How to Remove Press On Nails

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Press on nails look great, There’s no doubt about it. But with that being said, the harsh chemicals involved in the process of application and removal can leave your nails ravaged, or infected, especially if they’ve been left on for too long or aren’t removed properly.

This is why you may be looking at using press-on nails, which have gained huge popularity over the last few years with the added difficulty of getting to the nail salon. And the great thing about using press on nails is that you have a better chance of not ruining the health of your nails.

Press on nails are very easy to apply, although removing them can cause issues. So, let’s take a look at how to remove press on nails.


Funky Town

Press On Nails

Gone are the days when you went to Claire’s to hang out with your friends and buy low-quality plastic nails that fell off after an hour. (Ahem)

Today you’ll find gorgeous, funky, and sassy designs that rival those created by your favorite nail technician. And better still, you won’t ruin your natural nails by using them!

There may be many among you rolling your eyes at the prospect of even using press-on nails. But if you have damage from years of acrylics and gels, these days you can still get that salon look without adding more stress to your natural nails.

Press on nails also have the added benefit of being able to be used again if removal is done properly. So, let’s take a look at how that’s done…

How To Remove Press On Nails  

Funky Press On Nails

Press on nails are very easy to apply. It’s the removal process that is the most delicate part, especially if you want to reuse them. Even more important, though, you will still need to make sure your natural nails stay in as healthy a condition as possible. And we’ve all heard nightmarish stories of damaged nails peeling off the nail bed with the glue… Umm… ouch!

There are two ways to remove press on nails without causing severe damage to your natural nails. If they’ve been on for a while, this process will be even easier as the glue naturally deteriorates. Fresh nail glue is much more difficult to remove.

Acetone Dream


The easiest way to remove press on nails is to soak them in a nail polish remover that is acetone-based.

Soaking the nail bed in acetone allows the glue to break down so that press ons become loose enough to either fall off or be gently pulled off. Don’t try to detach them before they’re ready, as this can strip, peel and cause breakage to your natural nails.

Soaking your nails in a small bowl of acetone isn’t for the impatient, though.

You will have to soak them for up to 40 minutes to get the glue off easily. If the hardened glue is still causing trouble, you can use a soft nail buffer to help with the process of getting the acetone to degrade the glue.

Use this method with caution, though, as you don’t want to pull up the press on along with the top layers of your nail.

If you opt to use a weaker glue the next time you use press on nails, removal will become easier.

After you’ve gotten your press-on nails off, make sure that you remove any glue residue left over by using a cotton ball with some rubbing alcohol or gently buffing it off with a soft nail buffer.

This will make reapplying your press on nails easier, since there won’t be any old glue to stop them from adhering correctly.

Oil Based

Jojoba Oil

If you want another way of removing press on nails that doesn’t require immersing your fingers in acetone, you’re allergic to harsh chemicals or you just prefer a more natural process, then you’re in luck.

For this method, using any oil will do, but it would be wise to use a healthy oil like jojoba or olive, which can promote good nail health.

You simply mix your oil of choice with a small amount of natural soap and warm water… the warmer the better, but be careful not to scold yourself. Soak your nails in a small bowl for around 10-15 minutes, making sure the mixture gets in between the press on nail and your natural nail bed.

If they haven’t fallen off already, after 15 minutes you should be able to carefully wriggle the press on nails from side to side until they pry loose. The more careful you are with this process, the more chance you’ll have of saving your press-on nails for later use.

Last year, a press on nail removal video went viral on TikTok using argan oil. The hack involves press-on nails being dipped in a mixture of argan oil and very hot soapy water multiple times. Argan oil is more moisturizing than jojoba or almond oil, so will also care for your natural nails better and even help to make them stronger.

Whichever process you choose to remove your press on nails, make sure you’ve removed any glue residue from your fingernails.

And if you don’t have a big occasion coming up, then it would be wise to allow them to breathe for a day or two before reapplication.

The next time you apply your press on nails, it is recommended that you apply a top coat on your nails beforehand. This will add a protective barrier on top of your natural nails to keep them from being more damaged by gluing.

Fab Tab

Press on nail adhesive tab

If you have weak nails (or just want a break from glue) and still want to use press ons for a special occasion, there is an easier removal option available. Nail tabs are a double-sided jelly tape that act as an adhesive to fit the press on nail to your nail bed.

Obviously, nail tabs won’t give you the same hold as glue, but if you only need your nails to look great for a day or two, they will provide the look you’re after without causing even more stress to weak nails.

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).