Get flawlessly manicured nails in minutes with our pick of the best stick-on nails
Having freshly manicured nails is a foolproof way to feel put together, but going to the salon for a fresh set every fortnight can get expensive. If you’re looking to save some pennies, or you don’t have time to go to the salon, the best stick-on nails can help you feel salon-fresh without the expense.
If done well, falsies are a handy tool to have in your arsenal. Unlike nail polish, press-on nails tend not to chip off with wear. You also don’t have to try to paint on your own patterns, they come in a variety of lengths and you won’t have to spend hours teetering around your house trying desperately not to ruin your fresh manicure as the drying time is significantly reduced.
Don’t worry about the nails falling off prematurely — we’ve tested plenty and only selected the hardiest. Read on for the best stick-on nails you can buy.
Best stick-on nails: at a glance
How to choose the best stick-on nails for you
There are a few things that you might want to consider before purchasing a set of stick-on nails, some of which are obvious, others less so. Here’s a quick guide on how to choose the perfect set for you.
Pay attention to how long each set of stick-on nails is before you buy them. Super long stiletto nails might look beautiful for an evening out, but the minute you try to do anything remotely practical with your hands, they make the task a million times more difficult. Longer false nails are also much more likely to fall off when they get caught on something. For sure, they have a time and a place, but if you’re out for longevity and practicality take a look at some shorter options.
Saying that — there’s nothing to stop you from filing or clipping longer false nails down to the desired length if you want to. That will just take a little extra time and equipment.
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When a set of false nails has 24 nails in a pack, that’s not because the brand forgot we only have ten fingers; they come with that many nails because everyone’s nail beds are different widths, so they provide enough sizes to fit everybody. If the false nails come with fewer size options, that means you’ll have to spend more time filing them down to fit so it’s best to buy some that have a bigger range.
One major tip is to figure out the sizes you need for each nail and do any necessary filing before you start applying the nails. The sizes will often be numbered on the back, so pay attention to the size numbers and lay out the nails you’ll use before in order to save yourself faffing about in a pile of different sizes with gluey hands later.
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As much as this doesn’t affect your overall look, stick-on nails are only as good as the glue that holds them down. So it’s unfortunate that many of the mini-sized glues that come with stick-ons aren’t very strong or easy to apply.
Glues with a built-in brush are much easier to use for application, as the glue coats the full nail; when using a small glue dropper like the ones that come included with stick-on nails, it can be difficult to get an even coating on the whole nail. That means some of the nails may ping off if you’re not well practised at applying the glue. These tiny glues are useful to pop in your bag in case of emergencies when you’re out and about, though.
When applying stick-on nails, most nail brands recommend pushing back your cuticles and buffing the nail before you start. Helpfully, some brands include a cuticle pusher, a nail file, nail glue and an applicator in the kit. Others don’t include all the tools, or may only provide some of them. Whilst these tools can be purchased separately for very little money, sometimes it’s easier to have the whole kit in one, especially if you’re planning on travelling with a set of falsies.
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How we test stick-on nails
When it comes to testing stick-on nails, nothing compares to real-world testing, considering how easily false nails ping off during day-to-day activities. That’s why our tests involve simply applying and wearing each set of nails, paying close attention to how they wear throughout normal daily activities. Some nails don’t sit flush to the nail bed, or have too thickly pre-applied glue, which makes them immediately uncomfortable and fragile. Other nails have rough edges that snag on fabrics and clothing – these nails are eliminated from our subsequent tests.
In our wear tests, we only use the glue supplied with the nail set and make sure to apply an even coat to each nail to ensure our tests are fair. If a nail set comes with two different glue types, we test the nails with each type of glue, noting which one was the easiest to apply, how messy the process was, and which lasted longer in our wear tests. If a nail falls off within the first day of wear they are eliminated from the tests.
Finally, we stress-test to make sure that the nails are strong enough to not snap and have designs that don’t chip or scratch off over time. The set also needs to come with enough sizes to cater to every size nail bed.
