The easiest way to apply fake nails or press-on nails is with nail glue. The method is often used by me and many other nail technicians.

There are some drawbacks to nail glue, including allergies and being harsh on the nails for some people.

Now, there is a way you can apply fake nails or press-on nails in other ways, like using nail tabs or nail polish tricks as a substitute for nail adhesive. I am going to discuss these methods of nail glue alternatives in detail in this article.

Top nail glue alternatives and substitutes are given below:

Easy and safe method: Nail Tabs

Glue fake nails or Press on nails onto your nails using nail tabs. These nail tabs are double-sided tapes that adhere the press-ons to your natural nails. Some Press-ons come with these nail tabs, or you can buy them separately. Different sizes are available, so they can be adjusted to fit the size of your nails. These nail tabs are easy to apply and gentle on your nails and you can easily soak them off in warm, soapy water within 5 minutes. citation

As your natural nails stay safe while removing press-ons, the nail tabs guarantee the reuse of your press-ons.

As for their main drawback, nail tabs aren’t as sturdy and long-lasting as nail glue. The best scenario is using the press-ons with nail tabs for a shorter period, when you plan to remove them after a few hours. However, they are milder and gentler on your nails while still allowing you to reuse your Press on Nails afterward.

Nail tabs an alternative of nail glue

Steps for applying nail tabs to press-on nails or fake nails:

  1. Preparing your nails is the first step, and you can do this by washing them with soap and warm water.
  2. You can now push back any cuticles on your nails with a cuticle pusher.
  3. Finally, buff your nails gently with a nail buffer.
  4. To prepare your nails, you should either wipe them with rubbing alcohol or acetone.
  5. The advantage of preparing your nails before applying the nail tabs is that they will adhere better to your natural nails.
  6. Rather than applying it to a Press-on Nail, I recommend applying it directly to your nail.
  7. The nail tab is placed exactly where you want it to be, allowing you to cover most of the nail.
  8. Place the Press on Nail on the nail, then remove the top cover and hold it firmly for 20-30 seconds.
  9. Once the top cover is removed, rub the Press on Nail over the nail. You can use this to eliminate any air bubbles or gaps.

Advantages of using the Nail tab

  • Gentle on nails; don’t require acetone to remove them.
  • Nail tabs ensure press-on safe removal, meaning you can reuse it as often as possible.
  • The removal process requires only warm, soapy water, and your fake nails will come off easily.

Related Article: Make press on nails last more than 3 weeks

Disadvantages of the Nail tab

  • Nail tabs don’t stay longer as compared to nail glue.
  • In warm water, they remove easily
  • you can’t use them on nail tips as nail tabs work with full-cover gel nails.

A mixture of acrylics (more durable and longer-lasting than acrylic glue):

acrylics mixture nail glue substitute

An acrylic mixture is an easy substitute for nail glue. Fake or Press On Nails can be glued to your nails using an acrylic mix. When I refer to the acrylic mixture, I am speaking of the liquid and powder mixture used to create acrylic nails. The same acrylic mixture can be used to glue the press-ons or gel nails.

Just like the gel nail system, you can get long-lasting Press-On or fake nails with acrylics for more than 3 weeks. However, the acrylic mixture is hard on your natural nails, just like nail glue, and sometimes the monomer element can cause itchiness or an allergic reaction if not suitable for your skin.

Advantages of using acrylic mixture as nail glue alternative

  • Long-lasting manicure for up to 3 weeks without chipping or lifting.
  • Can withstand water exposure, extreme heat, and moisture.
  • You can apply the acrylic mixture on full-cover nails or nail tips as well

Disadvantages of using acrylic mixture as nail glue alternative

Acrylics are as harsh on your nails as nail glue, so be careful if you have sensitive skin

The removal process requires acetone soak for more than 10 minutes

Not so beginner friendly, you have to learn how to mix the ingredients right way.

this nail glue alternative is quite expensive as compared to nail tabs or nail glue.

Application of Acrylic mixture as a nail glue:

  • Firstly, you must prepare your nails by washing them gently with warm water and soap.
  • Secondly, push your cuticles back with a cuticle pusher and remove any cuticles on your nails.
  • Finally, buff your nails using a nail buffer.
  • Next, you need to clean your nails with either acetone or rubbing alcohol.
  • Apply a coat of no-lift nail primer to your nails if you have one.
  • You should then soak your brush in the acrylic liquid and dip it in acrylic powder. Making a semi-solid bead.
  • Cover your nails with fake or press-on nails after you apply the beads.
  • Lastly, hold the Press on Nails in Place for 10-15 seconds until the acrylic dries.

Safe method: gel nail polish or polygel as nail glue substitute

gel nail polish substitute of nail glue

You can use Gel Nail Polish or polygel or builder gel as an adhesive to fix Press On or Fake Nails in some cases. Its a famous DIY manicure trick in which gel polish acts as a substitute for nail glue. Polygel is more convenient for beginners to use as a nail glue because of its thick consistency and press-on nails will hold on easily.

The reason is that the gel polish hardens and turns into an adhesive after curing and you can glue your press-ons to your nail plate easily. The best part is, that the gel polish is a better substitute for nail glue as compared to nail tabs. If the gel polish is cured properly, your press-ons will be secured strongly just like nail glue. But there’s a catch: if your press-on nails are thick or dark colored the UV light might not penetrate the fake nail and the gel polish will not be cured and harden properly. So, if you want to get a flawless press-on manicure then use gel polish substitute for nail glue with translucent or transparent presson nails only.

Press on Nails that are somewhat transparent or clear can be attached to the nails with Gel Polish allowing them to remain for 1-2 weeks.

Can regular nail polish work as a nail glue alternative to glue press-on nails?

you can use clear nail polish to glue press ons but this won’t be as strong as nail glue.

related articles: Gel vs Acrylic nails which is best for you

Nail glue Alternatives made at home:

DIY nail glue alternative

A simple DIY Nail Glue alternative can be made by mixing clear glue with a base coat of clear nail polish.  You can easily make it at home. Take a clean container and fill it half with white PVA glue and then fill the remaining bottle with clear nail polish and mix it well. Your DIY nail glue is ready to use. According to wikihow you can apply it with a trimmed end of a cotton swab.

However, this glue is not very strong. However, depending on how much activity you do, you should be able to hold your fake nails for about a day or so.

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