11 Best Ways To Remove Press-On Nails Safely

Easy ways to take the press-ons off, minus the hassle and a trip to the salon

Reviewed by Simone de Vlaming, Beauty Expert Simone de Vlaming Simone de VlamingBeauty Expert facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature) Shalini Roy MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Comparative Literature) Vaishali Sinha MA (Comparative Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
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While press-on nails are fun to flaunt, getting rid of them can be a task. It is important to know exactly how to remove press-on nails, as improper removal can thin out and split your real nails. Moreover, the false press-on nails are applied to the cuticlei  A layer of clear dead skin found on the bottom of the nails of fingers or toes to protect them from bacteria. (the skin at the end of the nail), so if you rip them off without treating them properly, it can damage your natural nails. However, fret not! This article lists 11 ways to remove press-on nails easily and safely. Read on.

protip_icon Keep In Mind
  • Basic Equipment: Cotton balls, nail glue remover, nail clipper, orange stick, olive oil.
  • Hydration: Remember to moisturize your nails, either with oils or special nail/cuticle nourishing products.
  • Precaution: Always be gentle while removing the press-on nails and never use sharp objects to remove them.

How Do Press-On Nails Work?

Press-on nails are generally made of gel nails made of gel polish, acrylic, or other hard substances, glued onto the fingers with nail adhesives. They work by using an adhesive activated by air, so all you need to do is press them on. Ensure you buy the same brand, so they fit well. Peel-off the top layer of paper, and gently press it down onto your natural nail until you hear a click.

It is best to use a nail file to push back the cuticles and clean up the skin around your natural nails before applying press-on nails. Also, make sure your nails are clean. Remove all dirt and oil before applying press-on nails. The good thing about these fake nails is they are peelable and can be easily done without a nail polish remover. Also, since they are very thin, you can easily file them off.

These nails are made from a special plastic resin that makes them easy to wear and remove. So, when you need them off for some reason, like if they break or get too dirty (which can happen more frequently than you might think), follow the methods in our next section to learn about how to remove press on nails with ease.

11 Ways To Remove Press-On Nails

1. Use Cotton Balls

Use Cotton Balls
One of the most difficult things about removing press-on nails is ensuring the base coat has been fully soaked so that it can detach from the natural nail. One trick is to cut a cotton ball into thirds, soak them in acetone, and wrap them around each nail with tin foil. The sharp tip will keep your fingers out of trouble, and the acetone will work its magic while you go about your day.

Note: You don’t have to soak your nails in acetone for a long period of time as it is only a way to loosen up the glue of the press-on nails and this shouldn’t take too long.

2. Use Nail Glue Remover

Use Nail Glue Remover

Clean the glue on your natural nail with some cotton balls soaked in acetone. Apply adhesive tape on the glued parts and wait for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take off the tape and soak the nails in acetone to remove adhesive residue. This method is easy and convenient. However, it can damage your nails if not done the right way.

protip_icon Quick Tip

Always pull the nails off slowly. Pulling a press-on off too quickly may cause damage to your nails.


3. Use A Nail Clipper

Use A Nail Clipper

This method may sound crazy, but it works well if your nails are not too thick. Cut off as much of the glue as you can and use a nail file to remove any leftovers. Finish by removing the glue residue with an alcohol swab.

4. Buff Your Nails

Buff Your Nails

This is the fastest way to remove press-on nails, but be careful not to damage your nails. While taking off the nail polish, use a nail file to gently rub down the top layer of your natural fingernails to remove excess glue and make them even.

5. Try A Nail Drill Machine (Optional)

Try A Nail Drill Machine

Generally, press-on nails do not require filing, and nail drilling is suitable for removing acrylic nails. However, if your fake nails are studded with rhinestones, crystals, or other 3D accents, filing them with nail drills may make the removal process easier. However, it’s best not to try nail drilling at-home as it might damage your natural nails, and consult a nail technician before trying.

6. Use Olive Oil

Use Olive Oil

Olive oil is great for removing glue residue from natural nails without irritating your skin or fingers. Soak-off some cotton balls in olive oil and secure each nail with one. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Lift your press-on nails from the nail beds using a gentle rocking motion.

7. Use An Orange Stick

Use An Orange Stick

Use a pair of tweezers to pull each fake nail away from the sides of your fingernails. Then, gently push them out using an orange stick. When you are done, use an alcohol swab to remove the glue residue. Be careful and don’t pull too hard or too quickly as this can damage your natural nails.

