Nail Glue Alternatives: Unconventional Yet Effective Substitutes You’ll Love

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Ever found yourself in the middle of a nail beautification session only to discover that your trusted nail glue has betrayed you? It’s either dried up, running low, or being a total diva on your natural nails.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What can I use instead of nail glue?” you’re not alone.

We’ve all been there, fumbling through our beauty supplies looking for that miracle substitute. And guess what? There are alternatives out there that are not just substitutes but arguably the ‘Beyoncé’ to nail glue’s ‘backing vocalist.’

Yes, we understand that nail technicians often suggest nail glue, but hey, nobody likes a one-trick pony! Some people find nail glue a little too harsh for their natural nails, or they may even have allergies.

So buckle up, because in this article, we’re about to take you on a tour of the world of nail glue alternatives!

We’ve got everything from marathon-lasting techniques to quick fixes for those ‘nail emergencies.’ And, we’ll even dish the dirt on some options you should avoid like that dreaded Krazy Glue!

Stay with us as we set out to find your new nail champion, a nail glue alternative that’s ready to step into the limelight!


Nail Glue Alternatives

Ready to discover the world beyond nail glue? Here we’ve rounded up a roster of the best substitutes for your nail glue needs. And just because we care, we’ve also thrown in a few no-go zones that you should definitely avoid.

Each of these nail glue alternatives is conveniently easy to get your hands on and will do the job just fine, even when your trusted nail glue has decided to take the day off.

So, whether you’re on the hunt for a solution that’s kinder to your nails, won’t blow a hole in your wallet, or will hang on to your fake nails like a loyal best friend, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s dive in!

1. Nail Tabs 

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Step aside, nail glue, and make way for one of your best alternatives: Nail Tabs.


Think of nail tabs as the double-sided tape of the nail world. Specifically designed for press-on nails, they come in a range of sizes and shapes to fit your nails like a dream.

And if they’re not a perfect fit, you can easily trim them down to size.

When it’s time to say goodbye to your faux nails, nail tabs make it a breeze. Just soak them in warm water – no acetone necessary.

Pros and Cons

While nail tabs might not outlast nail glue in a durability contest, they certainly win when it comes to being gentler on your nails. You can wave goodbye to the fear of damaging your nail plate once your faux nails reach the end of their life.

Another star quality of nail tabs is their peel-off feature, meaning you can give your favorite set of fake nails numerous encores.

Application Guide: How to Use Nail Tabs As A Nail Glue Substitute

Ready to give nail tabs a try? Here’s a simple guide to get you started:

  • Start with prepped nails.
  • Apply the nail tab to your natural nail. It’s easier to control where the tab goes, so your faux nails don’t end up askew.
  • Once the tab is in place, remove the top cover and place your fake nail on top. Press firmly for about 30 seconds or until it feels secure.
  • Finally, rub the fake nail onto your natural nail to banish any bubbles and close any gaps.

And voila! You’re ready to flaunt your fab nails.

2. Acrylic Mixture

Roll out the red carpet for the Hercules of nail glue alternatives: Acrylic Mixture.


Composed of liquid monomer  and powder polymer , acrylic mixture is a potent blend that promises a sturdy bond for your faux nails.

Pros and Cons

The acrylic mixture is the nail world’s answer to the superhero. It boasts a durability that can withstand everything from enthusiastic hand gestures to environmental factors like heat and water. Plus, it’s got staying power – your press-on nails could keep their position for three weeks or longer (provided you treat them right!).

But every superhero has a weakness. The downside of acrylic mixture is that it can be harsh on your nails. The potent chemicals can inflict damage, especially when it’s time to remove your faux nails. After an acrylic stint, your nails might appreciate a vacation.

Also, bear in mind that removing these nails requires a 15-minute soak in acetone, which can dry out and potentially make your nails brittle.

Acrylic mixture is also more of an investment than some other nail glue alternatives, since you need both the liquid monomer and powder polymer.

Application Guide: How To Use Acrylic Mixture As A Nail Glue Alternative

Ready to try the acrylic mixture? Here’s how:

  • Start with clean nails and pushed back cuticles. Buff your nails and wipe them clean with acetone or rubbing alcohol.
  • Next, soak your brush in the liquid monomer and dip it into the powder polymer. This creates a paste.
  • Apply the paste onto your nails, then cover it with the fake nail.
  • Press down for 15 seconds to let the acrylic dry.

Remember, when it comes to the acrylic mixture, less is more. Avoid dunking your brush into the powder. A light dip will do the trick.

3. Gel Nail Polish


Got a bottle of gel nail polish? You might be holding an effective nail glue alternative. But there’s a catch!

Pros and Cons

While gel nail polish can pull a double shift as a nail glue alternative, it’s not the most consistent employee. Its performance as an adhesive is color-dependent. Yes, you heard that right!

