press ons
These are pressing times. (Illustration by Drew Parrott, Oswego University)

Press-Ons Are the Perfect Alternative to Nail Salons

Going to the nail salon isn’t always an option, but with press-on nails, you can give yourself an instant, beautiful manicure from home.

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press ons

Going to the nail salon isn’t always an option, but with press-on nails, you can give yourself an instant, beautiful manicure from home.

It wasn’t until I saw a hard to swallow tweet that press-on nails crossed my mind. It’s as if I were back in 2005, playing with Polly Pockets and pretending to be a cosmo by chopping off doll hair in my made-up salon. Yet again, press-ons are kind of a big deal, and they have made a comeback.

If you’re not familiar with press-ons or didn’t get the chance to play salon as a child, press-ons are essentially fake nails that can be applied via sticky tab or pressed on with nail glue. Press-ons have many more perks than the $55 dollar acrylics women get at a nail salon — yes, nail salon visits cost that much, and sometimes even more!

Besides press-ons being cheaper, they can also be removed anytime you want, they can be reused and it’s easy to switch the style and nail design without a two-hour salon visit.

Press-ons are sometimes a better option depending on your occupation — for example, athletes, nurses and those in food service often have regulations on their appearance. But what if you fall into one of these categories and there’s a birthday, graduation or concert to attend and you want your nails to be polished? Press-on nails are the answer.

Like everything else in the world, press-on nails have their fair share of strange history. Some thought it all began in the Roaring ’20s — coincidence that it’s currently 2020? I think not. The Roaring ‘20s was a time when fashion for women was all about getting loose. Women wore shiny dresses, smoked, cut their hair into short bobs and even grew out and painted their nails. However, it actually goes back further than the Roaring ‘20s.

A Brief Nail History

Back in 3000 B.C., China would have people color their nails to represent social rank. They did this by using gum, egg white, gelatin and other things to make lacquers. Egyptians used foreign objects such as bone or gold to extend their nails as a symbol of high status. Isn’t it odd that somehow, today, the style of one’s nails can determine social status as well?

In regards to false nails in the U.S., the final say came in the 1950s, when a dentist broke his fingernail while working; he used some equipment and accidentally created an artificial nail. The dentist and his brother then patented a successful version of the invention and began the company Patti Nails.

After the accidental creation of an artificial nail, acrylics came into play. Acrylics are false extensions to the nail for length or strength; basically, it’s the more formal word of press-ons, though they do not fall into the same category — weird, right?

Nails Now

In the U.S., painting nails wasn’t a huge thing until Hollywood boomed and starlets were wearing red polish. That’s where the classic, iconic red manicures came from. We can also thank the automobile industry for providing automobile paint, which spurred nail polish.

On average, salons in the U.S. charge around $20 for a basic manicure, with pedicures costing even more. Usually the upkeep on a manicure is every two weeks, and that price sure does add up quickly. If you’re trying to save some money or want to play around, then try press-ons.

Besides being convenient, press-ons usually have designs on the nail, which are also known as nail art. Nail art consists of crystals, air brush, crackle polish and more.

Much like in the past, acceptable nail trends and colors depend on the year. The 1980s was about neon colors. The 1990s was a time of minimalism with solid colors. Now, in the new millennium, it’s about texture and embellishments, as nails have become part of the whole outfit.

Celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Bad Bunny, Jennifer Lopez and Justine Skye have a love for manicures with intricate designs. Some have even coordinated them with their outfits; obviously celebs have a whole nail team with the click of a button on their iPhone, but just because you don’t, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on being stylish too.

There are well-known brands of press-ons, such as KISS and imPRESS. Both can be found in the beauty aisles of your local supermarket or beauty store, and they only cost $5, depending how elaborate you go. Or you can be extra and go as far as getting custom press-ons.

Currently, there are tons of self-made press-ons being created, and now, even nail technicians are spending time on press-ons due to salons being closed because of COVID-19. Some have created Instagram pages for their work: All you have to do is search “press on,” or you can go online to Etsy, search “press on nails” and come up with thousands of results to find a pair that expresses your taste.

Hesitant about getting the wrong size? There are plenty of guidelines provided by those selling them, as well as YouTube videos to show you how to accurately measure the length of your nails. Yes, there is some measuring involved to get the best fit, but it’s much easier than you think.

Hesitant about your nails being ruined? Don’t be, because press-ons come off anytime you want, sometimes even without trying if you’re using your nails harshly.

Besides, the chemicals aren’t directly on your nails; a thin layer of glue is enough to keep them on for a few days. If you’re tired of them, all you need is a nail file, clipper and warm water to get them off.

There are already tons of premade press-ons, and there are options for custom press-ons, but if you’re artistic, you can go down to your local beauty store or supermarket to get the materials you need to create fabulous designs yourself.

Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a talent for it, and when the time comes for social gatherings, you’ll always have the best nails.

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