How to Use False Nails

Persons who have short or brittle nails may be seeking a solution that goes beyond a regular manicure. A cheaper alternative to the salon application of  false nails are the do it yourself versions that can be bought at any beauty store or pharmacy.

Which nails should you choose?

Persons who are experimenting with false nails will find a variety to try. There are various shapes, colors, patterns and lengths to choose from. If you are just starting out with false nails, or do a lot of typing or cooking for example, it is recommended to try a shorter style first.  Larger nail application kits will include glue and emery boards (nail files) for shaping. Basic kits will only have the nails themselves; nail glue (if needed) and other accessories will have to be purchased separately.

Preparing your hands

You want your nails to look fabulous after application, so before putting false nails on, it’s a good idea to prepare the hands beforehand. Do this with an at home manicure. Using a bowl of warm water, soak hands for a few minutes. Trim nails and cuticles with nail clips and files until fingers are smooth. Wash hands with an exfoliating scrub to remove dead cells and rejuvenate skin.

Read the instructions

Some false nails come with self adhesive strips already attached. Read the instructions on the pack to see if this is the case. If nail glue is needed, read the directions on nail glue bottle as well. The glue is extremely strong and should not touch the skin.

Preparing the nails

Sets of false nails will come with a variety of sizes that are designed to fit a range of finger sizes. After the at-home manicure, open the pack and match each of the nail sizes to a finger. Lay them out on a table in the order that they will be applied.

Applying the nails

Self adhesive nails are very easy to apply. Simply remove the adhesive backing on the nail and press it firmly to the fingernail for a few seconds.

If glue is needed, use one to two drops of glue (confirm this with directions on the bottle) applied directly to the fingernail and then press the  false nail firmly to the fingernail. Repeat this for all the nails.


If the desired shape of the nail was not bought, false nails can be filed as needed just like real nails. In some instances, there will be application tips that will have to be removed and the rough edges that are left should be filed until smooth.

Removing the nails

False nails with self adhesive strips can be removed by prying them with a sharp file. Be careful though, as they may go flying. Nails that required glue to be applied will need to be soaked in acetone until the nails become loose. They can then be easily removed.  Do not try to pry off false nails that have been glued on. This may cause significant damage to your own nails and they may break and come off unevenly.

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