Nail Safety 101: The Ultimate Guide to Staying Safe with Press-On Nails at Home.

Nail Safety 101: The Ultimate Guide to Staying Safe with Press-On Nails at Home.

I got into the nail industry because I wanted to start doing my own nails, just like many of us. I have always enjoyed the process, and being an artistic person, I thought, "Why not?" 

When I finally got my hands on professional nail products, I immediately searched for education or training on how to use them. This was in 2020, and with the world shutting down, I was fortunate enough to be able to do it all online.

Then I learned so much about nails and all the wrong things I've been doing and how I had abused and mistreated my poor nails because I didn't know. I thought, how harmful can this be? Turns out, very! And even cause permanent damage. 

I want to help you avoid making the same mistakes and share some important information that I have learned in my nail career. You deserve to know how to use your press-on nails kit and the tools available at the drugstore safely. So, let's go over some helpful tips together!

Your natural nails

The natural nail comprises multiple layers of skin cells, which make up a hard substance known as keratin. Keratin is the strongest material for nails, which is why we want to keep as much of it as possible. However, when we file or buff our nails, we remove keratin layers from the nail plate. This process is usually harmless if done correctly. But, if we apply too much pressure or use a wooden cuticle pusher with excessive force, it can greatly thin down the nails and weaken them for weeks. According to Doug Schoon from Nail Knowledge, it's important to avoid using too much pressure while filing or buffing nails to prevent damage.

As a press-on nail artist and nail enthusiast, I have learned a lot about being safe when it comes to doing your nails at home. This applies whether you are visiting a salon, buying products, doing your own nails, or using press-ons. While it's easy for me to know about products and techniques, it can be confusing for those outside the nail industry with all the DIY tutorials and social media "facts" out there. So, it's important to always do your research and find what works best for you. However, I am grateful to be surrounded by intelligent and responsible people in the nail industry who promote safe nail protocols, products, and techniques. In this article, we will be discussing some of these safety measures.

Let's start with application kit that comes with your fab Nail Fabs press on nails.

The hand file

You'll find a 180-grit emery board file inside, which is perfect for shaping the edge of your natural nails. Just remember to handle it with care and use a light touch when filing in one direction. This helps keep your nails strong and prevents splitting. Do NOT apply too much pressure – a few slow passes with the file is all you need. Plus, since the file is new and has a medium-coarse grit, it'll quickly take care of any excess nail. Easy peasy, right?

Think light as a feather, feather touches.

Also, a friendly reminder: please avoid tucking the file between the nail and the sidewalls and filing up and down. This can cause the nail plate to separate from the skin in that area, which could lead to permanent damage. Instead, be very gentle and only file the free edge, moving slowly in one direction. 

The buffing block

To prep your nails for press-on extensions that can last for weeks, you need to use a buffing block, which is a little rectangle sponge file. The buffer block that comes in your kit is very coarse, with a grit of 80/100 (the smaller the number, the coarser it is). Therefore, you should use the less coarse side of the block and do ultra-gentle passes on your nail plate. This will help to make the surface of your nails matte by removing only the shine. It's important to avoid moving back and forth rapidly, as this can damage your nails. Instead, use soft touches in one direction to remove the shine gently.

The Nail Knowledge post suggests using a nail file with a grit of at least 240 to buff your nails. To make sure I follow this advice, I just ordered new buffing blocks with 240grit that I'm excited to add to my application kit for you. With these blocks, I can avoid any possibility of damaging your natural nails. The best part is that both sides of the new white block have 240g, so you can use whichever side you prefer. From now on, stick to using nail files with 240grit and above on my nail plate. Also, when you go to the nail salon, be sure to ask your nail artist about the nail files they use and kindly request that they don't use coarser files. Remember, these are still files; even if you don't notice it, they still remove keratin or product, so the keyword is *gentle* touch.

When people say they no longer wear nail enhancements because they damage their nails, it's not the products themselves that cause the damage, but rather the over-filing of the nails.

The cuticle pusher

The term "cuticle pusher" can be misleading as the "cuticle" actually refers to the invisible dry skin on the nail plate, not the skin around the nail. The skin around the nail is called eponychium, which is live skin that protects the nail root from bacteria and dirt. It's important not to disturb this area. Instead, a wood stick should be used to gently scrape the nail plate and push the skin around the nail up in order to reveal more nail surface area. This will help your press-on nails look better. 

