Credit: Mika Robinson / HelloGiggles

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always hated the nail salon. Yes, I loved having picture-perfect gel nails, but making the hour commit (sometimes three, depending on the day) to go to the salon has never been my cup of tea. The thousands of dollars I’ve ditched out over the years isn’t my idea of fun either.

At the beginning of the year, I made a vow to cut back my spending on certain things. I wanted to have more money to do important things such as paying my debt, traveling, and saving up for a car. One of the first areas I cut back in was self-care, and my $35 gel nails were the first to go.

Almost four months into the year, I have yet to go to the nail salon, and instead, I’ve been investing in cheaper alternatives to get manicures. My favorite, affordable option being press-on nails from my local dollar store.

As a child, I remember playing with press-on nails at sleepovers and it was fun while it lasted. I thought this trend died, but when I typed in “DIY acrylic set” on the YouYube search bar, I discovered that press-on nails are still alive and well (and apparently very popular these days). The search results showed thousands of press-on nail tutorials that looked much similar to the $35 gel nail sets I was accustomed to.

On one of my routine trips to the dollar store, I found these red press-on nails by Broadway Nails. For $1, I definitely thought they were worth a try. They are currently my go-to press-on nails, and it’s not because of its price point.

I love that these press-ons have a natural shape and length that mimics real nails:

Credit: Mika Robinson / Hello Giggles

Don’t get me wrong, I love a dramatic long coffin nail set, but for every day, these press-on nails are practical and perfect.

Here is a picture of what my real nails look like when I paint them.

Credit: Mika Robinson / Hello Giggles

Even though these are my real nails, isn’t it hard to tell the difference between the press-on nails and my actual nails? That’s how good the $1 press-ons are.

The finish of the nails are very similar to gel nail polish.

Credit: Mika Robinson / Hello Giggles

One of the best things about gel polish is the impeccable shine that doesn’t wear away or chip. My press-on nails pretty much do the same thing. If you don’t like shiny nails, there are some matte finish press-ons available.

The range of sizes in the pack are great for most nail sizes.

Credit: Mika Robinson / HelloGiggles

Unless you have ridiculously huge nail beds, you shouldn’t have a problem finding your nail size. There are 20 nails in a pack (10 different sizes). Worst case scenario, you can file down larger nails to make them fit if you’re in-between sizes.

So how do I make my press-ons last for two whole weeks?

I’m glad you asked. Over the months that I’ve been playing around with press-on nails, I have developed my own way of applying them and maintaining them. Disclaimer: Unfortunately you can’t get these exact nails online, but these tips will be useful with any press-ons you wear.

1Opt for short press-ons instead of long ones.

You’re more likely to pop off a press-on nail on a longer set than a shorter one. Short-to-medium length nails are more practical and you can do more with them, without having to worry if your nail is going to pop off at any given moment.

2Opt for a stronghold nail glue rather than peel-off stickers and cheap glue.

Those stickers will do you absolutely no justice, unless you’re aiming to wear your press-ons for five minutes or less. A professional nail glue will hold much longer than many of the glues that come with press-ons. My personal favorite is the Mia Secret Strong Clear Nail Brush-On Glue.

3Apply a hardener on top.

Press-on nails, unfortunately, are not as hard as acrylics. Therefore, they will most likely bend at some point. To stop the bending, add a hardener on top. I personally invested in gel polish and a gel lamp so that my nails can mimic a gel polish to my liking. If you’re not willing to take it that far, try Sally Hansen’s Hard As Acrylics Hardener.

4Avoid submerging your press-ons in water.

Of course, you can’t avoid doing things like showering or washing dishes, but just be mindful that having your hands submerged in water for too long will loosen up the nail glue.

5 Carry your glue with you no matter where you are.

It’s much better to be safe than to be sorry. Carry glue with you just in case a nail breaks free that way you can fix it in a flash.

6Don’t pull them off to remove.

Either sit your nails in a bowl of warm water or acetone to gently remove the nails.

And that’s that! It might seem like a lot of work but you’ll get the hang of it in no time. It’ll be worth it.