Getting a professional manicure for every wedding invite can quickly become expensive. Not to mention a little boring — will it be Essie’s Ballet Slippers or Funny Bunny this time? That’s why I’ve recently been obsessed with using press-on nails as a wedding guest. They are more affordable, come in Insta-worthy designs, and give my nails the length that I never could naturally reach.
“We’re seeing people gravitate toward press-ons because they give that hand-painted, salon-mani look in minutes,” says Olivia Van Iderstine, Mani Trend Expert and VP of Content and Creative at nail care brand Olive & June. “With a perfect, super shiny finish, they give an illusion of an acrylic or gel mani that usually takes hours — and comes with a price tag to match.”
Meet the Expert
- Olivia Van Iderstine is the Mani Trend Expert and VP of Content and Creative at nail care brand Olive & June.
- Braelinn Frank is the founder of Rave Nailz. Frank started the brand in 2019 from her obsession with nail art and creating one-of-a-kind designs based on whatever rave she was attending that weekend.
Having experimented with press-ons for the past two years, I can confirm that not all designs are created equal. Some fall off in a matter of days while others simply look cheap. So with the help of nail experts and my own experience, I compiled the best press-on brands that offer styles in a wide range of shapes and sizes, look realistic, and are easy enough to use, you can apply them in the last minute and have them on for weeks. Static Nails naturally won the Best Overall spot thanks to its variety of modern French tips, nudes, and pinks that are perfect for wedding festivities.
Whether you are looking for a classy choice as a bridesmaid or a bold set for the bachelorette party, these are the best press-ons to rake in the compliments.
Thanks to celebrities like Hailey Bieber, milky nude nails are all the rage and are ideal for weddings, where you want your nails to look elegant. Offering a range of nudes, pinks, and French tips, Static Nails has the best selection of bridal press-ons. The simple designs feel modern thanks to subtle nail art, chrome finishes, and a variety of shapes, including long coffins and almond. I usually don’t go for French tips but I loved how the Mademoiselle is an ombre take on the classic, so I chose it as a sample. Each set comes with 24 nails in 12 different sizes, which as someone with smaller nail beds, makes it easier to find the right match.
I put these on before a trip to Las Vegas and despite spending hours soaking in the pool, none of them popped off. The reusable nails are made to last 18 days and you can always re-glue a nail in case one does fall off. Another thing that sets these press-ons apart is that they are opaque. I’ve tried other brands where nude press-ons are slightly see-through and this can lead to inconsistentcy. With Static Nails, you have that flawless, milky, glazed donut finish.
Kiss Nails is my go-to drugstore brand for press-on nails. They have a wide selection of styles, from timeless nudes to embellished coffins. Thanks to the affordable price, I don’t mind stocking up on several pairs and experimenting with more eccentric designs. The quality is just as good as pricer press-ons. Every set comes with everything you need to apply and extra nails, so you can use them more than once. They’ve lasted me for months at a time, so you don’t have to worry about losing a nail mid-reception.
The biggest downside of press-ons is that they come in pre-set sizes, so you may struggle to find an exact fit for your finger nails. Color Camp to the rescue! When you order a set from the brand, they first mail you a try-on kit to find your ideal size for each nail. After you send back your sizes and preferred length (short, medium, or long), they will make you custom-sized set.
Besides getting perfectly sized press-ons, you get to splurge on unique designs that truly look like you just visited your favorite nail tech. Think pearl studs and swirly nail art. Since I rarely get creative designs at the salon, I sampled the Ceramic, which features thin black and gold lines over a brown base.
The thickness and shape of each nail felt very realistic, as if I had gotten several layers of gel. Because they were customized, they weren’t too long or bulky either, which can happen with some press-ons. In other words, I didn’t have to relearn how to type or use my phone. The only con is that all the sets have rounded tips, so if you are trying to bring square nails back, you may need to go with another brand.
