Can You Put Gel Polish On Press-On Nails? (Explained)

Woman hand care. Hands and spa relaxing. Beauty woman nails.


So you found a set of press-on nails that fits you perfectly, but you want to paint them a different color?

No problem!

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about painting press-on nails with gel nail polish.


Can You Put Gel Polish On Press-On Nails?

thinking woman


Yes, you can put gel polish on press on nails.

Despite the fact that press-on nails are made of plastic, they can still safely be cured under a UV lamp after the gel polish has been applied.

Another advantage to painting press-ons is that you can paint them before you even apply them to your finger.

This gives you a lot more control when creating your design!

Painting your press-on nails is a great option to make them look more professional.

In fact, painting your press-on nails with gel polish can be one of the most affordable DIY manicure options.


Things to know about painting press-on nails


When you are painting your press-on nails with gel polish, there are a few things you should keep in mind.


1. Don’t forget to cure the nail

Press-on nails painted with gel polish need to be cured under a UV lamp just like if you were painting your natural nail with gel polish.


2. Choose your adhesive wisely

Whether you use nail glue or adhesive tape will make a huge difference in how long the nails last.

We’ll take you through everything you need to know about choosing your adhesive later in this article.


3. Paint them before application

It’s much easier to paint the nails before you apply them.

Though you can paint them afterward, there is a much higher chance of making an error.

If you aren’t sure how to paint your nails before applying them, keep reading.


How To Paint Press-On Nails With Gel Polish

Coating nails with gel polish in the beauty salon. Professional care for hands.


Step 1: Prepare The Press-Ons

You don’t want to handle the press-on nails until they have a chance to completely dry.

This means you want to paint them before you put them on your finger.

The best method to paint your press-on nails is to use a Q-tip as a “stand”.

All you will need is your press-on nails, 10 Q-tips, and some gel polish.

First, cut a small piece of tape.

Wrap the tape into a ring, sticky-side out.

This effectively makes the tape double-sided.

Press the bottom of the nail into the tape.

Then put the other side of the tape onto the Q-tip.

This way, you can hold the Q-tip while painting them and not worry about messing up the polish with your fingers!


Step 2: Paint The Press-On Nails

Paint an even coat of your desired color onto the press-on nails.

Hold the Q-tip while you paint them.

Start with a very thin layer.

Don’t worry if it is a bit streaky—this is normal for the first layer.


Step 3: Cure The Nail

Since you are going to be using gel polish, you will need a UV lamp for this step.

You can easily find UV lamps in any beauty supply store that sells gel polish or online.

It is common for UV lamps to be sold in gel polish “starter kits” since they are an essential item for any gel manicure.

You should cure each layer for 30 to 45 seconds.


Step 4: Add More Coats

You are going to want to repeat steps two and three a few more times.

You should do a minimum of two coats of nail polish and a maximum of four.

Ensure that you have a solid, opaque base color.

However, avoid making the polish unnecessarily thick by doing excessive layers.


Step 5: Add On Any Design

When you are done with the base color, paint on any designs that you want.

This is also the time to add any glitter.

Don’t forget to cure this layer as well.


Step 6: Lock It In With A Top Coat

A top coat is essential to making sure your design lasts.

After your design is finished and the nails are completely cured, paint on your gel polish top coat.

This coat will need to cure for longer, between 30 to 60 seconds.

However, make sure you don’t cure it for longer than 60 seconds.


Step 7: Apply The Press-Ons

Later on, we will walk through what you should consider when deciding between using nail glue or adhesive tape to attach your press-ons.

Whatever method you go with, now is the time to apply the nails!


Why should you paint your press-on nails?

thinking woman in white shirt


Learning to paint your press-on nails with gel polish offers a lot of benefits.

Here are just a few:


1. Making Your Perfect Nail

Press-on nails are one of the most cost-effective ways to get a stylish and professional nail look.

However, you might spend hours browsing press-on nails and not be able to find a style you like.

