Is it true that you can remove press-on nails by soaking them in warm water with dish soap and oil? Is this the recommended way to remove them? As a press-on nail seller, I initially believed this was the only way to remove them. However, after a few years of experience, I know that this method works, but it comes with several disclaimers. Should we still instruct our clients to remove their press-on nails this way? Let's chat it up and go through some safe press on removal practices and debunk some myths running around social media platforms about press on nails.
First, let's talk about the two methods of adhering press on nails. Those are using nail glue and glue dots or sticky tabs. If you want to wear your press-on nails for a short time or a fast removal process, then glue dots are the best option for you.
And here's the thing with glue dots
I know most of us dismiss them, thinking that they don't really work or have tried them and have not felt comfortable because they feel like the nails are not secure and will slide off as soon as we wash our hands or bump our hands into something, right? I know; I was there too. I used to think glue dots were for kids, and brands would add them just because... lol.
Later on, when I started my own press-on business, I began to use press-ons more, linking up with more artists, and learned that sticky dots could last up to a week when done correctly. If you are adding sticky dots in your press-on application kits, at least for me, I had to educate my clients better on how to use them properly so they can wear their press-ons for 3-6 days comfortably and be able to remove them using warm soapy water and cuticle oil.
The secret to a strong bond between the natural nail and the press-on nails with glue dots is a flat, smooth surface. This trick will work best if you have a gel mani on your nails, like a simple clear or one-color gel manicure, but because the whole purpose of the press-ons might be skipping the salon, you can use a regular nail polish top coat.
Buff your nails using a 240 g buffing block, and do a few slow passes (do not swipe the buffing block back and forth rapidly because this will smooth out the surface, and we don't want that; we want to create a little bit of texture). Then add two coats of the regular nail polish top coat, wait for it to dry, and apply your glue dots.
The warm water with soap and cuticle oil removal technique is the most effective way to safely remove press-on nails glued with glue dots. Glue dots have a strong adhesion power if you thoroughly prepped your natural nails before applying your press-ons, using alcohol and a buffing block. If you rip them off thinking they are just stickers, you could damage your natural nails by peeling off keratin layers off the natural nail.
To remove glue dots (sticky tabs), we need:
- Warm water
- Dish soap
- Cuticle oil
- A wooden stick
- A bowl
Add the water, soap, and a few drops of cuticle oil to the bowl, then apply a drop of cuticle oil to each nail and soak them for 5-10 minutes, then start wiggling the nails until they slide off.
Now, let's talk about nail glue.If you are doing longer wear time with your press-ons, then we use nail glue; we are talking 2-3 weeks with proper care, like wearing gloves for cleaning and not your nails as tools, right?
First, we educate our clients on how to prep the nails for press properly ons application, using a buffing block to smooth out the surface of the natural nail and then the wipe with alcohol to remove oils and dirt off the nail (also, alcohol dehydrates the nail, which helps with adhesion too).
First, we instruct our clients to apply nail glue onto their natural nails and press on the nail tip, then place the nail tip onto the glued area and press it firmly. The strength of the hold depends on the amount of glue used. If you or the client prepped the natural nail and used a significant amount of nail glue, the press on nails will surely last 2+ weeks. This means the water and soap removal method will not work if we try to remove the press-ons in the first 5 days. You will be soaking the nails for hours and end up ripping them off your natural nails, and we don't want that.
So what do you do instead? We use a press-on nail remover like the Dashing Diva Magic Off Nail Remover. The only downside of this product is that it's always sold out :(. Grab as many as possible if you see it because we keep it off the shelves; it's that good. This solution is a mixture of alcohol and oils and removes glued press-on nails without damaging your natural nails and the press-ons.
I have tried other nail removers like the Kiss Glue Off and Makartt, and they do not work as well as the Dashing Diva one. I would not recommend the Kiss Glue Off because it has acetone, and it will dissolve/melt the press-on the nail, and you won't be able to reuse them.
- Press on nail remover
- Wooden Stick
- A paper towel or a towel
Apply the Magic Off solution to the cuticle area and under the free edge, then use the wooden stick to start wiggling the sides of the nail. Be patient and do this slowly; resist the urge to force the stick between the natural nail and the press-on. The solution will work, but it needs time to dissolve the nail glue. You will need about 20 minutes to remove one hand if you remove freshly applied press-ons with nail glue. Again, the longer you wait to remove them, the faster/easier they will pop off.
If you cannot find the Dashing Diva Magic Off Solution, you can use a mixture of one part isopropyl alcohol and a few drops of cuticle oil and use that with a dropper.
I would like to share a hack that I often use with my clients to reduce the time that they need to wear press on nails. I skip the step of preparing the natural nails and instead, I apply the nails directly using nail glue. To make the glue last longer, I apply only a small amount of glue (1-2 dots at the center) and press the nails firmly. This significantly reduces the overall wear time.
One thing to keep in mind if you do this is that the nail tips can pop off at any moment if you bump them into something or try to grab something with your nails; for that reason, I always carry nail glue with me, and I am mindful of my hands and how I use them.
I understand that this may not be the perfect solution for everyone, but if you're someone who enjoys changing your nail color or needs to remove your polish frequently, and if patience isn't your strong suit, then this method could be a good fit for you.
Let's recap. Is the water-soap-oil removal technique effective in removing press-on nails? Yes, but only if you are wearing glue dots.
If you are removing nail glue, you need to wait at least a week after applying them, use alcohol or a non-acetone solution to remove them, and have patience.
I hope I was able to successfully explain this question and provide you with all the information you needed. I wrote this today because when I first started using press on nails, I was confused about how to remove them. I saw many people using water, soap, and oil, but then I also heard press on artists saying, "Stop this madness" and "This is not the way to do it!" So, I decided to try different methods and hacks and consulted with other press-ons artists.
Having a community is priceless in our industry, where techniques keep evolving, and new products are released almost every day. It's great to have support where you can ask other industry professionals. If you are a press-on nail artist or are interested in starting your press-on business, check out The Press On Portal, a one-stop education center created by Jerri from Dippy Cow Nails, where you can learn everything there is to know about how to run a press-on-nails business.
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