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Is it just us or is there something so impressive about someone who can paint her own nails? If you’re in our boat and mastering the art of self-polishing remains on your beauty bucket list, we’d like to introduce you to press-on nails.
No, we’re not talking about those tacky, square, French manicured things you coveted in middle school. This is one category that has come quite a long way, with more options out there than ever before. We’re talking all types of lengths, shapes, colors, designs, and styles, from subdued nudes to bold nail art. Plus, like a gel manicure there’s no need to worry about the potential for chips, but unlike a gel manicure, there’s no extensive removal process required. And best of all? The application process couldn’t be easier.
Check out our picks of the best press-on nails, here.
Best Overall: Static Nails
Take your pick from over 60 different packs, available in a wide array of lengths, effects, colors, and coverage. Want a long, almond-shaped chrome mani? They have that. Prefer round, matte, and nude? They’ve got that, too. You get the picture. (The website also makes it easy to filter out and find your favorite choices.) Each set comes with 24 nails in 10 different sizes, plus a non-damaging glue, file, and buffer. Also nice: These can be removed, then reapplied, and even re-shaped and re-painted.
Best Custom: ManiMe
If you want to make sure your faux nails fit absolutely perfectly, this personalized option is choice. First, you take five photos of your hand; the brand uses that 3D scan to create a press-on mani that’s custom fit precisely to your nails and your nails only. You get to choose from a variety of colors and chic nail art options, then receive your custom set of gel stick-ons in the mail. Bonus points for the easy, no-glue needed application and even easier removal; they peel right off after a few minutes of soaking in warm water.
Best Budget: Kiss Gel Fantasy Nails
One pack of these (which comes with either 24 or 28 nails) rings at less than a manicure at the salon. You can also pick from all different lengths and shapes, as well as polish shades and even nail art. They can be applied either with the included adhesive tabs or glue, and happy reviewers repeatedly comment on how long they last, up to two or even three weeks.
Best Strips: Color Street
Those who don’t love the feel of anything on top of their nail will appreciate that these polish strips essentially feel like nothing. Each one has a base, color, and top coat built into it, and is super flexible so that you can stretch it to fit each nail exactly. They make for a manicure that’s an almost exact salon dupe (minus the drying time needed or risk of smears involved) and lasts up to10 days. There’s also a crazy selection of colors and designs to choose from, and pedicure strips, too.
Best for a Natural Mani: Dashing Diva Magic Press Press On in Buffy
Press-on nails may seem more appropriate for those who love nail art than those who heart clean and simple nude nails, but even the latter will appreciate these. The glossy nude shade is universally-flattering and the length customizable, making for the perfect, barely-there mani. There’s also no glue required, so you can pop these in on seconds, literally.
Best Range of Finishes: Marmalade
Sure, you can go with a more standard glossy or matte shades, but this brand earns big points for offering an array of other options. We’re talking sheer jelly colors, multi-dimensional iridescent hues, and high shine chromes. There are also accent nails boasting real Swarovski crystals, and unique nail art picks as well.
Best Fast Fix: imPRESS Press-On Manicure
You know all those times when you’re on your way somewhere and you look down and think, “I really should have gotten a manicure”? That’s when these come up huge. All you have to do is swipe your nails with the included prep pad and press these on—it couldn’t be simpler. They’re admittedly not the longest lasting of the bunch, with a lifespan that lasts just a day or two, but the upshot of that is that they do peel off easily. And with such a wallet-friendly price tag, they’re great to have on-hand as emergency mani back-up.
Best Splurge: The Nailest Handmade Set
True to the name, these sets are all, well, handmade. (Keep in mind you may need to wait a few weeks to get them.) The high-quality option ranges from $20 for a solid color up to $118 for a statement-making, entirely Swarovski-encrusted set; nail art fans will also appreciate the fun design options available. You get to pick from 11 shapes and four sizes—a size chart helps you determine which is the best fit for you—and if you’re careful during the removal process, these can also be reused.
If you’re all about statement-making manis that wow, this is the brand for you. There are both solid colors (in a wide range of shades) as well as a variety of different finishes available, all of which come in nine varying shapes and lengths. This includes plenty of more dramatic options, think a long stiletto shape and extra, extra long square shape. They also come in small, medium, and large sizes, plus a custom size option. All are made using vegan gel polishes and feature recyclable packaging, and can be reused several times.