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Press-on nails might seem a little juvenile at first, but like clip-on earrings, people of all ages appreciate the non-committal design. "Having the ability to take them off and switch them every day for your outfit is a great way to stay on-trend," says celebrity stylist Chloe Delgadillo, who specializes in hand styling.
Byrdie Tested & Approved
Whether you're looking to glam up your digits for a special occasion, don't have time to head to the salon, or just aren't great at painting your own nails, press-ons are for you. Of course, not all sets are created equal. We tested several collections in The Lab to find the prettiest, most user-friendly options that won't fall off or ruin your nail beds.
These are the best press-on nails tested by Byrdie.
Best Overall: Static Nails Reusable Pop-On Manicure
Easy to apply
Looks like real nails
Durable and reusable
Almost too sticky
Our top choice is the Pop-On Manicure from Static Nails. These press-ons were generally easy to apply, though the glue was almost too sticky in that it would sometimes adhere to the top of the nail prematurely. With 24 nails and 12 different sizes included, our tester was able to find the perfect size for each finger. The set also comes with a dual-sided file/buffer tool and glue that promises not to damage your nail beds.
After applying the adhesive and pressing down firmly for 30 seconds per nail, they were set in place. Calling the finished look "very natural and classy," our tester loved the almond shape. (You can also get sets with rounded and square tips.) These waterproof press-on nails held up surprisingly well through washing dishes and folding laundry. Only one nail had fallen off 10 days later—if this happens to you, you can just glue it back on.
Included Nails: 24 | Included Tools: Glue, file/buffer | Waterproof: Yes | Reusable: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"They look very natural and classy. The shape is great, and I was able to find the perfect size for each nail."—Vita Savenko, Product Tester
Best Budget: Dashing Diva MagicPress Solid Colors Press-On Nails
On a budget? Dashing Diva is a solid choice. The brand's MagicPress nails earned perfect scores in all our tests. They were super easy to apply. After cleaning your nail beds with the included prep pad, all you do is peel off the clear film from each nail to reveal the adhesive, then press down firmly.
Having said that, the glueless design means they aren't reusable. But considering the affordable price and fuss-free process, our tester was amazed by how good her nails looked, explaining that she'd actually prefer these press-ons to a salon manicure.
Included Nails: 30 | Included Tools: Prep pad, file, cuticle stick | Waterproof: Yes | Reusable: No
What Our Testers Say
"The adhesive is strong, and it doesn't feel like these will fall off my nail beds."—Jessica Lee, Product Tester
Best Designs: Paint Lab Press-On Nails
Unique nail art
Easy to apply
If you're a fan of nail art, you'll appreciate the designs from PaintLab. These press-on nails are decked with everything from fierce animal prints and retro color blocks to fruits, flames, and florals.
Our tester said they were very easy to apply, though once most of the claws were on, the length made attaching the rest a bit challenging. Still, they fused well to his nail beds and looked professional and seamless. While these press-ons aren't billed as waterproof, they held strong during a basic hand wash.
Included Nails: 24 | Included Tools: Glue, buffer/file, cuticle stick | Waterproof: No | Reusable: Yes
Best Reusable: Chillhouse Chill Tips Reusable Press-On Nails
Durable and waterproof
Lasts up to three weeks
Hard to remove
Visible glue through nail
Looking for a set you can use again and again? Chillhouse is your best bet. Though it was hard to avoid getting glue everywhere, we found these press-on nails fairly easy to apply. And while some glue was visible through the semi-transparent design, our tester was surprised by how good her nails looked in the end.
Boasting up to three weeks of wear, Chill Tips are durable too—almost too durable. No press-ons loosened upon getting them wet, and they were actually somewhat difficult to remove.
Included Nails: 24 | Included Tools: Glue, buffer/file, cuticle stick | Waterproof: Yes | Reusable: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"I was actually quite surprised by how good they did look. The only thing I didn't love was that you could see the glue a little through the nail."—Maia Magill, Product Tester
Best Customizable: Très She Sexting Press On Acrylic Nails
Thick and durable
Leaves nail beds brittle
Très She Instant Acrylics can be glued down or simply stuck on using the included adhesive stickers. Though the stickers will save you time in a pinch, our tester said the gluing process was easy and stress-free, drying quickly with minimal mess. (The instructions say you can use both together to maximize longevity.)
The individual nails are relatively long, but they're easily filed down with the included file. Our tester loved the translucent jelly aesthetic, noting that her nails looked professionally manicured. She also liked the thick, durable design, though this made the press-ons hard to remove and left her nail beds slightly brittle.
Included Nails: 24 | Included Tools: Prep pad, glue, buffer, file, cuticle stick, stickers | Waterproof: No | Reusable: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"They come with both nail stickers and nail glue, which is great to have the options. I did the nail glue and found the whole process to be quick and stress-free."—Rachel Lee, Contributing Writer
Best Kit: Olive & June Press-On System
Made of recycled materials
Durable and long-lasting
Glue is messy
Olive & June's Press-On System was also a hit in The Lab. This kit comes with 24 nails, a clipper, a file, a buffer, a cuticle pusher, cuticle serum and strengthener, and a removal kit, all within a carrying pouch. The glue is pretty messy, making it nearly impossible not to get it on your skin during the application process. Still, the nails attach without much fuss, and if one falls off, you can just reapply the glue and try again.
