Are Press-On Toenails The Weirdest Trend Yet Or A Genius Time-Saver? We Investigate

Fake it 'til you make it? Press-on fingernails have been a staple in the DIY arena of the beauty industry for years. But don't just take our word for it. "Press-on nails were first invented in the 50s but didn't get popular until the 80s when nail art became more popular," celebrity nail artist Brittney Boyce told Sunday Edit. And while the beauty hack's popularity waned over the years as long, leisurely trips to the nail salon became all the rage, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly put the kibosh on that, and suddenly consumers found themselves perusing the drug store aisles for those press-on manicures once again. And now, it appears many are still sticking with the convenient at-home nail treatments. 

But what if we told you that those looking for a quick fix were also applying the press-ons to their toenails? Yes, indeed. Press-on toenails are a thing. But are they the weirdest trend yet or actually a genius timesaver? Here's what we found.

Press-on toenails do require prep time

Applying press-on toenails can be easy peasy lemon squeezy provided you follow a few instructions. First things first, one should always start with a clean canvas — or, uh, in this case, clean feet. "Shape your toenails, push back your cuticles, and clean your nails with acetone or isopropyl alcohol to ensure the natural nails are clear from oils and residue," celebrity nail artist Pattie Yankee advised Byrdie readers. 

Next up: application. Press-on toenails can be applied two different ways: via traditional nail glue or sticky tabs that come pre-applied to the nails. "[P]ress-ons are made with an acrylate-based adhesive embedded in the underside of the sticker, [so] additional glue or acrylate is not needed unless you want to try to prolong the life of press-ons," dermatologist Dr. Dana Stern explained. Still, it's important that one not keep the press-on toenails on for too long. "Toenails tend to hold a lot of moisture, so it's imperative not to wear them past 14 days," Yankee cautioned. "This will help maintain the health of the natural toenails and ensure that bacteria doesn't begin to develop from trapped moisture." But speaking of removal ... 

Press-on toenails require extra care during removal

The removal process of press-on toenails will vary a bit depending on the method used to adhere the press-ons in the first place. Both approaches will start by applying cuticle oil to the area and then using a cuticle stick to work the nail off. However, if the consumer used traditional glue, the process will take longer. "For glue-on toenails, trim the length as short as possible, then file the top surface of the press-on," Pattie Yankee told Byrdie. Afterward, the cuticle oil should be applied, and the consumer should use a cotton ball doused in acetone on top of each nail, wrap it in foil, and check back in 10-to-15-minute increments before trying to work the nail free. And voila!

It should be noted, however, that consumers should take great care not to yank on the fake toenails during removal. "This may induce onycholysis, which is the separation of the nail plate from the nail bed if the product is difficult to remove and requires aggressive pulling," Dr. Dana Stern warned. FYI: onycholysis is no bueno! According to dermatologist Dr. Thivi Maruthappu, the only real way to treat a lifted nail is by taking it off completely. (Insert collective gasp here.) "If you have noticed changes to your nail's condition or symptoms of onycholysis, make sure to visit your doctor to make a diagnosis," Dr. Maruthappu told Refinery29. "A nail clipping may be taken for fungal analysis, too." Yikes.

The jury is still out on press-on toenails

Press-on toenails ... but make it fashion! As it turns out, press-on toenails aren't only relatively easy to apply and easy to maintain — they are also really, really cute! Just ask the beauty influencers on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and various other social media platforms. "You guys, now they have press-ons for your feet," professional makeup artist and YouTuber Jackie Aina gushed to Access Hollywood. "So basically, there's just like these blingy designs. You put them on. It takes you like five minutes. Five minutes!" Alas, Aina confessed that she hadn't actually tried them ... yet. "I am working on it, " she said. "I am just now getting committed to the hands, okay? So we're gonna slowly work to the feet." TBD, we suppose. 

Still, it appears not everyone is on board with the press-on-toenails trend. "Beauty influencers: nobody asked for press-on toenails. Come on," one Twitter user pleaded. Meanwhile, another tweeted, "Can we stop it with the press-on toenails? Some things should not be promoted." So ... uh ... quit trying to make press-on toenails a thing; or do — whatever works for you, we suppose!