Gel polish needs a UV or LED light to cure and harden. If your press-on nails are opaque or sport a dark hue, the light might struggle to penetrate, and the gel won’t dry.

But for those transparent or nearly clear press-on nails, gel polish can rise to the occasion. It can hold the fort for up to 3 weeks, making it a solid substitute for nail glue.

Gel nail polish can be used as a nail glue alternative, but it isn’t the most reliable choice.

Believe it or not, its ability to become a glue entirely depends on the color of your press-on nails.

Gel polish requires UV or LED light to cure; otherwise, it won’t dry. If you have a set of fake nails that are opaque or very dark, the light can’t penetrate them, and the gel won’t dry.

If your press-on nails are nearly clear or transparent, the gel polish can then be a great nail glue alternate and last for up to 3 weeks.

How To Use Gel Nail Polish As A Nail Glue Alternative

Ready to give gel nail polish a shot? Here’s how:

  • Start with clean, buffed nails. Buffing gives the gel something to cling to.
  • Focus on one nail at a time. Apply a gel base coat to your nail, then press the fake nail on top.
  • Immediately place your nail under a UV or LED light, continuing to press down to keep the nail secure. Leave it under the light for about 30 seconds.
  • Repeat this process for all your nails.
  • Once all your nails are ready, apply another layer of the base coat over your fake nails and let them soak up the light for 60 seconds. This extra step helps to further secure your faux nails.

4. DIY Nail Glue


Who said you can’t play scientist at home? Whip up your own batch of DIY nail glue using clear glue and a base coat.

Pros and Cons

Before you get too excited, DIY nail glue isn’t the most durable solution. It’s more of a short-term fix, holding your faux nails in place for a day or two until you can grab a more reliable nail glue alternative.

How to Make and Use DIY Nail Glue

For this fun little experiment, you’ll need a small container, clear PVA glue, and a base coat.

Here’s the drill:

  • Pour the [amazon link=”B085T2CFJR” link_text=”clear PVA glue” into your container until it’s half full.
  • Add a similar amount of the base coat.
  • Give it a good stir and voila! You’ve got your DIY nail glue.
  • To apply, spread the homemade glue on your natural nail, then press and hold the fake nail on top for about a minute.
  • Keep in mind, this glue will need around 15 minutes to completely dry. So, be a bit extra careful with your newly adorned nails for the first quarter of an hour.

Other Alternatives and Their Feasibility:

Can I Use Eyelash Glue as Nail Glue?

Picture this: you’re about to head out, your outfit is on point, but your faux nails decide to go rogue. No nail glue in sight, but there’s eyelash glue lurking in your makeup bag.

Can you use it?

Sure, it’ll do the trick…temporarily.

Eyelash glue is like the distant cousin of nail glue, not as sticky and not made to stick around. It’s designed for day use, so it tends to bid goodbye when you wash your face at night. Expect it to last a day, two if you’re lucky.

But it’s a decent stand-in until you get something more potent!

Can I Use Regular Glue?

Cast your mind back to arts and crafts at school. Remember the white liquid glue we used to stick everything together? Turns out, it’s a surprisingly effective nail glue alternative!

Regular glue is gentler than many other options and won’t upset your skin. If you’re battling sensitive skin or allergies, this could be your knight in sticky armor.

Can I Use Super Glue Or Gorilla Glue?

Listen up, DIY enthusiasts: keep Gorilla glue, Krazy glue, and super glue far, far away from your faux nails.

Gorilla glue is a bit too enthusiastic, expanding as it dries and creating bubbles. Plus, it’s a real stage-5 clinger, refusing to leave your nails for an uncomfortably long time.

Super glue isn’t any better. It can launch an attack on your skin and natural nails and prove to be a real pain to remove. Its label even comes with a stern warning against skin contact.

So, for the sake of your nails, keep it off your nail art adventure!

Wrapping it Up

Navigating the world of faux nails can be a sticky situation, especially when nail glue goes MIA. But as we’ve discovered, nail glue doesn’t hold the monopoly on attaching those gorgeous press-ons. There’s an array of alternatives, from nail tabs and acrylic mixtures to gel nail polish and even a DIY glue.

The best fit will depend on your needs, be it durability, gentleness, or the flexibility to reuse your nails.

Just remember, not all glues are created equal. While eyelash glue or regular glue can serve as a quick fix, the likes of Gorilla glue and super glue should stay clear from your nail art journey.

Now that you’re equipped with an arsenal of nail glue alternatives, your manicure game need never falter. Whether you’re prepping for a special occasion or just spicing up your everyday look, you’ve got the knowledge to nail it every time.

Happy nail art crafting!

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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).