Our tester liked the overall design of these press-on nails and appreciated that they're made of 94% recycled materials. While they don't exactly look natural, that's not always the point with nails. They're flattering, fun, and last as long as you want them to.
Included Nails: 24 | Included Tools: Nail clipper, file, buffer, cuticle pusher, cuticle serum, nail strengthener, removal kit, carry pouch | Waterproof: Yes | Reusable: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"The design on the tips of the nails is pretty. They look sturdy with a nice sheen. I also love that these are made of 94% post-consumer recycled materials. Do they look real? Absolutely not, but who cares? They're fun!" —Ruby Grais, Product Tester
Overall, we liked the Static Nails Reusable Pop-On Manicure, a user-friendly, waterproof set that looks natural and holds up for nearly two weeks. But if you're on a budget, we recommend Dashing Diva MagicPress Nails, which are quick and easy to apply, thanks to the glueless design.
How We Tested
After researching today's top-rated, best-selling press-on nails, Byrdie editors selected 13 sets to try out first-hand in The Lab, our in-house product testing facility. Our testers read through the directions and applied the nails per the brands' guidelines, filing them down to size if needed.
Once they were attached, we performed a "sink test" to see how well the press-ons held up under warm soapy water. Each set was awarded a score from one to five for ease of application, adhesive strength, finished look, and nail integrity post-removal. The press-on nails with the highest overall scores were featured in this roundup.
Other Options We Tested
Ethereally Touched Press-On Nails
We're giving these press-ons honorable mention. They were easy to apply, fitting notably well on our tester's nail beds and leaving her with a salon-worthy finished appearance. But just a heads up, you'll have to buy nail glue separately.
Marmalade French Press-On Nails
There was a bit of a learning curve to applying these press-on nails, so they're not the most beginner-friendly. And while some of the glue showed through, they look more natural than other sets. We appreciate how durable these nails are, though it made them somewhat hard to remove and left our tester's nail beds weak and brittle.
Kiss Ribbons Gel Fantasy Nails
Our tester liked the mess-free glueless application of these press-on nails. However, the adhesive tabs weren't an exact fit, and there was no way to trim them down to size. And unfortunately, three nails had popped off just a half-day after applying them. Our tester wasn't a huge fan of the square shape, either, though this is a matter of personal preference.
Meet the Expert
- Chloe and Chenelle Delgadillo are a celebrity stylist duo. They have a partnership with Claire's called Styling Hands, which offers tips and advice for nail art and trendy hand embellishments.
What to Look for When Buying Press-On Nails
Press-on nails come in various shapes. This includes square, almond, coffin, natural-looking round tips, and claw-style points. The choice is ultimately a matter of personal preference, and if the shape or length isn't exactly what you like, you can always file it down.
When browsing sets, pay attention to the type of adhesive used. Press-on nails can be applied one of two ways: with nail glue or a peel-and-stick adhesive. While there are some exceptions, glue tends to be a little more durable, plus you can reattach the nails again and again. On the other hand, peel-and-stick nails are less messy, though they're often not reusable and may not last as long.
Press-on nails are available in virtually endless designs. From flames, florals, and French tips to swirls, sprinkles, and checks, there's something for everyone, every mood, and every outfit. Not only that, but the decals are often better-quality than what a manicurist can do by hand.
As Delgadillo notes, press-on nails give you the opportunity to play around with different colors and styles, switching them out as often as every day. With this in mind, it can be fun to choose a set with chic nail art or a trendy design.
What are press-on nails?
Press-on nails are a type of faux fingernail you can apply right at home. As the name suggests, they're meant to be pressed onto the natural nail bed, attaching either with glue or a peel-and-stick adhesive. They come in various designs, colors, and shapes, allowing you to bypass painting your nails and potentially even filing them.
How do you apply press-on nails?
Start with clean, polish-free nail beds, then remove any oily residues with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. Once you have the proper sizes picked out for each finger, coat one nail bed at a time with glue. Then align the fake nail and press it down firmly, holding for about 20 seconds. (For peel-and-stick nails, just peel off the backing, then press it on.) Repeat on each remaining nail.
How long do press-on nails last?
Depending on the adhesive, press-on nails last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Waterproof glue-down nails tend to hold up slightly longer than peel-and-stick nails. And if any of the nails fall off, you can just reattach them with another coat of glue.
What Is Byrdie Verified?
Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.
Why Trust Byrdie
Theresa Holland is a commerce writer and product reviewer specializing in beauty and lifestyle. A big proponent of DIY manicures, she has tried products from Olive & June, Chillhouse, PaintLab, and Kiss. She has been contributing to Byrdie since 2020, where she covers nail polish, grooming tools, makeup, and skincare. You can find more of her writing on People, Travel + Leisure, and MyDomaine.