It's the press-on nail renaissance — why Gen Z are obsessed

Press-on nails are having an eco glow up and Gen Z are into it, says Izzy Richmond

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Izzy Richmond2 May 2024

Unreliable, tacky, cheap… no, it’s not your latest Hinge date. We’re talking press-on nails here. Or at least that’s what we’ve always been told until now. Summer 2024 is on the horizon, and you should expect to see girls (and boys) glueing, sticking and embracing press-on glam like never before. With 1.3 million TikTok hashtags (and counting), these long-scorned slivers of plastic are suddenly becoming Gen Z approved. 

Why now? The popularity of press-ons is part of an explosion in demand for home manicure products, a market now worth $2 billion a year over in the States. Tiger-Lily Taylor is the founder of Claws, a fast-growing newcomer to the market, and describes her own epiphany: “I’d always been a religious acrylic girl. But in lockdown I found myself stuck with these massive acrylic neon talons I couldn’t remove. I thought press-ons would be too fiddly or tricky but I actually found them easier and much more versatile.”

Press-ons encapsulate a savvy work-smarter-not-harder attitude. Nicki Minaj, who last month launched Pink Friday Nails, her own line of luminous press-ons, explained that since the birth of her son Papa Bear she simply no longer has time for hours in the salon.

Press on nails are set to become a fixture this summer
Claws by Tiger Lily Taylor

They also appeal to post-millennial health and wellness concerns. “Gen Z are way ahead of us when it comes to taking care of their bodies”, Taylor says. “Press-ons are much healthier for your nails, especially if you use stickers that can be used and removed daily.” She is also playing into green sensibilities, ensuring her product is 100 per cent biodegradable. “Initially the idea of wearing plastic nails and then throwing them away seemed wasteful. I later realised I was doing the exact same thing with acrylics. I’m trying to change how people think about nails, nail practices and their environmental impact,” she says.

Exercise caution if using regularly, says Margaret Dabbs OBE, the beauty therapist and podiatry expert. “Whilst press-on nails offer convenience, they run the potential of trapping moisture between the natural nail and press on nail” adding that “the adhesive can be an irritant and often needs to be strong to prevent the nail from slipping, potentially causing damage to your natural nail.”

Importantly, have fun with them. They no longer coincide with their cheap and nasty stereotype. They look fab. Whether that’s Superdrug or custom, we’ve got you covered with the top press-on picks.

Iride Print Press-On Nail Set

Emilio Pucci

High fashion press on nails, yes please. Emilio Pucci press on nails are the perfect way to set off a swinging summer, they are long lasting and leave a high quality finish.

Buy now£65, Pucci

Stay Press'd False Nails

Lottie London

Lottie London guarantees a fresh set with this pack of 30 press-ons featuring a fresh and trendy graphic. Note that for hygiene reasons, they aren’t reusable.

Buy now ASOS

She's On Holiday Classic Almond Chill Tips Press-On Nails

She's On Holiday

You can create salon-calibre nail art at home or on the fly with Chill Tips. There’s no mess, wait time, or smudges.

Buy now£15, Revolve

French Glue Press Ons

Delicate Daisy

For the most realistic looking fake nails, opt for Olive and June’s Daisy French Press On nails, which last for up to 14 days.

Buy now£10, Olive and June

French Press


Oh la la! With these timeless French tip press-ons complete with rounded, short tips, you’ll look ultra-chic.

Buy now£16, OPI

Star Crossed Reusable Press On Gel Nails


The ideal finishing touch for any party ensemble, these star-peppered nails are cheery and fun.

Buy now£14, Anthropologie