How to Remove Press On Nails

When you’re in a rush, press on nails can be easily applied in just minutes. The equivalent of an instant manicure in a genie bottle, these beauty creations are a lifesaver when you’re in a pinch or don’t have time to run to the salon.

Removing press on nails on the other hand is a whole other story.

There are a lot of reasons why you might want or need to know how to remove your press on nails before they’re ready to come off on their own.

Perhaps you’ve got on a rather glittery set of claws and you’ve just gotten the call for an interview the next day. Or maybe only half of your press on nails have fallen off and you can’t go out with half of your nails missing. Or the new set of Yin & Yang press on nails you ordered just arrived, and you’re too excited to try them off.

Regardless of your reasons, you’ve come to the right place. 

Do Press On Nails Ruin Your Nails?

Can’t I just force the press on nail off?

You can. If you want to damage your nails.

We don’t mean to scare you, but forcing off your press-ons when they aren’t ready to go can lead to visible nail damage to your natural nails. If you want to be able to continue wearing press-ons, it will require healthy nail maintenance. And that means keeping strong, thick nails. 

There’s a difference between plucking off fake nails that are hanging on for dear life, and with a press on nail that’s still stuck on tight. Attempting to rip off a nail that’s not ready to come off can lead to a thinner nail with damage like tears on the nail surface.

Press on nails don’t ruin your nails if you follow the recommended application and removal process.

How to Take Off Press On Nails Without Damage

If you’re ready to remove your press ons, follow these steps for safe and proper fake nail removal.

Step #1: Soak Your Nails

The first step to removing press on nails is by soaking your hands in a small bowl filled acetone nail polish remover. Leave your fingertips inside the remover until the press on nails begin to come loose. Next, when the resistance reaches a point where  it requires little force to remove the nails, pull them off, or wait until the press on nails fall off on their own. 

To help expedite the process, you can gently shift the press on nails back and forth in order to help some of the acetone trickle beneath the nail and break down the nail glue.

Although not as effective, if you don't have any acetone-based nail polish remover, soak your nails in a bowl of warm water and soap for 10 minutes.

Step #2: Use Cuticle Oil 

If Step 1 doesn’t completely do the trick, you can use cuticle oil. 

Cuticle oil can help to loosen up press-on nails. Find any edges where the press on will allow for lifting and apply a couple of drops of cuticle oil to the areas just under the press-on nails. Then, let the oil soak in for a few minutes before making any attempts to try removal.

Step 3: Use a Nail Tool

If the press ons don't come off within 15 minutes or so of soaking in acetone or using cuticle oil, pick up a wooden cuticle pusher or other tool to try to lift the press on. With just enough force, the press ons should be ready to come off with a little push.