While you may be tempted to thoroughly clean around the nail, like in Russian manicures, or even use an electric nail file, it's important to avoid doing so. Russian manicures require professional training and practice, and in reality, such rigorous nail prepping is unnecessary. The only time an e-file should be used is to remove glue residue from the back of press-on nails before re-wearing them. If you haven't had proper training or education other than tutorials on TikTok or YouTube, it's important to avoid using an e-file on your nails, as it can be very dangerous. Instead, stick to using hand files.

I include a wooden cuticle pusher, but if you use press-ons regularly, you can use a metal cuticle pusher too. They both work great. 

Mascara Wand

This is your little dusting brush. It's important to clean and buff your nail plate before applying press-on nails, so you'll want to dust off any debris before moving on to the next step. The key to making your press-on nails last longer is in the prep work.

After shaping and buffing your nails, use this mascara wand to dust off any debris from the surface and underside of your nails.

Alcohol wipes

So, our nails produce oils, and we use our hands all the time, so an important prepping step for your press-on nails to last long is to have a matte, clean surface. To make sure it's 100% clean, we use alcohol wipes, and it works like a charm ;). 

After dusting off debris with the mascara wand, wrap the alcohol wipe around your finger and gently clean the nail surface, the skin around the nail, and underneath. 

Glue and glue dots 

I like to include both options for short and long wear. Now, please don't underestimate the hold power of the glue dots because with the correct prepping, those puppies will hold your nails for days, and for the same reason, you want to remove them to avoid damaging your nails properly. 

A cool trick I learned from a nail artist (I'll look for her) and @theeditorial nail (She is mind-blowing) is that you must have a smooth, flat surface for glue dots to work correctly. That can look like applying two coats of regular nail polish base coat or top coat or maybe a layer of clear gel, but for this, you need the products and lamp and all that, so a regular nail polish topcoat does the trick. 

To get started:

  1. Prepare your nails.
  2. Apply two coats of regular nail polish and allow it to dry completely.
  3. Measure the glue dots to fit the size of your nails and apply them as close to the cuticle area as possible without touching the skin.
  4. Once the glue dots are in place, apply the press-on nails.

By following these steps, you will be able to carry out your daily activities, including washing your hands, working out, showering, and doing dishes for at least 3-5 days or even more. This method is perfect for those who want to change their nail look frequently, need their nails for a special occasion or simply do not want a long-term commitment.

If you love your nails and want the maximum wear time, you will do a combo of gentle, thorough prepping and nail glue. The nail glue in your kit is really good and will hold your nails for 2+ weeks, so keep that in mind when you go this route. The more glue you use, the stronger the hold, so apply nail glue to your nail and the press on nail and press firmly for 10 seconds (actually count 10 seconds), then move to the next nail. 

If you think, "Yes, I want long wear but maybe a few days less," use less glue. Just keep in mind that if you use glue, you will need to wait at least three days to remove the press-ons with less damage, or maybe use a press ons remover product like the Dashing Diva Magic Off; this one works great and does not damage your press ons. 


Just wanted to give you a heads-up that the nail tools and products we find at drugstores, online, or in your press-ons kit can be a little tricky to use safely. I learned this the hard way when I was 16 and ended up filing my nails paper-thin with the wrong kind of nail file. It caused some permanent damage, so I just wanted to share my experience to help you avoid making the same mistake.

Thank you for reading till the end! I understand that it was a lengthy read, but I wanted to share some valuable information that I saw from the ladies at The Press on Portal. They were discussing the importance of safety practices and how crucial it is for nail artists to share their knowledge. 

Social media is flooded with videos showing how easy and affordable it is to do your nails at home, but it is essential to understand that the cost of nails is justified because nail artists invest in safe protocols, tools, and education to ensure the safety of their clients. At least that's what we do in my nail community. 

If you are interested in learning more about nail safety and want to become a successful press-on artist, I highly recommend checking out The Press on Portal. Click HERE to explore and discover everything you need to know.

Have a lovely rest of your weekend, and see you next week! Byeee!


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Doug Schoon, "Nail plate overfiling is an avoidable, yet common problem." Nail Knowledge, 11/13/2020

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