The TikTok Press-On Nail Trend You Should Definitely Avoid

If you've ever used press-on nails, you know that the likelihood of one ending up stuck in your hair, on your dog, or lost in the same mysterious void where socks vanish in the laundry is high. Rinse, repeat, and re-glue day after day, and it becomes obvious why people are looking for a better way that's still more affordable than heading to the salon.

Enter TikTok, of course. The app's latest nail trend, kicked off by a video posted by @Sagittariusicedlatte and propagated by popular users like @Chelseagobbo, suggests using a more heavy-duty alternative to standard nail glue in order to keep press-ons held in place for longer. It didn't take long, fortunately, for actual nail technicians to clap back about the fact that this growing trend is not necessarily a safe practice. Here's what you need to know about the risks of using this new method to secure your press-on nails, as well as which precautions to take if you decide to try it.

The new TikTok hack for attaching press-on nails

The latest TikTok nail trend, courtesy of @Sagittariusicedlatte's video, calls for the use of gel nail polish to better attach press-on nails. However, gel nail polishes contain acrylate monomers, which have been recognized for decades as a direct cause of a condition called allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Yale Medicine lists the most common symptoms of ACD as localized itching, redness, and blistering in the area where the skin was exposed to an allergen. Over time, ACD on and around the fingernails can lead to onychodystrophy, which, according to a study published in the scientific journal Skin Appendage Disorders, causes severe changes in the color, texture, and attachment of the nails.

Attaching a press-on nail with gel polish means that partially uncured gel polish can remain in contact with the skin repeatedly or over a prolonged period of time, and then the risk of ACD increases. Once an allergy develops, it is lifelong. Not only will you be unable to use gel or acrylic nail products in the future but it could also affect your ability to remain eligible for certain dental procedures and joint replacements, which contain some of the same ingredients.

Light curing: color vs. clear

Longtime nail professionals like Amber The Nail Whisperer have come out with videos of their own to warn TikTokers of the dangers of leaving partially cured gel polish on your nails and fingers. The highest risk of an allergic reaction occurs when pre-colored press-on nails are used with gel polish as an adhesive. Since gel can only be cured with a 48-watt or stronger UV or LED light and colored nails block that light, there is no way for the gel base underneath the nail to become fully cured. While a partially cured nail might still hold better than one that's glued on, it can also expose you to ACD and onychodystrophy. Still, Tiktok users such as @Lex_Simply have decided to take their chances.

The only safe way to participate in this trend is to use press-on nails that are completely clear when you apply them. This allows the UV or LED light to penetrate the press-on nail and fully cure the gel below. Apply the gel carefully and promptly remove any spillage on the surrounding skin. Once the nail is attached to the cured gel base, you can safely paint it however you would like with gel or traditional polish. It is important to note that certain individuals may still experience an allergic reaction to gel products. In fact, Dr. Rajani Katta, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, urges anyone who has experienced irritation or an allergic reaction to discontinue the use of gel products immediately.