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Best nail glue 2024: For at-home manicures or nail emergencies

The best nail glues for repairing natural nails and securing acrylics

A professional salon manicure is a great treat for your nails, bringing a polished look to the hands. However, if you like to switch up shapes and colours frequently, or just don’t have the time or cash for regular trips to the salon, press-on false nails are a quick and cost-effective at-home way to up your manicure game.

Press-on nails are inexpensive and are available in all kinds of colours, nail-art designs and shapes; but, usually, the glue that comes with such kits doesn’t always deliver the same holding power as acrylic or gel nails from a salon. Fortunately, there are lots of great squeeze- or brush-on nail glues on the market that can hold your press-ons in place for weeks at a time, helping your at-home manicure to last much longer.

Even if you don’t wear false nails or nail tips, nail glue is a useful item to have in your bathroom cabinet. You can use it to secure nail jewels and other decorations; and to repair splits and cracks in natural nails, helping the nail last a little longer before you need to file it down.

So, whether you’re securing falsies or taking care of natural nails, nail glue is an essential product to have in your beauty toolkit. We’ve tested a variety of strengths and applicator types to help you choose the best nail glue for you.

How we test nail glue

When it comes to testing nail glue, we apply the product to nails, trying various application options and tracking the long-term quality of the product. Where nail glues are recommended for a particular nail type or use, we test appropriately to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.

We closely follow the product directions and evaluate a product for its overall ease of use, its strength of hold and the length of time for which it keeps press-on nails attached. We also note how well the glue keeps nails in place while doing daily activities. Finally, we confirm the size of the product.

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The best nail glue to buy in 2024

1. Elegant Touch Brush-On Nail Glue: Best nail glue overall

Price when reviewed: £3.30 | Check price at Amazon

Elegant Touch Brush-On nail glue is an extremely tough adhesive that’s perfect for keeping false nails in place. The glue brushes on easily for a budge-free manicure; some reviewers reported being able to keep their nails on for up to a month using this nail glue.

A thin brush applicator makes light work of achieving an even coat, plus the glue takes only four seconds to dry, making it the perfect adhesive for a last-minute manicure. The brush is also useful for sealing down the edges of any press-on nails that might have lifted over time – just flick a little glue under the edge and press down to keep any nails in place.

With 6ml of adhesive in the bottle, it offers great value – that’s enough glue to last for several months if you look after the product well, and the nice twist-on cap seals tightly to stop it drying out prematurely. As well as the standard clear glue, there’s a pink version, too, which might sit well under translucent nails or tips.

Key specs – Size: 6ml; Type: Brush

2. Jessica Nail Repair Adhesive Glue: Best nail glue for repairing natural nails

Price when reviewed: £7.95 | Check price at Amazonbest nail glue Jessica on a white background

If your main reason for purchasing a nail glue is to repair cracks and splits in your natural nails, this nail glue from Jessica is perfect for that task. The quick-drying formula has a medium-fluid consistency that makes application easy, and the bottle comes with a foolproof brush applicator.

To heal a split, push the glue into the split using an orange stick and hold the nail in place for a minute while the glue dries. Gently buff and apply a top coat or colour polish; the glue will seal the sides of the split together for around a week. There’s a decent amount of glue in the bottle, and it should last you some time as long as you replace the brush and cap properly between uses.

Key specs – Size: 14ml; Type: Brush

3. MXBON Pro’s Choice Nail Glue: Best nail glue set

Price when reviewed: £5.89 | Check price at Amazon

Professional nail artists or salon owners can go through nail glue pretty quickly. The same is true of any individuals who apply false nails often outside of a salon. If you fit into either camp then MXBON Pro’s Choice nail glue is for you; the product is sold as a set of three 7g bottles that will last for some time to come.

The formula is non-toxic and has a neutral smell. Most importantly, this is a pretty strong glue; reviewers found their manicure lasted for up to a week. Affordable yet still high quality, the brush head here makes application easy, and the high viscosity will keep the nail tip from sliding around and prevent glue from dripping down onto the skin. A good value choice if you use press-on nails often.

