The 10 Best Press-on Nail Kits for Travel of 2022

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Our top pick is PaintLab’s Press On Nails Kit.

<p>Nails of LA / Static Nails / Shopbop</p>

Nails of LA / Static Nails / Shopbop

I was only an hour into my 10.5-hour flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt when boredom hit. I smiled, then bent over to grab my purse.

Buried at the bottom of my crossbody travel bag — beneath my passport wallet and tangled skeins of embroidery floss hoping to become a friendship bracelet — was a single pack of press-on nails in a soft petal pink.

I did my research ahead of time. I knew that between the packing lists and last-minute trips to the drugstore to pick up in-flight necessities, I’d never find the time to sit down and paint my nails before this trip, let alone go get a manicure. On Amazon, I found press-ons with high reviews from people who were like me: maybe planning to apply them in a non-traditional place (a plane) and didn’t want too many extras or stinky glue.

In my seat, I opened my small box of Kiss Impress nails and began by selecting 10 nails that fit. Once I had my winners, the next step was to wipe my nails clean with the included prep pad. I ripped the single-use pad open slowly and stuck my nose in to check out the odor situation. Not awful. I did a quick wipe then rushed to the restroom and wrapped the pad tightly and disposed of it so that no one had to smell my project onboard.

The rest was fun. I peeled the plastic off of each nail, applied pressure, and boom — after about 20 minutes I was a new woman with a set of slick nails. The mani lasted a few days even while knocking around luggage, and I’d absolutely do it again ahead of my next vacation. I haven’t even shared the best part: they were six dollars.

To learn a bit more about nail trends in general and find out which of the press-on nails available are the best for travel, I tapped manicurist and nail expert Ronna Jones. “Press-on nails are terrific for natural nails when you need a last-minute nail look for any occasion,” Jones says.

Our top pick is the PaintLab Press-on Nails kit due to the wide range of patterns and super simple application. However, from budget options to intricate designs and everything in between, we’ve gathered 10 that are sure to level up your mani:

PaintLab Press On Nails

Best Overall

Why We Love It: We love the eye-popping designs and super simple application process.

What to Consider: The nails are long and thick so you’ll need to spend time filing them down if you want a shorter style.

Not only does PaintLab stand out when it comes to overall design options, but the nails are non-toxic and cruelty-free as well. They’re also incredibly sturdy, which means if you apply them correctly you don’t need to worry about them flying off in the middle of a vacation. Because the glue is so strong, it’s important to spend the time selecting appropriately-sized nails before you start. “It’s essential to find nail tips that are close to the width of your own nail bed,” Jones explains. “If they are slightly larger, you can use a gentle nail file to adjust the shape.” Luckily, this set comes with a file to do just that.

Price at time of publish: Starting at $15

Nails Included: 24 | Included Tools: Nail file, wooden cuticle stick, non-toxic nail glue | Reusable: Yes

Nails of LA The Editorialist Nail Wrap Kit

Best Wrap

Why We Love It: They're essentially stickers for your nails and last around a week, if not longer.

What to Consider: Unlike press-ons, these don’t have a hard shell.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum are nail wraps, a throwback to the accessories we rocked in our youth, and they’re easier than ever to apply while on-the-go. This set from Nails of LA is equal parts stylish and easy. The abstract mani applies in a pinch and adds instant pizazz to your hands. They last about a week if not longer and, when you’re ready to take them off, add cuticle oil or rubbing alcohol and they’ll slowly peel off without damaging your nail.

Price at time of publish: $16

Nails Included: 20 | Included Tools: File duo, cuticle stick | Reusable: No

KISS imPRESS Color Press-On Manicure

Best Budget

Why We Love It: They come pre-glued so you just peel, apply, and hold.

What to Consider: The nails aren’t very strong so they may pop off when you apply force to things like seatbelts.

There’s no stinky glue with these — just peel off the plastic from the underside of the nail and apply the adhesive directly to your nails. Use the included prep pad to clean off your nails first to ensure a stronger connection. You can imagine how useful the pre-sticky feature comes in if you’re applying these in a shared space (like an airplane!).

Price at time of publish: $7

Nails Included: 30 | Included Tools: Prep pad, nail file, cuticle stick | Reusable: Yes

Related:

Dashing Diva Magic Press Solid Color Ginger Snap

Best Nude

Why We Love It: They’re waterproof and last a week.

What to Consider: They’re fairly short so you may need to file your own nails down significantly first.

For nude nails, “Dashing Diva makes cute press-ons,” says Jones. To apply, peel the backing off and place the nail down, holding for a few seconds to make sure the seal is secure. Similar to Kiss imPRESS, these are quick to apply and you’re done before you know it. Ginger snap is a flat matte finish in a gorgeous neutral tone, but there are many more options available.

Price at time of publish: $9

Nails Included: 30 | Included Tools: Prep pad, nail file, wooden manicure stick | Reusable: Yes

Chillhouse French Twist Nail Kit

Best French Manicure

Why We Love It: They have major staying power.

What to Consider: Applying the glue can get messy.

Push back your cuticles, buff the nails, and that’s all it takes to get ready to apply these nails — so easy. Before you whip out the enclosed nail glue, be sure to select a set with a length that suits your needs, or be ready to file them down. “If a person is not accustomed to having long nails, start with short to medium-short length,” Jones says. “You’d be surprised how awkward simple tasks become when nails extend too far past the finger tip.”

Price at time of publish: $16

Nails Included: 24 | Included Tools: Dual sided buffer, cuticle stick, nail glue | Reusable: Yes

Static Nails Caviar Almond Reusable Pop-on Manicures

Best Almond Shape

Why We Love It: If you apply them correctly, you can get a few weeks of wear out of them.

