Press-On Nails Are the New Heroes of At-Home Manis

Here’s how to use them, plus two other 2021 spring beauty trends to have on your radar.

Nail bars were among the first services to close under COVID-19 restrictions and the last to reopen, but people still want cute nail looks for a little pick-me-up (it’s the small things!). Enter easy, effortless press-ons. They’ve come a long way since Lee Press-On Nails were launched back in 1985. While there are lots of affordable drugstore options now (usually $10 to $15 for a pack of 24) from brands like Helios, L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche, Quo Beauty, Kiss and Impress, nail bars across the country have been launching their own custom lines of next-level pressies, created by an army of talented nail artists who would otherwise be out of work.

When a second lockdown started looming for Toronto in the fall, Leeanne Colley, the owner of Tips Nail Bar, knew she had to act fast. Her two locations for cool-girl nail art had just recovered from the last shutdown, so when one of her employees suggested they start a custom press-on nails brand, Colley launched Press Refresh.

“It really helps to keep our creativity going,” she says. The product also helps her customers satisfy their obsession with having Instagram-worthy nails. Clients send in their precise nail measurements, and each set is hand-painted. Prices start at $40 for a solid shade and range from $75 to $120 for a designer set, where you can choose from one of the designs on the website or collaborate directly with a Tips nail artist. Bonus: If you use the included gel tabs to apply your Press Refresh (as opposed to a separately purchased glue), then the nails are reusable.

Colley has some strict rules, however, for press-on success, whether you’re using her boutique options or a drugstore brand.

“Proper prep for your natural nails is the most important step,” she says. Her list of must-dos includes washing your nails with rubbing alcohol or a nail cleanser to remove any natural oils, cutting your nails back as short as possible and buffing them until you get rid of any shine. Colley’s products, when applied with the included gel, can stay on for up to five days, at which point you just run them under ice-cold water to freeze the gel pads and pop the nails off. Tips is adding new options all the time, and Colley predicts a lot of tone-on-tone colours, geometric designs, wavy looks, multi-shades — in which you sport a different colour on each nail — and barely-there nudes for spring. “We just keep going and going and going.”

(Related: How the Owner of Tips Nail Bar Keeps Her Company Going During Quarantine)

For the eyes

Masks keep the focus on our eyes, and the spring runways were here for it with mountains of fluffy eyelashes and amped-up cat’s-eye looks. Jodi Urichuk, L’Oréal Paris’s Canadian makeup expert, says spiky lashes are out and soft, feathery lashes are in.

To help, MAC has revamped its entire line of falsies, Lancôme is coming out with Cils Booster Revitalizing Lash Serum, Maybelline New York is launching Lash Sensational Sky High and CoverGirl is upping its au naturel game with the debut of Clean Lash Blast mascara.

As for your lids, a cat’s eye isn’t exactly new, but this season the look is long, with an emphasis on creating more height and extending the tail well past the outer corner of the eye. Try Bite Beauty’s new Upswing Extreme Longwear Liquid Eyeliner in black, or if you want to be extra trendy, try Annabelle’s Retractable Eyeliner in Saffron Metal or Gucci’s Stylo Contours les Yeux in Celeste, a bright blue.

If that all seems a bit much for a time when the glitziest thing you’ll probably be doing is maybe — maybe! — sipping some socially distanced wine on a patio with your book club, it’s a good year for buildable, easy-to-use cream eyeshadows you can just pat on with your finger for an instant polished look or a great base. Get a wash of rosy or champagne shimmer with Burt’s Bees new Color Nurture Cream Eye Shadow, try a sparkly shade of L’Oréal Paris’s new Age Perfect Creamy Eyeshadow or go for a saturated colour with one of the 24 new releases in MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pot collection.

“I’m usually doing my eyeshadow in the parked car,” says Urichuk, “so I love a cream formula — there’s no fallout, and it blends really easily.”

(Related: An Easy, Glitzy Eye to Wear Over Your Mask When You Need a Pick-Me-Up)

Dewy skin for the win

The spring catwalks were full of juicy, low-maintenance faces. While that’s easier said than done if you’re not a 17-year-old model, there are lots of new goodies coming out to help you try to achieve this bright, super hydrated look. Neutrogena is expanding its Hydro Boost collection with a new hyaluronic acid serum, and Vichy is releasing its hyaluronic-acid-based Liftactiv HA Wrinkle Filler Serum.

You can still get some of the blurring goodness of foundation without wearing a full face by using a primer like L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Blurring Face Primer or a glow booster such as Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter, which has just added five new shades.

There’s also a newish category, imported from the K-beauty world, of clear, illuminating liquids that can be worn alone or mixed into foundation for an instant shot of “I-just-drank-more-water-than-Gwyneth-ever-has” freshness, like Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drop.

And if you can’t let go of foundation, there’s good news — Yves Saint Laurent is coming out with a new botanically infused version of its lightweight luminosity veil Touche Éclat le Teint, and Bare Minerals is launching a liquid version of its beloved glowy loose mineral powder.

Next: What Is an Eyelash Serum — and Do I Need One?

Originally Published in Best Health Canada