Best False Nails

Updated November 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

76 Models Considered
26 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
126 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best false nails

Whether it’s a girl’s night out, birthday party, wedding, or other special occasions, the right manicure can be the perfect finishing touch to your outfit. But if you have trouble growing your nails or just don’t have time to get them to the length you’d like for your big event, false nails are a lifesaver.

False nails sit on top of your natural nails to add length and/or change the shape. You can usually wear the nails for one to three weeks, depending on the type you use, though there is some upkeep involved. Some false nails are already colored or decorated, so you don’t have to apply polish after applying them. Artificial nails can damage your natural nails, though, so you have to be careful about how you apply them and how often you wear them.

With so many false nails on the market, finding the right set can be a challenge. If you’re confused by all your options, our buying guide has the tips you need to find the best false nails for your next special event. For even quicker shopping, check out our specific product recommendations.
 

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Be careful when choosing the length of your fake nails. Extremely long nails can make everyday tasks like typing on your phone or laptop incredibly difficult.

Key considerations

Type

False nails are available in a few different types based on the material they’re made of and how they’re applied.

Press-on false nails are the most common type of artificial nails. They’re made of acrylic and designed to cover your entire natural nail. You apply a strong, nail-safe glue to the back of the false nails and then press them onto your real nails. Press-on nails are generally the easiest type to apply at home, but they don’t last as long as other types of false nails.

Acrylic false nails are made of the same material as press-on nails, but the acrylic isn’t preformed into the nail shape. Instead, you mix an acrylic powder with a liquid monomer and brush it over your natural nails. The mixture hardens with air exposure to form a durable set of false nails.

Most acrylic nails cover the entire natural nail, but some are only applied near the tips of your nails to lengthen them. Some acrylic false nails use preformed nail tips that are similar to press-on nails, while others use flexible forms you can shape yourself. Most acrylic nails are applied by technicians at nail salons because the process can be somewhat tricky, but you can find acrylic kits for home use.

Gel false nails are similar to acrylics in that they feature a liquid-like gel that you brush over press-on tips or nail forms to extend the length of your natural nails. The gel must be cured under an ultraviolet (UV) light after each coat to create durable, long-lasting false nails. Like acrylic nails, gel nails are usually applied at a salon, but some at-home gel kits are available, too.

Silk false nails feature fabric wraps made of silk, paper, linen, or fiberglass that are placed over weak or cracked nails to help them grow. The fabric is attached with nail-safe glue, but these aren’t as durable as acrylic or gel nails.

Wear time

Before buying false nails, consider how long you want the nails to last.

  • Press-on false nails last five to seven days.
  • Silk nails usually last for a week or two, but they may come off sooner if you regularly submerge them in water. 
  • Acrylic and gel false nails typically last for two to three weeks. However, they do require upkeep. Every 14 to 21 days, you need to file down the edges of your nails and fill in the area between the nail bed and false nail with fresh acrylic or gel.

Removal

The process for removing false nails is mostly the same for all types. You can remove press-on, acrylic, or gel nails by soaking them in acetone nail polish remover. For silk nails, you only need to soak the nails in hot water to remove them.
 

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For Your Safety
Make sure to keep the area beneath your false nails clean. Even trace amounts of dirt or bacteria beneath the nails can cause an infection.
Staff
BestReviews

Features

Color and finish

Press-on false nails are available in a wide array of colors. You can find clear nails that you can paint with your favorite nail polish, but most sets come pre-painted. You can find classic shades like red, pink, or nude, as well as fun, bright shades like purple or turquoise or pastel pinks and purples. You can also find press-on nails in an ombre pattern in which multiple tones from the same color family fading into one another.

Some press-on nails have patterns or designs, such as a classic French manicure or a striking chevron design. Some kits contain false nails all in the same color, while others feature a combination of multiple shades or solid colors and patterned designs.

Press-on nails are also available in different finishes. A glossy, shiny creme finish is the most common, but you can find kits with matte finish or glitter nails. A kit may also mix nail finishes, so you get mainly glossy creme finish nails and a few glitter nails. A mix of colors, patterns, and/or finishes allows you to create accent nails or customize your manicure so it really stands out.

Acrylic and gel false nails use clear nail tips or forms, and most kits include clear acrylic powder or gel. However, some include colored acrylic powder or tinted gel, so you don’t have to polish your nails after applying them.

Shape

False nails are available in several different shapes, so you can choose the option that fits your style. You can change the shape of false nails by filing them, but they have to be long enough to give you extra nail material to file away in order to create your custom shape.

Round or oval: These nails are the most common option and work well if you like to wear your nails a little shorter.

Square: These false nails have a flat edge and squared-off corners and are another popular variety.

If you like to wear your false nails fairly long, you’ll probably prefer almond, stiletto, or coffin/ballerina nails.

Almond: These nails have an oval shape that’s filed along the edge to create a rounded tip.

Stiletto: These nails are filed to a sharper point than almond-shaped nails.

