How To Remove Press On Nails With Adhesive Tabs

You’re not alone if you’re thinking of nail tabs for your next manicure. They are highly convenient. For instance, tabs hold your tips and press-on nails as strongly as glue (at least for the first 1-2 days) but are much easier to install. Also, they are gentler on the nail plate.

So, today, we want to discuss a fairly hot topic – removing press-on nails with adhesive tabs. Fortunately, you have a few options.

How to remove press on nails with adhesive tabs

The easiest way to remove press-on nails with adhesive tabs is by using rubbing alcohol or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Alcohol is much gentler on the nails than acetone but removes nail tabs almost as fast. Dab rubbing alcohol over the artificial nail using a cotton pad and wait 30 seconds. Then rock the loose nails from side to side to dislodge them from the nail plate.

What are Adhesive Tabs?

Adhesive nail tabs, also known as sticky tabs or glue tabs, are special nail-sized stickers that adhere to the natural nail on one face and the artificial nail on the other, binding the two surfaces.

The tabs are made from plastic or acrylic sheets. Thus they’re strong, durable, and waterproof. Additionally, most tabs are breathable. Peeling the sticker reveals an adhesive surface that sticks strongly to natural and artificial nails.

It’s easy to apply adhesive nail tabs. Peel the front sticker and stick that face to the artificial nail, pressing gently for a strong bond. Then peel the reverse sticker, bind that surface to the natural nail, and press down the false nail for a strong bond.

Advantages of Adhesive Tabs Over Nail Glue

Adhesive tabs are highly popular among celebrities seeking a quick manicure. You should try them too for the following reasons;

  1. Easy and fast installation: Adhesive tabs are the simplest manicures to install, even easier than nail polish. You’re often done in under five minutes. Moreover, you can install the nails anywhere, including in the car.
  2. Easy and fast removal: Nail tabs are just as easy to remove. Soak the nails in lukewarm water to loosen the tabs for about 30 seconds. Then push them off with your free hand. Again, it takes under five minutes to remove a whole set.
  3. Less messy for easy cleanup: Though strong, There’s always the risk of nail glue splashing over the cuticles and surrounding skin, making a big mess. Tabs eliminate the trouble, offering a product that requires little to no cleanup.
  4. Less damage to the natural nails: Unlike nail glue and super glue, tabs form a softer bond. Therefore, you don’t require aggressive chemicals or a filing process to remove the false nails. Also, the product doesn’t dry or corrode the nail plate like glue.
  5. It’s super affordable: Surprisingly, nail tabs are cheaper than nail glue or superglue. You can get 1000+ tabs for under $4.00 at Walmart. That’s enough for a whole year or longer.

Is It Easy to Remove Press On Nails with Adhesive Tabs?

Yes, it’s very easy to remove fake nails with adhesive tabs. For instance, rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer removes adhesive tabs in under 30 seconds. Soak the nails in alcohol to loosen the adhesive tabs. Then rock the nails gently from side to side to weaken the bond. The fake nails will come off without much trouble.

Alternatively, soak adhesive tab nails in soapy water, vinegar, or non-acetone nail polish remover. Soapy water is the least corrosive, while nail polish removers are the fastest.

How to Remove Press-On Nails with Adhesive Tabs

Below are step-by-step guidelines for removing press-on nails with a cuticle stick, cuticle oil, nail polish remover, soapy water, and rubbing alcohol.

Method #1: Removing Press-On Nails with adhesive Tabs Using a Cuticle Stick

One of the easiest ways to remove press-on nails with adhesive tabs is by pushing them using a cuticle stick. This is the least intrusive and safest method, provided you don’t apply too much force.


  • Cuticle stick
  • Cuticle oil

How to Remove Press-On Nails with Adhesive Tabs Using a Cuticle Stick

  1. Wiggle the artificial nail gently from side to side to determine the adhesive strength. You only want to use the cuticle stick approach if the artificial nail is weak and on its way off.
  2. Wash your hands or soak them in clean water. This process loosens the adhesive tabs for easier removal. 
  3. Locate the area where the fake nail is lifted. Then use a wooden cuticle stick to pry the nail at that point. Do it gently. If it’s too hard, stop and consider a different removal technique.
  4. Once the fake nail creates a sizeable gap above the nail plate, grab the adhesive tab and peel it from the plate.
  5. Peel the tab from the press-on nail if you reuse the nails. Then wash and store them.
  6. Wash your hands with warm water to remove the adhesive residue. Then apply cuticle oil and hand lotion. 

Method #2: Removing Press-On Nails with Adhesive Tabs Using Cuticle Oil

Yes, cuticle oil is a solvent. It’s not as strong as acetone. But it dissolves most compounds, including adhesives and glue.

But be warned that not all cuticle oils are the same. We recommend vitamin-rich cuticle oils as the vitamins nourish the nails and fingers. Most vitamin-infused cuticle oils contain vitamins A, D, and E. You may even find a few with the anti-oxidant-rich vitamin C.

In addition, some cuticle oils contain essential oils. For instance, tea tree oil is a common ingredient. Lemon and lavender oils are also popular. These ingredients nourish the nails and fingers.


  • Vitamin-rich cuticle oil
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Wooden stick

How to Remove Press-on Nails with Adhesive Tabs Using Cuticle Oil: A Step-by-Step Guide

The easiest way is to squeeze a few drops of cuticle oil onto the press-on nails and wait 2-3 minutes. The oil loosens the glue, making pushing out the fake nails easy.