Another advantage of press-ons is that you can fix and update your nails even while traveling, which you can’t necessarily do when you chip your gel manicure on the bachelorette weekend. This kit from Olive & June makes it extra easy. In addition to a set of press-ons of your choosing, you get nail tools, cuticle cream, a nail strengthener, and a removal kit so you can easily take them off when the party is over. A carry-all pouch keeps it altogether. TSA won’t find any random nails in suitcases here.
Olive & June makes fun press-ons from recycled materials in various shapes and sizes. Each set contains 42 nails in 21 sizes, so you likely can get several sets from a single pack. I got the Twisted French during a Target run and received so many compliments. Sure, they looked a little too perfect to be true, but when it’s a special occasion, I don’t mind.
If you are looking for some kitschy nails for a bachelorette weekend, check out Paint Lab. From avocado to flames, they have the designs to match the festive vibes. Each set comes with 24 nails and the glue, file, and cuticle stick to help during application. Do note that the press-ons only come in one length, which is somewhat long. Be ready to bring on the drama.
What to Look for In Press-On Nails
Most brands offer press-ons in a variety of shapes, ranging from round to square to almond. You can go with your go-to nail shape or change it up, especially if you are wearing press-ons for a special occasion. Braelinn Frank, founder of Rave Nailz, recommends long, pointy nails, like Mademoiselle Coffin Reusable Pop-On Manicure, for photos. “The narrow tip elongates anyone’s fingers, making them look gorgeous,” says Frank.
Again, you want to think about your nail preferences and the look you are going for. If you usually usually keep your nails short, upgrading to long press-ons can feel awkward as you type and do daily tasks. For those that prefer shorter nails, check out Olive & June’s wide selection of short press-ons. But if you plan to wear the press-ons for only a few days, like for a destination wedding or bach weekend, the extra length in a style like Kiss’ Long Press-Ons, might not be an issue.
You can’t go wrong with pale pinks, nudes, and French tips for a wedding. But as a wedding guest, you can experiment with nail art and different finishes, like this chrome design from Color Camp. If you really want to make a statement, check out Paint Lab’s eccentric designs. The beauty of press-ons is that each nail can have unique details without the up-charge you get at a salon.
Both our experts agree that press-on nails are a safe way to instantly change up your look without the high price tag. Plus, you avoid the UV exposure that comes with getting a gel manicure. The only way that press-ons can damage your nails is if you remove them improperly, according to Iderstine, so follow our directions below.
The best way to apply press-ons is to really prep your nails well. “Press-ons will stick the best to a smooth, clean nail plate, so ensure you push your cuticles back and give your nail plate a quick gentle buff so that you can have strong adhesion between the nail plate and the press-on,” says Iderstine.
I’ve found that it’s equally important to pick the right size press-on for each nail. If the press-on is too big, it can pop off and if it’s too small, it will look noticeably fake. I first go through the set and match up each nail with the correct size. Then I’m ready to glue them on.
“Apply a thin, even layer of glue all over your natural nail and the press-on before gently sliding it on. Gently press down across the surface of your natural nail to ensure there are no air bubbles,” says Iderstine. “Lastly, we recommend you avoid water one hour before application, as it can cause nails to pop off early.”
You never want to force press-ons off. The glue will eventually start to loosen on it’s own after a couple of weeks. To help speed up the process, you can use Olive & June’s Remover Solution or soak your nails in water.
“Soak your fingertips in warm soapy water with a dash of oil for 15 minutes. Then gently pull the nails up from the edges,” says Frank. “I like to keep a bottle of body oil in the shower and do this at the end of a long hot shower.”
Why Trust Brides
Emily Cieslak is an assistant commerce editor and writes about all things beauty. After getting regular gel manicures for years, she started experimenting with press-ons during the pandemic and has never looked back. She’s tried everything from drugstore brands to customized sets. For this article, she interviewed Olivia Van Iderstine, Mani Trend Expert and VP of Content and Creative at nail care brand Olive & June. She also spoke to Braelinn Frank, founder of Rave Nailz.