beauty

ROAD TEST: 'I tried $17 press-on fake nails to see if they rival an expensive manicure.'

Update May 6, 2020.

If you’re a lover of acrylic nails, SNS nails or shellac manicures, there’s a good chance your nails are suffering right now.

But in excellent news, press on nails are back and better looking than ever.

Previously known for being a bit, well, tacky, 2020 press on and stick on nails are anything but. Close to home, influencers like Flex Mami are using them in isolation to tide them over until they’re able to get back in the hands of their manicurists.

And even A-list celeb Chrissy Teigen is lamenting the life-changing, time-saving magic of a great set of press on nails to fake an exxy manicure.

press on nails
Chrissy is obsessed with her press on nails. Image: Instagram.
press on nails
Honestly, we are too. Image: Instagram.
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So, we thought now would be the perfect time to resurface our road test of the press on nails you can find at your local chemist if you're keen to give them a try.

From how to put them on to how long they last, here's everything you need to know about press on nails.

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I have a love-hate relationship with getting my nails done.

I love the polished, put-together feeling you get after a fresh gel manicure, but it's also an expensive and time-consuming process. Plus, I have weirdly fast-growing nails, and try as I might, I just can't resist the temptation of picking at a peeling gel mani on its way out.

Alas, I've found a solution, and I say this with my (manicured) hand to heart: it's a game-changer.

Life with and without nails. Fake nail devotees will understand. Post continues below.


Video by Mamamia
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When I first saw Dashing Diva's Magic Press fake nail kits, I was dubious. I had memories of playing with plastic, press-on fake nails as a child. They looked tacky and the adhesive lasted merely hours before they would fall off. As it turns out, a lot has changed in 20 or so years.

Originating as a New York nail spa, Dashing Diva are available in Australia online through their website and at select Pricelines. The majority of their kits cost around $17, which is half the price of a standard gel mani, and a fraction of the costs of nail extensions. Score.

Plus, they're available in both 'oval' and 'square' shapes, and have 'short', 'long', and 'slim fit' sizes to suit all nail beds.

After a good 10 minute deliberation in Priceline, I settled for the Luminous Red kit, $16.99. I liked the feature glitter nail, and their oval shape. They also had other styles with more intricate nail art (including festive options) and added embellishments like crystals.

Dashing Diva magic press
Was buying three nail kits necessary? Absolutely. Image: Supplied / Jess Wang.
Dashing Diva magic press
I liked the 'oval' shape over the 'squared' varieties. Image: Dashing Diva.
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What is the application process like?

It literally took me 10 minutes, and it couldn't have been easier.

Following the instructions on the pack, I used the 'wood stick' to gently push back my nail cuticle, before cleaning my natural nails with the supplied prep pad (acetone polish remover would work just as well).

Dashing Diva magic press
This is what you get in a kit. Image: Supplied / Jess Wang.

I then sized each finger with a Magic Press nail, peeled off the plastic tab and pressed them into each nail, applying pressure for 20 seconds. The size of the press-on is clearly outlined on the plastic tab, so you can easily pair up your left and right hand with the same nail.

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Dashing Diva magic press
Each nail is clearly labelled so you can easily match them up. Image: Suppied/ Jess Wang.

To achieve a more natural look, you want the end of the press-on to sit just slightly under your cuticle bed, but do this gently. If you can feel the fake nail, then you've pushed too far.

After that, you're good to go. The instructions advise you to avoid getting your fingers wet for the next hour.

The removal process is a breeze too. Just saturate the same 'wood stick' with an acetone polish remover, and you can gently ease the fake nail off your natural nail.

Dashing Diva magic press
The finished result, after about 10 minutes of 'pressing'. Image: Supplied / Jess Wang.
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On the nail, I thought they looked SO convincing. For the most part I wasn't even aware that I had them on. I've had gel extensions before, and the Magic Press nails gave a similar result. I forced my Mamamia colleagues to look at my nails, and unanimously, they couldn't tell the difference between my $17 press-ons, and a manicure that could have cost me up to $100.

How long do Dashing Diva nails last?

Dashing Diva state their Magic Press nails should last from three to seven days and don't recommend wear beyond the seventh day.

I did notice the nails on my index finger felt a bit less secure. That was in-part because my natural nail curves slightly inwards, so there's less nail for the press-on to stick to. After four days of wear, I had one index press-on fall off, but all the others still felt firmly attached to the nail.

Dashing Diva magic press
How the nails looked on the first day vs. the fourth day. Image: Supplied / Jess Wang.

Normally a gel manicure only lasts about seven to nine days max on my nails, so I was pretty impressed with the wear of the Magic Press nails. That and they pretty much still looked as good as when I first applied them, four days after.

Let's just say, that next time I feel the need to get a $30+ manicure before an event or wedding - or 'just because' - I'll just treat myself to one of these kits instead.

Like I said: they're a game-changer.

Feature image: Instagram/@chrissyteigen. This post was originally published in December, 2019.

Would you try the Dashing Diva Magic Press nails? Tell us in a comment below.

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