Acrylic, fake, false. What's the difference? Part Two

Acrylic, fake, false. What's the difference? Part Two

In part one I explained what acrylic nails are, why they are a great choice, how they are made, and some of the pitfalls. In this part I'm going to explain what a fake nail is.


Okay, if I told you an acrylic nail is a fake nail, and a fake nail is made of acrylic, you'd be forgiven in thinking I was on something not quite legal. It is confusing, but fake nails are generally bought in kits and are for you to be creative.

Fake nails are also known as false nails or press-ons. Press-ons are a good description really, as this is exactly what you do with them: press them on.


These kits contain ten sizes, numbered one to ten, with one being the smallest, and ten the largest. Each nail has the number on the underside of the tip to help identify the size. You would choose the size for each fingernail, make a note of the number so you can choose the right nail for each finger each time.

Types of Fake Nails

Fake nails are a great alternative to salon acrylic nails. They are cost-effective, simple to apply, and come in different shapes and lengths. The material used in fake nails is very durable, and unlike acrylic nails, have a little bit of flexibility.

You will see to different types: full cover and tips. Tips, as the name suggests, are fitted to the tip of your nail and acts as a support for acrylic powders. They are very difficult to get a consistent finish, and takes a lot of time and skill to get them right.

Full cover covers the whole nail, fitting close up to the cuticle as shown in this image.

Full cover nail

They give a natural look to your nails and experience has showed with a well fitted full cover nail, it's impossible to tell if they are fake or not.

Different Shapes

Fake nails come in several different shapes as shown below:

Different fake nail shapes

It seems the most popular shapes are oval and coffin, which are available from supermarkets and of course Amazon. Because of the material they are made from, they are easily filed to a unique shape if required.

Painting and Decorating

Now, this is where things get a little tricky, or sticky if you like. If you (like many) have trouble keeping your nails in tiptop condition, and like having fake nails because it gives a great look, then you will need to solve the problem of putting the design or colour onto them.

There are two main ways of preparing them.

  • Fixing them and painting
  • Using something like a cocktail stick with tape

Fixing them you your nails and painting them, takes a lot of patience. Getting varnish on your skin, having to sit waiting for them to dry, and painting with your non-dominant hand, are all the same problems as painting your natural nails. If your confident at doing this, then fitting them first is a good option. It does has its downsides, such as it being a difficult option for adding decorations (stamps, gems, etc.) but is the simplest method.

The other option is to fix them to something, such as a cocktail stick. 

Fake nail fastened to a cocktail stick

Wrap some sticky tape on itself so it is sticky on both sides, and attach it to the cocktail stick, and fit the nail to that. Results can be good. The nails can be left to dry and fitted when completely dry. Again, the method is okay for painting a solid, not so great for decorating with gems or stamps.

Fixing the Nails

There are again a couple of choices here. Most blank nail kits comes with a fast acting glue.

Some of these glues are dripped on, others some with a small brush. There doesn't appear to be any difference to the strength between the two types. To fix them, apply a small drop of glue to the underside of the nail, and another small drop on your nail. Immediately press the fake nail onto your own, pressing it firmly and importantly gently squeezing it into your cuticle to give a more natural appearance. Press firmly for a few seconds and the nail is fixed.

The alternative is small double-sided pads.

Fake nail tabs on a backing film

 These are made of a similar product as the glues (they even smell the same). You would peel a tab off the backing film, and stick it to your nail. You then stick the fake nail to it.

How About Later?

The problem with acrylics is they are sort of permanently fixed to your nails. If you want to change the design you need to get them ground off or soak them off. Fake nails can be easily removed and changed when you want. A word of warning here. When trying to removed fake nails, bend them down at the tip, and gently pull them up from the cuticle. NEVER lever them up from the tip because you run the risk of pulling your own nail off! If you don't want to reuse them, soak them off in nail varnish remover. Being able to reuse fake nails is their greatest benefit.


If you have the time and money, and don't mind being stuck with the same design for weeks, then acrylics are a good fit.

On the other hand, if you want a cost-effective way of having the look of a natural nail, decorated with your own design, and have the ability of changing the design, then fake nails are a great option.

Get the Liberty Nailbar

We have seen the joy made by having a perfect set of false nails match the perfect outfit This is why we designed the Liberty Nailbar to empower anyone to create those perfect artificial nails anywhere, anytime.

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The Liberty Nailbar Pro | Worlds #1 Home DIY Press-On Nail Art Kit

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