Image Source: Getty / mikroman6
No beauty category has undergone as epic a rebranding as nail care. In their early days, they had a reputation for being cheap and childish, with few new and trendy design options. Fast forward to today and they’ve become the preferred salon alternative to quick and easy, stylish manicures. Celebrities even wear them on the red carpet. This newfound interest in press-ons has led countless brands to launch their own variations, with #pressonnails receiving over 3.5 billion views on TikTok. In particular, a TikTok nail art video recently went viral because it suggested a new method of application:gel curing.
Traditional nail art methods include glue tabs and nail glue, but @sagittariusicedlatte shared a video on May 24 suggesting people try pressing their nails with gel treatments to make them last longer. In the video she says: “If I could offer any real advice to anyone in the world, it would be:Buy cheap press-on nails – don’t stick your nails, gel will heal them.”
Since its release, the 13-second video has received 4 million views and people have asked thousands of questions about how it actually works. We’ll break it down for you in more detail below.
What is gel curing?
For those unfamiliar, gel curing is a nail application that involves the use of a soft gel and LED or UV light. The method is typically used for Aprés Nail gel- x extensions, but it can be used in other ways as well.
Eunice Park, nail technician and R&D manager at Aprés Nail, tells POPSUGAR: “Gel curing is when a soft gel is put under an LED or UV light to cure.” “What she does is apply a gel to the base of the nail tip, where you would normally apply glue, put it on the nail and hold it under an LED or UV light for 30 to 60 seconds.”
The reason for doing this? It’s safer. Cory Webb, owner and founder of Nail Box, says: “The builder gel has a stronger grip and washes off better than regular nail glue.” The company is at Sola Salon.
How to Press Your Nails with Gel Therapy
With the right tools, you’ll be able to treat your press-on nails at home. Some of the supplies you’ll need are a creating gel like Beetle Nail Polish Gel ($13), an LED or UV light like Beetle Mini Nail LED Light ($16), and the button of your choice. However, not all press-on nails work. Says Parker: “You have to make sure the light from the press fit is strong enough for the curing light to go through.” The Kiss Disco Ball Fashion Fantasy Nail Kit ($9) is a good choice. “If the pressed color is completely opaque, then the light won’t be able to penetrate and cure the gel.”
Once you have all the tools you need, you can use the following step-by-step gel treatment for your pressed nails.
Step 1:File, trim and Buff as usual
Whenever you get a press-on manicure, you should start by giving yourself a basic manicure:File your nails, trim them, push the cuticles back and buff the surface. Weber says: “When using enhanced nails, such as press-on nails or artificial nails, you should gently etch the nail plate with a nail file or rough buffer.”
Step 2: Etch the back of the press-on nail
Once your nail is ready, use the same nail file to etch in the area where you would normally apply glue.Weber says: “By etching both sides, the surface area is greatly increased and the ability to build gel grip is greatly improved.” Then clean the stain and natural nail with alcohol or acetone.
Step 3:Apply builder gel
Now you’re ready to apply builder gel. says Weber: “Use nail adhesive on the nail plate and apply the right amount of builder gel to the press.” “Starting with the cuticle, roll the nail press into place and flatten it out. Press until all air bubbles are removed.” You will also need to remove any excess gel pressed into the skin.
Step 4:Treat the nail under an LED light
Once you’ve removed all the gel from the skin and made sure there are no air bubbles underneath, it’s time to repair under the LED/UV light. “You need to keep pressing on the nail until it’s fully cured so there are no bubbles.” This process takes about 30 to 60 seconds.
The risks of gel-curing press-on nails
Before you repair all your press-on nails with gel, you should be aware of the risks of this unique application method. says Weber: “The most important thing to remember with gel-cured press-on is to make sure the nail is cleaned with alcohol during the curing process and that there aren’t any air bubbles.” “If there is a lift or pocket underneath the press, moisture can be trapped, leading to potential infection or bacterial infection.”
It’s also worth noting that when you treat your pressed nails with gel, removing the nails can be a bit difficult because “they adhere more securely to the natural nail,” Parker says. “However, soaking in acetone should usually be enough to remove the tips.”
Just remember: Never try to pick or pry off your pressed nails. Weber says: “Cutting off a manicure can cause severe damage to the nail, which is tender to the touch and takes four to six months to fully grow back.”