We don’t know about you, but as beauty lovers planning out our vacation, a manicure is just as important as choosing what outfits we’ll wear. No one wants a chipped manicure, especially on vacation, but if you don’t have the time or money to get a professional gel manicure, press-on nails are a quick and affordable option.
And if you haven’t been sure whether they fit your personality, a vacation is the perfect time to try them out, when you’re guaranteed not to run into anyone you know, and are less likely to break them off doing the dishes.
With press-ons, you don’t have to wait for your nails to dry or worry about smudging, and you don’t even have to be a nail artist to have a French manicure or an elaborate design — simply pop them on and you’re good to go. If you don’t have time to do your nails before leaving for your trip, just pack your press-ons and apply them while you’re on the plane or checked into your hotel. It only takes a few minutes (once you’ve figured out your sizes).
As far as wear time goes, press-ons can last anywhere from a few days to more than a week depending on how you prep your nails beforehand and apply the press-ons. Working with a clean nail surface that’s free of excess oils is ideal (a swipe with an alcohol prep pad should do the trick), as is choosing appropriate sizes for the fake nails (not too big or too small). If you’re new to press-ons, note that while long nails can look and feel super glamorous, if you aren’t used to having them you may find everyday activities like putting on shoes or contacts a little more challenging than usual. As a general rule of thumb, shorter press-ons that are closer to the length of your natural nail tend to stay on longer, as more of the press-on is bonded to something solid.
We recommend having glue or adhesive tabs and additional nails on hand (throw them in your purse!) if any pop off. If possible, try to avoid washing your hands immediately before or after applying press-ons — once water gets between the press-ons and your natural nail, the bond is weakened. While a swim in the pool or a shower shouldn’t make your press-ons fall off, if you can prevent soaking your nails in water for an extended period of time, you’ll prolong the wear time of your press-ons.
Whether you’re looking for a simple solid color, a negative space design or something covered in rhinestones, there’s a press-on set out there for you. To help you get started on your search, we’ve rounded up some great options below.
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Olive & June short round CCT gradient press-ons
Promising the “realest-looking fake nails you’ve ever seen,” each package of press-ons from Olive & June includes 42 nails in 21 sizes to help ensure the best fit. They’re made from 94% post-consumer recycled materials and come with everything you need for application, including an alcohol prep pad, 2-in-1 file and buffer, wooden cuticle pusher and non-damaging glue. The gradient design features a crisp white that fades into a sheer pink — subtle and chic.
Olive & June long almond twisted French press-ons
We’re getting serious main character energy from these long almond-shaped nails with a funky twist on a classic French manicure. Don’t be surprised if wearing these makes you speak with your hands more than usual. The twisted French press-ons pair well with a croissant or poolside piña colada.
Glamnetic rainbow buff press-on nails
These medium almond press-ons have a neutral pink base with a colorful swirled design. This nail art combines two trends — Skittle manicures and negative space nail art — and costs a fraction of what you’d pay at the salon for a similar look. Each pack includes 30 reusable press-on nails that are said to last up to three weeks.
Glamnetic wavy blues press-on nails
Another medium almond design from Glamnetic, this negative space manicure is semi-transparent and features swirls in various shades of blue that reminds us of the ocean. This set is perfect for a beach vacation, plus it’s waterproof, so they’ll stay on through dips in hot tubs and the ocean.
Kiss rainbow rings gel fantasy nails
Unicorns might not be real, but these press-on nails look like they came straight from an enchanted forest. Each 28-pack of long coffin nails contains a mix of light purple, iridescent and chunky glitter nails for a customizable look. It looks like a gel manicure, but doesn’t require an LED light.
Kiss My Crown majestic nail kit
Go all-out with this bejeweled press-on mani featuring a sparkly gold base and three-dimensional rhinestones. They can be worn up to three times and come with press-on tabs and nail glue. If you’re planning on reusing these nails, the brand recommends using the sticker tabs for the first two uses and the nail glue for the final wear.
Static Nails velvet pink round reusable pop-on manicure
For a more soft, subtle look, check out these velvety pink press-ons. Each set comes with 24 nails in 12 sizes, non-damaging glue, a buffer and instructions. The company claims that the nails are reusable and can last for up to 18 days. You can even reshape or paint over them to make them your own.
Static Nails reverse French pink square reusable pop-on manicure
You don’t need to be a talented manicurist to get this trendy design on your nails; just glue on these reverse French square nails and you’re good to go. They might cost more than an average bottle of nail polish, but if you don’t have a steady hand and lots of practice with freehand nail art, this is a simple shortcut.
Kiss ImPress Color in Frosting
For a classic white vacation mani, this glue-free set from Kiss ImPress is a no-brainer. If you’ve painted with white nail polish before, you’ll know that it’s notoriously tricky to get even, streak-free coats. These nails are ready to wear, and no painting skills or drying time are required for a perfect manicure.
Kiss ImPress Color in Reddy or Not
You can’t go wrong with a classic red manicure, and unlike red nail polish these press-ons won’t stain your cuticles and fingers when it’s time to take them off. Application takes just a few minutes, and you don’t even have to mess around with nail glue — just peel off the tabs to reveal the adhesive on the back of each nail and press on.