Coffin: These nails have a similar shape to stiletto but are filed to a square tip rather than a point.

Size and length

Size: With press-on nails and acrylic nail tips used to lengthen natural nails, it’s crucial to choose a kit that includes various nail sizes to ensure that there is a false nail to fit each finger as perfectly as possible. In general, the more sizes a kit includes, the better the chances that you’ll find nails that fit. If you can’t find a false nail to fit a particular finger, you can always file the edges down for a closer fit.

Length: You should also consider how long the false nails are. Press-on nails are available in various lengths, but most are fairly long. It’s best to choose longer nails because you can always file them down to a more comfortable length if you want shorter nails.

Acrylic or gel nails that use forms or acrylic nail tips give you fairly long nails, but you can file those down, too.

Quantity

False nails come in kits with different quantities of nails.

Press-on nails typically come in sets of about 28 in a mix of sizes, so you should have enough for two manicures. Some press-on nails come in large sets that contain up to 500 nails.

Acrylic and gel false nail kits usually have enough wraps or nail tips, as well as acrylic powder and liquid or gel, for at least a few manicures.

Extras

Many false nail sets include extras that can help you create the perfect manicure.

Most press-on nail kits come with nail glue, so you don’t have to purchase it separately. Many sets also include nail files and/or buffers to help shape the nails, as well as orange sticks to push back your cuticles.

Acrylic and gel sets sometimes include nail art accessories, too. You can find kits with nail art brushes, glitter, rhinestones, and other embellishments.
 

You may not just need to file false nails down to get the length and/or shape right, but the sides and bottom may require filing to help them fit over your natural nails properly.

Staff
BestReviews

Accessories


Nail polish: OPI Nail Polish
If you use clear false nails, you need an excellent nail polish to finish off your manicure. We really like this polish from OPI because it offers a long wear time and comes in a wide array of shades.

Nail files: Czech Republic Nail Files
You also need a high-quality nail file to shape your false nails and get the length of your manicure just right. These crystal glass files from Czech Republic are a favorite because the kit includes three files in different grits that work on both natural and artificial nails.

Nail art kit: AIFAIFA Nail Art Kit
If you really want your false nails to stand out, a nail art kit can take your manicure to the next level. We love this one from AIFAIFA because it includes a wide range of embellishments, including sequins, rhinestones, and 3D nail stickers, as well as a clear storage container to organize them all.

False nail prices

False nails vary in price based on the type, the quantity, and the extras included. Most sets cost between $5 and $115.

Inexpensive: The most affordable false nails are sets that include press-on nails. Most kits allow for at least two manicures, but some come with as many as 500 nails. You’ll typically pay more for sets that include nail glue. These nails cost between $5 to $15.

Mid-range: These false nails are usually basic acrylic or gel nail sets. They contain the acrylic powder and liquid monomer or gel builder but typically don’t include many other extras beyond nail forms or nail tips. These kits generally cost between $17 and $42.

Expensive: The most expensive false nails are high-end acrylic or gel nail sets. They contain the acrylic powder and liquid monomer or the gel builder and nail forms or tips, as well as extras like nail glitter, nail stickers, and files. These false nails usually cost between $45 and $115.
 

Caution2
  Caution
Never try to peel off false nails. You could damage your natural nails.
Staff
BestReeviews

Tips
 

  • Organize the nails first. Before applying false press-on nails or nail tips, go through the size options to choose a nail that fits each finger. Set them out in the correct order so you know exactly which one goes on which finger.
  • Start with false nails that are a little longer than you think you want. You can always clip and file them down after applying them if they’re too long, but you can’t do anything if they’re too short. 
  • Apply clear polish to your nails first. To avoid damaging your natural nails too much, apply a couple of coats of clear nail polish and then a glitter polish before applying false nails. When it’s time to remove the nails, you’ll lift the polish rather than layers of your natural nail.
  • Let your nails breathe. After you take off false nails, give your natural nails some time to breathe. Don’t apply any nail polish. Instead, treat them with a nail strengthener or cuticle oil to repair any damage the false nails may have caused.
     
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False nails should never hurt while you’re wearing them. If you feel any discomfort after applying them, remove them right away.

FAQ

Q. Do false nails damage natural nails?

A. Unfortunately, false nails can cause damage, such as thinning and weakening your natural nails. It’s usually best to save artificial nails for special occasions and give your natural nails time to recover after wearing fake manicures.

Q. Can I peel off my false nails?

A. Never try to peel or pry off false nails. The products used for acrylics and gel nails, as well as the glue used for press-on nails, are designed to securely adhere to your nails. If you try to peel the nails off, you can wind up taking off the nails’ top layer and causing serious damage. Soak your artificial nails in acetone to loosen the adhesive materials gently, so the nails come loose without much effort.

Q. Are false nails waterproof?

A. You can wear false nails in the shower or pool without worrying about them coming loose. However, soaking them in water repeatedly can weaken the adhesive and cause them to lift, shortening the duration of your manicure.
 

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