Key specs – Size: 7g; Type: Brush

4. NYK1 Nailbond Super-Strong Nail Glue: Best waterproof nail glue

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at Amazonbest nail glue NYK1 Nail Bond on a white background

The NYK1 Nailbond Super-Strong Nail Glue has a thicker consistency that allows it to hold false nails and acrylic or gel tips onto natural nails for weeks. Due to its water-resistant formula, the adhesive holds firm through daily showering and dishwashing. Since this glue grips nail extensions so tenaciously, it’s reassuring to note that it also contains anti-fungal ingredients, which will keep your nail beds healthy during weeks of wear. The formula is formaldehyde-free and hypoallergenic, so suitable for use on more sensitive skins.

NYK1 supplies clear instructions to help users with easy, effective application, and following these instructions ensures that your false nails will last as long as possible. The bottle features a precise brush applicator that makes the whole process even more efficient. It’s a little more expensive than other glues, but the strong, long-lasting formula makes it good value over time.

Key specs – Size: 8ml; Type: Brush

5. Elegant Touch Quick-Drying Nail Glue: Best quick-drying nail glue

Price when reviewed: £3.50 | Check price at Amazonbest nail glue elegant touch quick dry on a white background

We love Elegant Touch’s Brush-On nail glue, but if you prefer a squeezy tube applicator then this super quick-drying adhesive will secure nails quickly and cleanly for up to two weeks. Like the Brush-On glue this dries in just four seconds, and is great for applying press-on nails and nail tips, securing any loose edges that have popped up when using other glue, or fixing cracks in your natural nails. It’s quick to apply – pop a squidge of glue onto the top tip of the nail and ease your press-ons onto the nail for a secure and long-lasting finish.

The squeeze bottle contains 3ml of glue – less than the brush applicator bottle – but you may find you use less product when applying with a squeezy tip.

Key specs – Size: 3ml; Type: Squeeze bottle

6. AIRRE Extra Strong Nail Glue with Brush Tip: Best nail glue for easy application

Price when reviewed: £5.99 | Check price at Amazon

The AIRRE Extra Strong nail glue is far easier to apply than the cheaper nail glues that arrive in skinny tubes. The brush applicator makes smooth and even application simple, and the glue dries in just seconds, so you can stick on your nails and go.

AIRRE supplies a miniature nail file for shaping your natural nails to match the tips; it’s also helpful for buffing down the nail’s surface to get a good canvas for the adhesive to take hold.

Not only is this glue simple to work with, but once applied, it will keep your manicure intact without any lifting or popping. Some users found their false nails remained in place for up to two weeks, while others praised the mess-free application process.

Key specs – Size: 8ml; Type: Brush

7. Makartt Nail Glue with Built-In Brush: Best long-lasting nail glue

Price when reviewed: £3.99 | Check price at Amazon

Makartt’s long-lasting nail glue is super durable and reliable, even if you’re doing a lot of typing, housework or other activity. Many reviewers found that this glue held strong for up to three weeks without any unwanted lifting or missing nails. Some even said that this is the best glue they had used. The manufacturer recommends that for the best results and longest wear you should dry off the natural nails first, to remove any moisture and smooth out any air bubbles in the glue as you apply nails.

This glue has a good strong hold; however, when you want to change your look, users found that a good soak in some acetone meant that false nails and glue residue was removed without issue.

Key specs – Size: 7ml; Type: Brush

8. The Edge Nail Glue: Best value nail glue

Price when reviewed: £1.19 | Check price at The Edge

If at-home press-on nails save you regular salon trips, then The Edge nail glue will save you even more money while still delivering super-long wear for home false nails. Although the bottle is smaller than others on the market, one squeeze of the tube lasts a surprisingly long time – and the price is incredible value. You can even buy a pack of five bottles for less than a single tube of some of the glues on our list.

