How to apply and remove fake nails

September 17, 2014

Beautiful nails don’t have to come naturally. In fact, fake nails are a great way to disguise weak, damaged or broken nails. Now you can have the manicure you always dreamed of. If you’re new to applying fake nails, try one of the simpler press-on kits.

How to apply and remove fake nails


First, sort through the available shapes and select one to fit each of your nails. You may need to use a nail file to shape them for fit. Wipe off any dust from the nail.

Prepare your own nails by wiping any polish or oils off with nail polish remover. Clip and file your nails close to the fingertip. Push the cuticles back and buff the top of your nail bed slightly. Fake nails will adhere better to a slightly rough surface. Don’t apply cuticle oil, as that will interfere with the adhesive. Make sure hands and nails are completely dry.

You’re ready to apply. Here are some more details on how to apply fake nails:


  1. Apply to your dominant hand first – if you’re right handed, apply to your right hand as fake nails can impede your precision with your less-dominant hand.
  2. Add a small dot of glue to the base of your nail and small dot to the underside of the fake nail, around the middle. When these two are pressed together, you will have glue holding the nail in two areas. Make sure the nail is straight, then press and hold in position for at least 10 seconds. Gently use a cotton swab to wipe any glue that has escaped from underneath the nail. Try not to bump or tap your nail as you proceed.
  3. For sticky tabs, peel away the backing and press onto your nail. Hold for 10 seconds. Sticky tabs will hold more immediately than glue.

If you get nail glue on your fingers, don’t worry. Soak skin in warm soapy water. If this doesn't work, wet a cotton ball or cotton swab with acetone-based nail polish remover and soak the area until glue wipes clean.

Remember to replace the glue cap and store upright so it doesn’t dry out.


  1. Soak each nail for a few minutes in acetone-based nail polish remover. Using a manicure stick, pry it off your nail bed. Use a nail buffer to remove any leftover adhesive residue. Fake nails cannot be used again, so you can throw them away.
  2. Most people, especially those with sensitive skin, find acetone to be very drying. Wash your hands well after removing nails and apply a hand cream or moisturizer, paying special attention to the nail beds and cuticles. Continue with moisturizer twice a day until nails return to normal.

Once you learn how to apply fake nails, you can just fake it anytime for fun.

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