Maybe you are trying to match a certain outfit.

Perhaps you want your nails to be perfect for a particular event.

No matter what you are looking for in a nail, painting them yourself ensures that you don’t have to settle.


2. Show Off Your Individuality

If you paint your press-on nails yourself, you can sleep easy knowing that no one has the same nails as you!

One of the major downsides to press-on nails is that hundreds of people in your town might be wearing the same nails as you.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, customizing your nails yourself is a great way to do it!


3. Keep Your Nails Healthy

If you want to get the professional false-nail look without using press-ons, your other option is acrylic nails.

However, acrylic nails have some major downsides.

They can be super damaging and have negative impacts on your nail health.

Using press-on nails instead of acrylic nails is a great way to get a long nail without compromising your nail health.


4. Protect Your Hands From UV Rays

Another bonus of using press-on nails is that you can cure them before applying.

When you use gel polish, you have to cure it under a UV lamp.

However, UV rays aren’t great for your skin.

Excessive exposure to UV light is linked with serious health outcomes like increased risk for skin cancer.

When you are using gel polish with press-on nails, you have the opportunity to cure the nails under UV light before they go onto your finger.

This would be impossible to do if you were applying gel polish to your real nail or acrylic nails.


5. You Can Always Change Your Look

Press-on nails are excellent for the type of person who always likes their nails to match their outfit.

You can change them every day if you want.

If you paint your press-on nails yourself and reuse them, you can easily match your nail look with each outfit.

Keep reading if you want tips on how to reuse press-on nails frequently.


How To Make Press-On Nails Look Professional

Beautiful groomed woman's hands with cream jar on the fluffy blanket


Press-on nails are the most affordable fake nail option.

But that doesn’t mean you want them to look cheap.

Here are some tips to make your press-on nails look professional:


1. Exfoliate & Moisturize Your Hands

Exfoliating your hands will help remove any dead skin.

It will give your hands a fresh and polished look

Moisturizing after exfoliation will also give your hands a bright and youthful appearance.

Typically, a nail salon will do both of these services as a part of your manicure.

By adding it to your home-manicure routine, your results will look more professional.


2. Trim Your Cuticles

Pushing back and trimming your cuticles is the one biggest step you can take to make your manicure look professional.

This is something you should do before applying your press-on nails.

To trim your cuticles you will need a cuticle trimming tool.

If you search online, you can usually find cuticle pushers and trimmers for just a few dollars.

They can also be found in beauty supply stores and drug stores—pretty much anywhere you find press-on nails and gel polish.


3. Paint Evenly

Making sure you have an even paint job is essential.

One way to ensure this is to do multiple coats.

It is typical for the first coat to look streaky.

This is why we advise a minimum of two coats.

Make sure each layer is thin and that you cure your gel nail polish in between each coat under the UV lamp.

A big advantage to painting the nails while they are off your hand (like we talked about earlier) is that there is no risk of getting excess nail polish on your hands.


4. Switch Them Out Regularly

In the sections below we take you through everything you need to know about how long you can expect your nails to last.

Make sure to switch them out before they pop off on their own.

Most people can’t tell the difference between acrylic nails and press-on nails painted with gel polish.

However, if your nail pops off your finger in the middle of doing something, your secret will be out! Don’t leave your press-ons on too long.


How long does gel polish last on press-on nails?

Nail lamp and decor on dark paper background with gel polish and accessories


Gel polish lasts two weeks with proper care, on average.

Press-on nails can also last up to two weeks with proper application and care.

If you follow all of our tips below for longer-lasting press-on nails, you can easily make your at-home manicure last two weeks.


Tips For Longer Lasting Press-On Nails

Cropped view of woman using nail file


1. Buff & File

If you want to make your nails last longer, make sure to buff/file the nail bed before you apply them.

By buffing and filing your nails before application, you provide a rough surface for the nail to stick to.


2. High-Quality Nail Glue

Using high-quality nail glue can make a world of a difference when it comes to making your nails last longer.

