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How Do I Choose the Best Fingernail Glue?

Artificial fingernails.
Assortment of artificial fingernails.
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  • Written By: Andrea Cross
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 29 June 2014
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People use fingernail glue to attach false fingernails or tips and even to fix tears in natural nails. More information tends to be available about the choice of nails rather than the glue, so knowing which glue to choose can be difficult. Fingernail glue has different features, including staying power, applicator, and speed of drying, so choose a glue based on which characteristics you want.

You want to choose a fingernail glue that keeps the nails on your fingers for the desired amount of time but that is relatively easy to remove. Select a glue that is slightly thicker and slower flowing as thinner, very liquid glues often do not have adequate adhesion power. You do not want a very thick formula either, however, because a too-thick glue does not allow the false nail to seal properly against the nail surface and cuticle edge.

Most glues are made from methacylate, but if you find that this type of glue is not strong enough, look for a brand that contains ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate. This form of glue tends to be much stronger, providing better adhesion. If you do choose this type of glue, use it with caution as it has been reported to cause onycholysis — the nail separating from the nail bed. Higher-quality glue generally lasts longer than cheaper versions.

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You can purchase brands that are advertised as "extended wear" or "improved bond," and these glues are often good choices, though some people find they do not always work better than normal brands. Try a single nail application first both to make sure that you don't have any reaction to the glue and that you can easily remove the nail after a brief soaking in nail remover. You want a glue that, while it holds the nail on, is not very difficult to remove from your skin and that does not hold the nail on so strongly that your real nail gets torn during removal.

Different applicators of fingernail glue are available, including brushes and pen-like tips. Choose based on your personal preference as both work well, though many people find the brush easier to use. Applicators come in various sizes, and you can buy small, purse-sized ones that are good choices if you need to touch up your nail or fix a tear while you are away from home. Some people recommend using superglue as a stronger alternative to fingernail glue; however, this is not recommended because it is difficult to remove the fake nail without damaging your natural one.

Fast-drying glues are available, and these can be good if you are experienced in applying false nails because they are quicker to use. If you are new to applying fake nails, however, quick-drying glues can be difficult to use. You may end up either gluing your fingers together or else not getting the false nail on to your own nail quickly enough, resulting in an ineffective seal.

If you are still unsure about which fingernail glue is right for you, many kits either come with a glue or the brand produces a separate glue applicator. When in doubt, go with the same brand as your false nails. Read independent reviews before you buy to see what other people are saying about the glue. Finally, always buy from a reputable brand that lists the ingredients of the glue clearly.

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