How to Remove Your Press-On Nails

A Comprehensive Guide

Press-on nails are a fantastic way to quickly change up your look without spending a fortune at the nail salon. They come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, and the best part? You can apply them yourself at home! However, when it comes to removing them, you might have some questions. In this blog post, we’ll discuss two common methods of adhering press-on nails—nail glue and sticky tabs—and how to remove them.

Hand with shimmery silver nails submerged in clear water.
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  • Preparation: Before starting the removal process, make sure to have all your tools handy. It’s not just about effectiveness; it’s about being gentle to your natural nails. To ensure this, opt for wooden or rubber-tipped tools rather than metal ones.

  • Soak Your Hands: Begin by filling a basin with warm water, ensuring it’s not too hot to avoid damaging your skin. Add a few drops of gentle soap, which helps in softening the adhesive. To elevate the dissolving prowess, pour in a few drops of household oil (like olive or baby oil). This not only aids in loosening the glue but also provides a moisturizing touch to your nails and cuticles. Allow your hands to relax in this concoction for about 10-20 minutes.

  • Gentle Wiggle: The art of patience comes in handy here. While your nails are submerged, gently wiggle the press-ons. This motion helps in breaking down the adhesive bond. Avoid being too forceful; the idea is to let the warm soapy water and oil do most of the work.

  • Use a Cuticle Stick: Once you feel the nails starting to give, take a cuticle stick, preferably wooden, to gently pry the edges of the press-on nails. Remember, if they seem too rigid or difficult to lift, it’s a sign they need more soaking time. For stubborn spots, carefully introduce more oil or even consider a specialized nail glue remover, which can be introduced into the gaps to expedite the process.

  • Clean Up: After successfully removing the press-on nails, you’ll typically notice residual glue clinging to your natural nails. It’s essential to address this to ensure your nails remain smooth and ready for any future applications. Utilize a soft buffer to gently rub off this residue. Follow up with a nourishing nail oil or cream to rejuvenate your nails.

Pros and Cons of Nail Glue


  • Stronger Bond: The primary benefit of nail glue is the robust bond it forms. This ensures your press-on nails last through daily tasks, showers, and other activities.
  • Design Versatility: Given its strong adhesive nature, nail glue is particularly suitable for intricate nail designs or press-ons with embellishments.


  • Tedious Removal Process: As with anything that offers a lasting bond, the removal process requires patience and care. Rushing can lead to damage.
  • Potential Damage: There’s an inherent risk with any nail enhancement. If not removed with care, or if one tries to forcibly peel off the press-ons, it can result in damage to the natural nail, including weakening or layers peeling.

Removing Press-On Nails with Sticky Tab


  • Preparation: Before starting, ensure that your hands are clean. This will help in making the soaking process more effective.

  • Soak in Warm Soapy Water: Fill a basin with warm water and add a few drops of mild soap. Submerge your hands, ensuring that all the nails are fully immersed. The warm soapy water will soften the adhesive and make it easier to peel off.

  • Relax and Soak: Let your fingers enjoy the warm soak for about 10-20 minutes. This is a great time to catch up on a podcast or just relax.

  • Gentle Motion: As you’re soaking, wiggle your fingers occasionally. This helps in loosening the sticky tab’s grip on your natural nail.

  • Using a Cuticle Stick: With a soft hand, slide the cuticle stick beneath the press-on nail’s edge. Gently lift it away from your natural nail. Remember, if it’s not coming off easily, soak a bit longer. Forcing it can cause damage.

  • Rinse and Dry: Once you’ve removed all the nails, rinse your hands to get rid of any soapy residue and pat them dry with a soft towel.

  • Clean and Store: If you plan to reuse your press-on nails, it’s essential to remove any leftover adhesive material from them. Once cleaned, store them in a cool, dry place.

Pros and Cons of Sticky Tabs


  • Non-Damaging: One of the significant advantages of using sticky tabs is that they are far gentler on your natural nails. This means less risk of nail damage or weakening.

  • Reusable: Unlike nail glue, which renders press-ons single-use, with careful removal, these nails can be used multiple times.

  • Flexibility: Want a new nail look for just an evening? Sticky tabs make it easy to switch up your nail design as frequently as you desire.

  • No Mess: Say goodbye to spillage or over-application. Sticky tabs are clean and simple to use.


  • Durability: If you’re someone who needs their nail design to last for more than a few days or will be engaging in activities where your hands will be in constant use, sticky tabs might not be the ideal choice. They don’t provide as strong of a bond as nail glues.

  • Not Suitable for All Designs: While they work for most press-on nail designs, if you have a particularly heavy or intricate nail design, sticky tabs might not provide sufficient grip.

  • Adjustment Period: If you’re transitioning from nail glue to sticky tabs, there might be an initial period of adjustment. You may find the grip different, and it might take a while to get used to it.

How to Take Care of Your Natural Nails

While this will be covered in detail in a future blog post, here are some quick tips:

  • Keep your nails clean and dry to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Use a quality nail strengthener after the removal process.
  • Hydrate your nails with oil to keep them flexible and healthy.

And there you have it! Your comprehensive guide to removing press-on nails. Whether you’re a fan of the sturdy nail glue or the convenient sticky tabs, knowing how to remove them safely ensures you can continue to enjoy all the styles you love.

For more topics of press-on nails, check out our other blogs