However, we prefer using cotton pads or balls as it’s more economical. In that case, proceed as follows;

  1. Soak a cotton ball in acetone.
  2. Rub the acetone-soaked cotton ball onto the false nails, particularly around the edges, to reach the adhesive tabs below.
  3. Allow the nails to soak for 2-3 minutes. The longer, the better. But leave it for at most ten minutes.
  4. Gently pry the fake nails with a wooden stick. Then peel the glue tabs to remove the nails.
  5. Clean and store the false nails. Then wash your hands with warm water to remove the glue residue, dry the fingers, and apply vaseline.

Method #3: Removing Press Ons with Rubbing Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most common solvents. It breaks down and removes nail glue easily, typically in seconds.

You have two options, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is a diluted version of isopropyl alcohol. So, it’s gentler on the nails.

However, IPA breaks down glue bonds faster. Feel free to dilute the alcohol with water if you’re worried it may dry your hands.


  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Glass or ceramic bowl
  • Wooden cuticle stick

How to Remove Press-on Nails with Adhesive Tabs Using Rubbing Alcohol: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pour sufficient rubbing alcohol into a glass or ceramic bowl.
  2. Soak your fingers in the solution for 2-3 minutes to loosen the adhesive tabs.
  3. Use a wooden cuticle stick to push off the false nails gently. Always start at the point where the nails are slightly lifted. Then pry the rest of the nail.
  4. Repeat for all your nails. Then clean and store the false nails. Meanwhile, clean your finger with warm water to remove lingering glue. Then dry your hands and apply cuticle oil and vaseline.

Method #4: Removing Stick-On Nails Using Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish removers are the best for removing acrylic nail products. Indeed, they’re specially designed for this purpose.

But there are two types – acetone-based and acetone-free polish removers. So, you must choose carefully. An acetone nail polish remover is faster and more aggressive. So, it’s perfect for tough acrylics and often unnecessary for adhesive tabs.

Meanwhile, acetone-free polish removers contain softer solvents that weaken nail adhesives without terrorizing the nail plate and the surrounding skin.


  • Nail polish remover
  • Wooden cuticle sticks

How to Remove Press-on Nails with Adhesive tabs Using Nail Polish Remover: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Assess the state of the tabs to choose the right polish remover. Consider acetone-based removers for strong adhesives and non-acetone removers for older false nails already on their way off.
  2. Rock the nails lightly to weaken the adhesive. Don’t be surprised if some nails come off at this stage.
  3. Soak the nail in polish remover. Alternatively, dab the polish remover onto the nails using cotton pads. The second approach is slower but more cost-effective.
  4. Use a wooden cuticle stick to push out the nails, working from the edges inward. Again, see if you can find lifted sections and start there.
  5. Wash your nails to remove the residue. Then apply cuticle oil and petroleum jelly to soften your hands.

Method #5: Removing Press-On Nails with Warm, Soapy Water

Finally, you can always turn to warm, soapy water if you don’t have a solvent. Of course, a celebrity nail artist may want something more fashionable, but soapy water is the perfect DIY solution.

Lukewarm water is sufficient. Then you need natural soap with essential oils to soften the hands and nails. However, regular hand soap is fine if that’s all you have.


  • Natural soap
  • Warm water
  • Cuticle pushers
  • A glass bowl

How to Remove Press-on Nails with Adhesive Tabs Using Warm, Soapy Water: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Fill the bowl with lukewarm water.
  2. Add natural or regular hand soap and stir to lather.
  3. Soak your nails in the solution for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Use a wooden stick to lift the false nail
  5. Grab the exposed adhesive tab and peel it off the natural nail
  6. Wash the nails. Then apply cuticle oil and hand cream.

How To Remove Press On Nails With Adhesive Tabs FAQs

How do you remove adhesive press-on nails?

The fastest way to remove adhesive tab-backed press-on nails is by soaking them in a ceramic or glass bowl filled with acetone-based nail polish remover. It takes only a few seconds for the glue bonds to break down.

Then you can gently remove them with a cuticle pusher. Alternatively, consider non-acetone nail polish remover. It’s slower but less harsh.

Do adhesive tabs damage nails?

Yes, a little. All artificial nail products do. However, glue tabs are arguably the least damaging. The adhesive is softer and less corrosive. So, you can remove it with less harsh chemicals in a shorter time, minimizing nail damage.

Also, you can wear adhesive tabs back to back for months without destroying the nail plate. Unfortunately, you cannot say the same about nail glue or superglue.

Can you reuse press-on nails with adhesive tabs?

Yes, you can reuse press-on nails with adhesive tabs. Better still, you can reuse the nails up to five times using adhesive tabs. Contrastingly, you can only reuse press-on nails once if using nail glue or superglue.

The more durable the nails, the longer you can reuse them. But remember to clean and disinfect fake nails before reusing them.

How long do press-on nails last with adhesive tabs?

Press-on nails last 3-4 days if using adhesive tabs. It’s shorter than nail glue, which lasts 5-7 days, and super glue, which lasts up to two weeks with good maintenance. Indeed, this is the biggest disadvantage of adhesive tabs. But it’s long enough, given most people wear adhesive tabs for events and occasions.


An acetone-based nail polish remover is the best solution for removing press-on nails with tabs. Soak cotton pads in nail polish remover and dab the artificial nails gently. Then wait a few seconds for the adhesive to soak.

The false nails come off with minimal fuss. Alternatively, soak the nails in rubbing alcohol, vinegar, soapy water, or cuticle oil.

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