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Manicures either seem to be too temporary, chipping the first time you fish your keys out of your bag, or too permanent—some epic gel polishes take weeks to fully come off. The Goldilocks of manicures might be at your drugstore. Press-on nails have become a staple at New York Fashion Week when models need to wear dramatic polish and change looks multiple times a day.
At Phillip Lim’s show, celebrity manicurist Madeline Poole created intricate striped looks with metallic tape applied over a warm brown polish, which was meant to “evoke the stripes on a varsity jacket,” Poole explained.
There was no time backstage to paint the designs and wait for polish to dry, so Poole and her team painted sets of faux nails in advance so they could stick them on the day of the show.
Immediate gratification is only one of the perks of the stick-on nails. Poole suggests wearing fake nails to test drive nail art or being able to quickly change from a more adventurous look to one more suitable for a job interview. Here are Poole’s expert tips (yes, that’s a pun) for wearing press-on nails so you don’t destroy your real nails.
- Use fashion tape as an adhesive.
The adhesive tape that comes with the press-on nails is surprisingly strong and will last a couple days. So if you want to wear the nails for just a couple hours, Poole recommends using fashion tape instead. (This is the double-sided tape celebs wear on the red carpet to prevent a wardrobe malfunction.) At the Lim show, Poole and her team used Hollywood Fashion Tape for an adhesive that was firm but not too strong.
- Apply a base coat to save your real nails.
If you’re going for a more temporary look and don’t want to damage your real nails, Poole recommends applying either a thick layer of base coat or Elmer’s glue before applying tape or stickers, which will create a protective coating and ensure that your real nails are none the worse for wear when it’s time for the falsies to come off.
- Remove any oils or lotions from your nail bed.
If you’re looking to wear your nails more than one day, make sure that your nails are a bit dehydrated before applying adhesive, as even the slightest bit of oil or leftover lotion can cause adhesive to lose its grip. Use nail polish remover to make sure your nail bed is clean and prepped.
- Use cuticle oil to gently remove the fakes.
Poole has found that the easiest way to remove faux nails is with cuticle oil. Use a dropper to apply oil underneath the falsies, wait a couple of seconds to allow the oil to weaken the adhesive, and gently but firmly pull the fake nails away from the cuticle—not straight up, which can be both damaging and painful.
- Hang on to those tips for another day.
One of the best qualities of fake nails is you can recycle them. Save them for your next night out or wedding so you’ll always be ready with an instant manicure.