Oil, whether it comes from your skin or the cream you use to push back cuticles, is a fake nail’s worst enemy. So — and I know this is going to sound weird coming from a beauty magazine — you need to dehydrate your nail beds. “Use alcohol to wipe, dust, and cleanse nail beds,” Edwards advises. Miss Pop does the same thing with a quick swipe of nail polish remover. If you really want to get professional, you can even buy a bottle of alcohol-based nail cleanser like Gelish Nail Surface Cleanse or Le Mini Macaron Le Clean Nail Cleanser.
How to apply fake nails with adhesive tabs
Chances are, any fake nail pack you purchase will come with glue or double-sided adhesive tabs (or both). Picking the right one for you completely depends on why you’re using fake nails in the first place. If your goal is to be able to change your manicure at the drop of a hat, follow Park’s advice. “I use press-ons for matching nails to my style for everyday use, like choosing an outfit,” she says. “I always use double-sided tapes. The tapes I use last for about seven hours without any problem.”
Miss Pop likes tapes too, because they leave more time for experimentation. “I have no patience for soaking off nails on myself,” she says. “And I love to switch it up.”
Though you can apply the adhesive tab to the back of the fake nail before pressing it onto your natural nail, Edwards prefers applying it directly to the natural nail instead because “you can see any imperfection when you apply the tabs versus applying to the tip.”
The most challenging part of applying fake nails with adhesive tabs, Edwards continues, is selecting the right size adhesive tab for each finger. “You should leave a small open margin around the tab, exposing a bit of your nail plate,” she explains. When the correct size tab is applied directly to your nail, the perimeter of space around the tab should look like a picture frame. “The tab should not come close to the cuticle groove, which will promote lifting right away,” she says. “The idea is to create a suction seal.”
How to apply fake nails with glue
Those of us who aren’t working on runways and photoshoots generally need nails with more lasting power, though, and that’s where glue comes in. According to Edwards, fake nails that are glued on can last up to two weeks — that is, if you size, prep, and glue them on properly. If you want to get really technical with your gluing process, use a glue that has a brush applicator like Miss Pop does for the most even and precise placement possible (Kiss, Olive & June, and Glamnetic all make one).
Even if you prefer to use a fake nail pack’s complimentary glue tube, you can still use Miss Pop’s go-to gluing method. Rather than smacking a dollop of glue directly onto the nail, she paints glue onto the back side of the fake nail. “Leave a little [space] on the sides bare, so the glue can set and spread without attaching to your skin,” she advises. “Wait for the glue to air-dry a bit and get tacky — just a handful of seconds.” Once the glue reaches that sticky sweet spot, she lines the nail up with the tip of the natural nail and presses it down “like a see-saw from the free edge.” It’s not a dissimilar process to applying false eyelashes.
How to make fake nails last longer
If you’re trying to have your fake nails last for a week or longer, the best thing you can do is to avoid getting your hands wet when you can, according to Miss Pop. You can’t always avoid washing your hands, but if you need to do the dishes or wash your hair, she recommends wearing gloves while you do it (that is if you’re willing to go to extremes for a long-lasting press-on manicure). And, obviously, put your cuticle oil away — it’ll break down the glue.
How to remove fake nails
The fake nail removal process ultimately depends on whether you used nail tapes versus glue. Nail tapes are easier to remove and only require a warm water soak, nail oil, and a gentle tug. In fact, Miss Pop says she usually takes hers off after a long shower. “Don’t try to rip them off side to side; it can hurt,” she warns. Instead, she says to pull the nail down and outward.