A collage of a woman taking a selfie and her red and silver press-on nails
Photos courtesy of Yasmine Singh

I Tried Press-On Nails As An Adult, & Things Have Changed Since The '80s

by Yasmine Singh

Before motherhood, self-care for me was a day at the spa or getting a mani/pedi. So, naturally when I seemed to be running on fumes at about two months postpartum, my husband practically pushed me out of the door for manicure. But getting my nails done felt like a chore. I returned home even more tired, behind on chores, and engorged from skipping a pumping session. Honestly, I could have used a nap and a long shower, things I took for granted beforehand. A few days later my manicure began chipping away because now that I was a mom, I washed more dishes than ever before and was constantly washing my hands.

Going to the nail salon seemed pointless. I couldn't keep up with regular appointments and my manicures no longer lasted as long as they used to. Eventually I just gave up altogether.

Enter press-on nails. About a year ago, I came across an ad on Instagram. My first thought was Kimmy Gibbler. On an episode of Full House, she wore them to prom and by the end of the night all of her nails had fallen off and attached to her date's suit. Press-on nails, from what I remembered, were flimsy, fell off easily, and were nothing like salon nails. But when I came across imPRESS manicure press-on artificial nails, they looked nothing like the ones I had seen in the past. I was curious and I started following them on Instagram but I was still a bit skeptical. I entered a giveaway and actually won, which was probably the only way I would've ever tried them.

Photos courtesy of Yasmine Singh

Impress nails claims its secret is a patented super-hold adhesive that is waterproof and lasts as long as as a week. They're supposed to be gentle on your natural nails and easy to apply and remove. It sounded too good to be true, but again, I was desperate. And really hoped they would deliver. When I received the nails (which cost around $8), I tried them out and have been hooked ever since. Here's a breakdown.

What the kit comes with:

In the box there are 30 nails in various sizes, a prep pad, a mini nail file, and a stick designed to push your cuticles back and also to help remove the nails later on.

How to apply:

Step 1: Choose the right press-on nail that fits best with each finger. Push back cuticles if necessary.

Step 2: Clean your nails using the prep pad.

Step 3: Peel the back each of the the press on nails one by one and apply them to your natural nails. Press down firmly on each nail when applying. It's suggested that you leave the thumbs for last since you need to use them to peel back the tabs.

Step 4: If you want to file the nails down so that they are your desired length, you can after one hour of applying the nails, using the nail file included. And that's it. You're all done.


The pros of artificial nails:

There are a lot of pros when using these nails. They're inexpensive, easy to find at local stores and online, and easy to apply and remove. Best of all, there's no mom-guilt for stepping away and I don't fall behind on chores, work, or errands like I used to when I went to a nail salon. I can do it on my time, only when I need them, and I can switch them up as often as I'd like.

The cons of artificial nails:

Of course, press-on nails are not perfect. Although they're described as waterproof, I felt as though they didn't last as long or had a higher chance of peeling off if I wasn't careful especially with water. I wore gloves while doing the dishes and tried to limit exposure to water. That alone kept the nails put for the most part and I have rarely had a problem. With some care they can last a week, but acrylic nails or a gel manicure can definitely last longer.

Photo courtesy of Yasmine Singh

Another drawback is the limited number of styles. Nails shapes, designs, and lengths have become more creative, but these press-on nails are mostly short and square (you can sometimes find round nails, in limited styles). If you're looking for the latest trends or something more unique, you may find their options to be too limited.

Press-on nails are very different from long ago, but they're not perfect. For now, its a great option for me since I have a hard time getting a chance to go to the nail salon. I love that I can do my nails in five minutes whenever I find time or have an important event to attend without spending a lot of money or having to make an appointment. They do require some extra care, which is a drawback, but I would rather have this option than none at all.