What to Consider: The glue dries quickly so it’s very hard to shift the nail around if you make a mistake.

If you’re looking for almond-shaped nails that will stay on for weeks during a long trip, this is your set. Static Nails includes instructions on how to get these to last as long as possible (hint: you’ll apply more glue). Jones has heart eyes for this set. “Almond and rounded shapes are the most popular, but my favorite shape right now is the classic almond-shape,” Jones says. “I love the long almond matte black nails with the red underside. They remind me of Louboutin shoes.”

Price at time of publish: $24

Nails Included: 24 | Included Tools: Glue, dual-sided buffer | Reusable: Yes

Kiss Everlasting French Nail Manicure

Best French

Why We Love It: Each nail has an individual number tab to make it easy to match nails, and the tab makes them even easier to apply.

What to Consider: The nail length is short.

Applying glue to the backside of each nail can get increasingly more difficult as you affix the longer nails. If that sounds familiar, you’ll appreciate these easy-apply tabs as they make holding and maneuvering each nail easier than ever. Just apply the glue to the back of the nail, set it, and bend off the number tab. The end result is a demure set of short rounded nails that’ll go with everything you pack.

Price at time of publish: $17

Nails Included: 28 | Included Tools: Gel glue, file, manicure stick | Reusable: Not listed

Olive & June Press-On System

Best Kit

Why We Love It: This comprehensive kit comes with everything you need: nails, a pouch, clippers, a file, serum, a removal kit, and more.

What to Consider: It’s pricey and the included removal kit can be awkward to use.

There’s so much to like about Olive & June’s press-on nails. “They’re vegan, cruelty free, and the nails are made from recycled materials,” says Jones. If you’ve found press-on nails to be flimsy, you certainly won’t find that with this brand. “They are thicker and stronger than other brands, which means they’re less likely to bend.”

The kit comes with all the tools to prep, including non-damaging glue. When you’re ready to take them off, you can use the included removal kit which has individual sponges for each nail to soak.

Price at time of publish: Starting at $54

Nails Included: 42 | Included Tools: Pouch, clippers, file, serum, buffer, cuticle pusher, cuticle serum, nail strengthener, and a removal kit | Reusable: Yes

Static Nails To Me, From Me Square Reusable Pop-on Manicures

Best Bold

Why We Love It: This set is high-impact and waterproof.

What to Consider: When you use a lot of glue, it can spill out the sides and get onto your skin.

Static’s reusable pop-on manicures come in all the statement-making shades, like bold reds, leopard print, muted taupes, and designs galore. According to the brand, its press-ons won’t damage your real nails, and they'll go the distance because they’re waterproof. If you’re ready to go bold, this is an incredibly versatile option. “They are beautiful and classy, and fit petite, average, and larger-sized nails,” Jones says.

Price at time of publish: $24

Nails Included: 24 | Included Tools: Glue, dual-sided file | Reusable: Can be reapplied up to six times depending on use

Related:

Pattie Yankee Inspire 24 DIY Pre-Glued Clear Almond Nails

Best Clear

Why We Love It: They come pre-glued so there’s next to no work.

What to Consider: If your natural nails are already long, you may not like the look of seeing them through the clear press-on.

Clear nails? Yes! The nails are pre-glued so just apply them and you’re done (and there is a video if you need more guidance). Jones is a major fan of this option. “Celebrity manicurist Pattie Yankee carries two kinds of press-ons and they can be polished or left natural and clear,” she says. “They are easily shaped or shortened, durable, and have the pre-manufactured, jelly-like adhesive underside.”

Price at time of publish: $12

Nails Included: 24 | Included Tools: Not listed | Reusable: Not listed

Tips for Buying Press-on Nails

Shop for your personal style

Shop for nail tips that are the width of your natural nail bed, but that also reflect a style you’re familiar with. Most press-on nails come with nail files, so if you find that you’ve selected nails that are too long or don’t work with your lifestyle, you can always file them down to suit your needs.

Consider the best length and shape

While long coffin, stiletto, and almond-shaped nails are popular, wearing long nails can be an adjustment if you’re not used to it. Certain professions call for short nails, so pay attention to the best shape and length for your everyday needs. If you select longer nails, you may need to start using the pads of your fingers instead of the tip to do everyday activities like type or text.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do press-on nails work?

<p>Press-on nails work by sticking to your natural nails either with glue or sticky adhesive pads. Depending on how long you want the nails to stay on you’ll want to use less or more glue. Many people find that growing out their natural nails first helps keep press-ons on longer if they’re using glue. </p>

How do I remove press-on nails?

<p>It’s recommended that you don’t pull them off yourself to avoid damaging the nails. Most press-on nail kits will include specific instructions regarding removal, but the most popular way to remove press-on nails is to soak them in a (usually acetone-based) remover until the glue starts disintegrating. If you don’t want to use a remover, you can also try soaking your nails in oil or soapy water until the glue becomes loose, and then use a cuticle stick to carefully remove the nail.</p>

How long do press-on nails last?

<p>Most press-on nails last about a week, if not longer, but it’s dependent on many factors, like whether the nails are thick or thin, and if the glue is waterproof. If the glue isn’t waterproof and you get your nails wet in the shower or from washing your hands, the glue can become weak. The benefit to press-on nails, however, is that if they do get loose or fall off, they’re very easy to glue back on.</p>

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, Travel + Leisure contributor Rebecca Brown interviewed a nail expert and used her own personal experience to research and compile the perfect list of press-on nails for your next trip.

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