The adhesive has a low viscosity that spreads easily all over the whole nail, and this aids the process of achieving an even coat and clean application. The glue dries super quickly and forms a strong hold to securely bond press-on nails, or gel or acrylic nail tips, to your own.

Reviewers were impressed by how long false nails lasted, with some users stating that The Edge’s formula held firm for two months.

Key specs – Size: 3g; Type: Squeeze bottle

Check price at The Edge

How to choose the best nail glue for you

How does nail glue work?

All nail glues are made with a fast-acting bonding agent such as ethyl cyanoacrylate, which adheres strongly when exposed to water in the air. The process is similar to how superglue (or surgical glue) works, superglue is a far stronger cyanoacrylate, though, and shouldn’t be used on nails. Another typical ingredient you’ll see is alcohol, which suspends the bonding agent and keeps the glue fluid in the tube before use. Nail glues are usually clear in the tube, and dry clear or with a very slight white cast.

While all nail glues contain similar ingredients, they can vary in strength, consistency, application and longevity. This is the reason it’s important to find the right adhesive for the use you have in mind.

How do I use nail glue?

Nail glue has two major uses: fixing cracks and splits in a natural nail; and securely fixing acrylic false nails. Which glue you choose, and the type of tube or applicator in which it arrives, will be informed in part by the purpose for which you’ll be using it.

Squeeze bottle – This type of design has an extended tip that can be great for precisely placing a drop of glue on a nail tip. You might find that some squeeze bottles are more difficult to get product out of than others, often determined by the flexibility of the plastic. Note that squeeze bottles can sometimes become blocked, if the tube is left open to the air for too long.

Brush tip – A lot of nail glues now arrive with a brush applicator, like a bottle of nail polish, and are super-easy to use. A brush applicator allows you to achieve a perfectly even coat of glue across the entire nail. However, similar to squeeze bottles, the brush itself may become difficult to use if glue has dried on it as a result of being left exposed to the air for too long. Take care to replace the brush and cap immediately after use.

A squeeze bottle is a quick and convenient way to apply a squidge of glue to each nail when applying false nails or nail tips. Be sure to protect the skin around the nail area and avoid applying excess glue.

A brush applicator, on the other hand, is better to repair small cracks and splits in natural nails to keep the nail together for longer. Simply brush a layer of glue over the whole nail, let it dry fully and then apply a second layer over the first. For extra strength, you can apply a piece of dry tea bag or coffee filter over the cracked area.

To minimise the risk of reaction to the glue, protect the skin around the nail with a barrier such as Vaseline, and avoid applying excess product that may spill onto the skin – a little nail glue goes a long way.

How do I safely remove nail glue?

When you’re ready to remove press-on nails, start by soaking the hands in a bowl of warm water with a little soap, to help soften the adhesive. Soaking the nails for 10 minutes or so should allow them to lift off easily. If they don’t come away easily, soak for longer; never pick or pull at the nails. Remove any nail glue remaining on the fingers with an acetone nail polish remover, and finish with a soak in a nourishing nail oil.

If you accidentally get nail glue onto your skin, use warm water, acetone or Vaseline to remove any excess.

What features should I look for in a good nail glue?

All nail glues are not created equal. To get the best results, consider the following:

Longevity – How long a nail glue can keep your press-ons attached is the number one priority when looking for the best nail glue to buy. Having a nail glue that can last a few weeks or even a couple of months will mean fewer re-applications; plus you won’t have to worry about your nails lifting or popping off.

Strength – A strong nail glue won’t only last longer, but it will happily last through daily activities such as typing, showering, dishwashing and exercising.

Drying time – Most nail glues tend to dry pretty quickly, but some may have faster setting times than others. Having a quick dry time will prevent you from having to press on your nails for minutes at a time to ensure they hold. A quicker drying time will allow you to get your manicure done as quickly as possible.

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