More glue makes for a longer wear time.


What if I just want to wear my press-on nails for a short amount of time?

Beautiful gel lacquer manicure


Not everyone is interested in wearing their press-on nails for a long time.

One of the great advantages of press-on nails is that you can switch them out frequently.

If you are a pro at painting nails with gel polish, you can switch out your design as frequently as you want.

If you are planning on only wearing your press-on nails for a short amount of time, it is probably best to use nail tape instead of nail glue.

Adhesive tabs for press-on nails are best for short wear (48 hours) but in some cases can last up to five days.


Can press-on nails be reused?

Female hands with white nail design


After wearing your press-on nails painted with gel polish, can you reuse them?


Press-on nails can typically be re-used up to 5 times.

They are especially easy to remove and reuse if you use adhesive tabs for short-term wear.


Where can I find press-on nails?

Press on nail sets new trend


You can find press-on nails at pretty much any drug store.

Another good place to buy them is online.

A beauty supply shop is another great option for finding a wide selection of press-on nails.


Where can I find gel nail polish?

Manicure on female hands with nude nail polish on the grey background.


This one is easy—anywhere you can get press-on nails, you should be able to buy gel nail polish!

If you are looking for a specific or hard-to-find color, buying your gel nail polish online might be the best move.


Can I use a UV lamp for gel polish when using press-on nails?

Hybrid manicure, uv lamp, nail plate curing


To harden gel polish, you have to put it under a UV light.

This might be your biggest concern when thinking about using gel polish with press-on nails.

Press-on nails are made of plastic.

However, they are completely safe to use under a UV light.

UV lights don’t emit heat, so they will not melt or otherwise damage the press-on nail.

If you are concerned about putting your press-on nails under your UV lamp, you can always do a test run with one nail.

Typically press-on nails come with more nails than you need, and there will be at least one nail in the set that doesn’t fit your finger.


How can I make my press-on nails look like professional acrylic nails?

thinking curly woman


The biggest benefit to using gel polish to customize your press-ons is that you can make them look very similar to acrylics.


1. Reference Photos

If you want to get great at painting your press-on nails with gel polish, try to find designs you love and recreate them.

This will give you great practice and help you learn how to create different designs.


2. Fine Tools

If you are passionate about customizing your press-ons with your own artwork, consider investing in a set of nail art tools.

You can find a large collection of affordable nail art brushes and dotting tools online.

Having the right tools can take your customization to the next level!


3. High-Quality Polish

One of the great things about a gel polish painted onto your press-ons is that it can cover up any plastic-y look that the press-on nails might have.

Getting a high-quality gel polish to be the base of your look will elevate the entire nail.


4. Accessories

If you want to bring your press-on game to the next level, consider buying some “accessories” to add to your paint.

Glitter and gemstones can add a bit of sparkle to your look.

Nail foil can imitate the look of gold flakes to add a luxe feel.

Striping tape can help you create geometric designs and add a little flair.

You can also add stick-on decals on top of a normal gel base if you aren’t amazing at doing designs by hand.

The possibilities are endless!


Why should I use press-ons with gel polish instead of acrylic nails?

Nail Polish. Art Manicure. Modern style pink Nail Polish


There are many advantages to using press-ons painted with gel polish as opposed to having acrylics applied.

The biggest advantage is your nail health.

To have acrylics applied, you have to first use a base.

Often the base is acidic, and it creates microscopic holes in your nail.

This helps the acrylic to attach to the nail bed.

However, it also can cause damage to your nail, especially when used long-term.

Even the weight of the acrylic can put a strain on your natural nails.

If you aren’t using an acidic base, you are still having to file down the nail bed to apply the acrylic.

Furthermore, some people find the chemicals that make up acrylic to be irritating.

Sometimes your nails just need a break from acrylic.

Using press-ons with gel polish can give you a similar look while also allowing your nails to rest and recover from the strains of acrylic.

Moral of the story: Go ahead, paint your press-on nails with gel polish today!

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