently get nail glue on your skin or cuticle? “If you do, before it dries, use an acetone-soaked brush to clean it up,” advises Boyce.
How to Remove Nail Glue
As for the removal process, you’ll want to use acetone. “It will penetrate through the glue for easy removal,” says Boyce. The technique is similar to removing a gel mani. Simply soak a cotton ball or cotton pad with acetone, place it on your nail, and wrap it with foil, says Boyce. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and the nail glue should come off easily.