8. Use Soap And Water

Use Soap And Water

Fill a bowl with warm water and add a bit of liquid dishwashing soap. Hold each fake nail down in soapy water for 5 to 10 seconds. Slide them off carefully, along with any leftover glue residue. Finish up by washing your natural nails in soap water to remove traces of solvent.

Nikea JaLynn, a beauty vlogger, shares her way of removing press-on nails without much fuss or having to visit a salon. The things that she needs are a big bowl to soak your fingers in, warm water, a cuticle pusher, a nail file, and a nail strengthener. She says, “I am going to soak my nails in the warm water for a few minutes. This is gonna help loosen up the glue as well as the nail tabs.” After removing the nails, she continues, “And also, you want to continue soaking your nails cause you want to get the residue off the tabs (i).”

protip_icon Quick Tip
You may rock the nails back and forth slightly while they are soaking in the soapy water. It may help to get some water to the adhesive and loosen it quickly.

9. Use Baking Soda

Use Baking Soda
Mix two parts baking soda and one part water until it takes the shape of thick cream. Rub this cream on your artificial nails with an orange stick and wait for five minutes. Let the cream soak into glue residue. Slide off each press-on nail with glue residue. Wash your natural nails with soap and water to remove any trace of residue.

10. Use Cuticle Oil

Manicurist applying nourishing cuticle oil on a woman’s hands
Image: Shutterstock

Gently lift the edges of the press-ons with a cute cuticle stick. Add a few drops of cuticle oil underneath and along the edges of the nails. Take a moment to let it soak in. Then gently and carefully peel the press-ons off to avoid any damage. The cuticle oil not only makes removal a cinch but also pampers your nails and skin, leaving them well-hydrated and fab. Finish by washing your hands to remove any remaining oil and adhesive residue, revealing natural, well-cared-for nails.

11. Visit A Nearby Salon

Visit a salon to get press-on nails removed
Image: Shutterstock

Press-on nail removal does not require a salon visit. However, if you are a beginner and unsure about the process or if you have nails with 3D accents and stones, you may visit a nearby salon and consult the nail experts. They will guide you on the right way to remove the fake nails safely without damaging the nail plate.

Infographic: How To Remove Press-On Nails

Often, people forget to take care of their nails. Considering the nails’ exposure to chemicals, it is essential to be attentive to their health. They need more care, especially when you get those press-ons, because the extensions can cause harm to them.

Check out this infographic to learn about caring for your nails after removing press-ons.

how to remove press-on nails (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Press-on nails are easy enough to press onto your real nails. It is a clean and hassle-free process once you get the hang of it. But how to remove press-on nails can be a real challenge. Maintaining healthy nails is important however, visiting a professional manicurist for a regular manicure can be quite expensive. That’s where DIY manicures come in handy. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can achieve salon-quality nails at home without breaking the bank. If you are not careful enough, you might break your nails or injure the cuticles and surrounding area. It does not sound pleasant, but thankfully there are many ways to get them off. This article has detailed some convenient ways to remove press-on nails without the headache. Give them a try, and you will see there is no need to stress over them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you keep press-on nails on?

You can keep on press-on nails for as long as they last, which is typically between 10 days and 2 weeks. However, if you want to remove them soon after getting them, you should wait out at least a day or two to prevent nail damage from forceful removal.

Do press-on nails damage your nails?

Press-on nails generally do not damage the nails as they do not require any filing and the glue used is mild in nature. However, if you try to pull them off too hard or quickly, that might damage the nails.

Will press-on nails fall off in the shower?

Press-on nails generally do not fall off in the shower. However, you should keep it short and avoid using hot water on the nails as that can weaken the glue.

Can you reuse press-on nails?

Yes, you may be able to reuse press-on nails if you are careful not to damage them while taking them off. You can use nail glue or nail tabs to put them back again. However, the glue may buildup on your nails after a few uses and make it challenging to keep the faux nails well attached.

Key Takeaways

  • Improper removal of press-on nails may thin out or damage the real nails.
  • Press-on nails are glued to the nail bed and hence, require soaking them in acetone-based glue removers.
  • You can use olive oil to remove glue residue or clip the nails to make the process easier.

Here are some quick and easy steps to help you get your natural nails back. Watch this video to learn how to remove press-on nails without soap or oil!

Personal Experience: Source

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Simone de Vlaming

Simone de VlamingBeauty Expert

Simone de Vlaming is a beauty expert and founder of Beautymone.com. She specializes in makeup, skin care, fragrances, and nails. Simone decided to start a beauty blog during her graduation to find an outlet for her passion.

Read full bio of Simone de Vlaming