The best stick-on nails you can buy in 2023
1. Kiss gel fantasy collection: Best stick-on nails for an easy application
Price: £7 | Buy now from LookFantastic
These gel fantasy nails from Kiss are part of a collection of 15 different long-wearing, stylish stick-on nails. Available in both matte, glossy, sparkly and metallic finishes and three different lengths, these nails are our favourites for longevity and easy application. That’s because they come with super strong glue tabs, alongside the normal nail glue that comes with every set of false nails. While most glue tabs get a bad rep for being too thick on the nails, when pressed on firmly from the cuticle up, the Kiss tabs lay completely flat and stayed on for longer compared to when we used the nail glue. It also sped up the application process so it only took a few minutes, and we didn’t end up with glue all over our hands.
Key details — Styles available: 15; Number of nails: 24; Tools included: file, cuticle pusher, glue, adhesive tabs
2. Elegant touch acrylic salon expert french: Best acrylic-style french manicure
Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon
When it comes to nails, no design is as classic as a french manicure, and no polish is quite as strong as acrylics. It’s not easy to replicate acrylic strength and glossiness in a stick-on nail, but this set from Elegant Touch is the most long-wearing, durable set we tried. Available in both a coffin and almond shape, the set has 24 numbered nails to fit every size of nail bed. While there is no nail file or cuticle pusher, the glue that’s included is the best we’ve tried. That’s because it’s easy to apply and is designed with a wide base to make it easier to stand the glue upright between nail applications to avoid spillages. The glue also feels really secure from the moment it’s dry, and promises to stay that way for up to 10 days.
Key details — Styles available: 2; Number of nails: 24; Tools included: glue
3. Bliss Beauty marble handmade custom press-on nails: Best handmade stick-on nails
Price: £15 | Buy now from Etsy
If you want to try out stick-on nails but can’t find any designs that you like online, then Bliss Beauty might be a brand to consider. It specialises in making stick-on nails by hand, letting each customer choose their desired length and style. The design could be one of the pre-designed options, like the gold marble set above or, you can request a totally custom-made set. So, whilst these nails are more expensive than drugstore nails, they’re totally customisable and you won’t have to compromise on style or length to get a design you like. Even for the custom sets, it’s far cheaper than going to a nail salon in the long run.
Key details — Styles available: fully customisable; Number of nails: 10; Tools included: glue, mini nail file, cuticle pusher, prep wipe
4. JUSTTOTRY almond false nails: Best pastel patterned stick ons
Price: £9 | Buy now from Amazon
Minimalist pastel-coloured nails are on-trend at the moment, so these stick-ons from JustToTry are a great affordable way to hop on the trend without splashing out on a professional manicure. Available in a wide range of fun patterns, colours and almond or stiletto shapes, you’ll definitely be able to find a set of nails that will suit your aesthetic. Be warned though — the sticky pads provided aren’t waterproof, so use a separate glue if you want the nails to last longer.
Key details — Styles available: 14; Number of nails: 24; Tools included: glue
5. Rawr Beauty stick on nails: Best budget stick-on nails
Price: £6 | Buy now from Superdrug
Whilst these nails aren’t the cheapest stick-on nails you can buy, they’re the most affordable nails you’ll find that will cover all bases. They last for days, have a range of styles, sizes and colours and come with all the tools you need for the application. We tested their long stiletto-shaped nails, which are arguably the riskiest shape of nails because their long, slim shape gets caught on things easily. Considering this, they stayed on perfectly for around 4 days, after which point some of the designs started scratching off, but that’s to be expected on glittery coatings. Either way, if you’re looking for nails to wear for a one- or two-day special occasion, these nails are ideal. They’re really easy to apply, with super fast drying glue and clearly sized nails, and they’re super strong without being too thick on the nail.
Key details — Styles available: 21; Number of nails: 24; Tools included: glue, cuticle pusher, nail file