Nail Glue vs. Super Glue: Here’s the Difference

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Nail glue vs super glue? Do you have questions? We’ve got answers! 

We can all agree that we live in a “do-it-yourself” era. This is thanks to everyone’s growing creativity and patience coupled with YouTube/TikTok tutorials that are easily accessible and available.

One of the things that people love doing in the comfort of their homes is artificial nails. 

They are easy to purchase and come in a wide range of designs, shapes, and colors. Plus, they can instantly give you a fabulous manicure with less effort than painting your nails yourself.

A nail specialist applying a nail glue on a woman's nails in a salon

The one drawback is that sometimes the nail adhesive that comes with these products isn’t always great making these press-on wonders fall off at inopportune times.

That’s why you need some good nail glue to make sure that they last. After all, who would want a nail breaking or falling off a day or two after the application? Not us! 

Which brings us to the important question: are you using the right glue? 

Nail adhesives aren’t created equally, and sometimes finding the right one can make or break your mani. The most commonly used adhesives when applying fake nails include nail glue and super glue. 

Does that mean that nail glue and super glue are the same? They may seem similar to each other, but there are major differences between the two. 

So before you apply them to your nails, here’s the lowdown on nail glue vs. super glue, including what sets them apart, their pros and cons, and how to use them. 

What Is Nail Glue?

Nail glue is a type of nail adhesive that is specifically designed to be used for artificial nail application. 

It is one of the essentials in the world of nail art and is used to attach artificial nails, such press-on nails, to natural nails. 

Nail glue is often described as a “fast-drying adhesive” that creates a strong and durable bond between the natural nail and the artificial nail. 

It contains a mixture of any of these common ingredients: cyanoacrylate, ethyl cyanoacrylate, polymethyl methacrylate, hydroquinone, and benzoyl peroxide.

It is created to be gentle and skin-friendly, making it safe to use for most people. But its use doesn’t stop there. 

You can also use this for quick nail repairs. Most nail glues come with a brush, squeeze tube, or dropper tube.

What Is Super Glue?

Super glue is a pure cyanoacrylate adhesive. It is a quick-drying adhesive that is commonly used in various applications such as medical, industrial, or household repairs. 

Its name comes from its ability to create a strong, permanent bond between two surfaces quickly. 

Although the strong adhesive seems to be ideal for making the press-on nails last longer, super glue contains chemicals that are not safe for human nails or skin. 

What Are the Differences Between Nail Glue vs Super Glue?

Nail glue vs super glue. Ah, yes, the commonly asked question. 

While both nail and super glue are adhesives that can bond two things together, they have their key differences. Here’s a quick rundown:

Their composition

Nail glue vs super glue and the category is composition. 

Nail glue is specifically formulated for use on nails and contains ingredients such as citric acid and benzoyl isopropanol that are gentle on the skin and nails. 

Meanwhile, super glue is pure cyanoacrylate, which has chemicals that can be harsh on the skin.

The drying time

Super glue dries more quickly than nail glue. Why, you ask? Because it contains molecules of cyanoacrylate that are activated by moisture. 

Its reaction creates heat and generates strong chemical bonds, so they dry almost instantly, leaving little time for repositioning. 

This makes them perfect for repairing broken objects. 

By contrast, nail glue takes longer to dry, making it more flexible than the super glue. 

They provide more time to adjust the nail or artificial nail into the desired position. Even if you placed the stick-on nails wrong, you could still adjust it. 

Differences in strength

Another difference? Their strength. 

Super glue is generally stronger than nail glue and can bond a wider range of objects, including plastics, metals, etc.,

On the other hand, nail glue is designed for a specific purpose, which is to attach artificial or press-on nails to natural nails or to repair damaged nails. 

Ease of removal

One of the coolest things about nail glue is that they are easier to come off. 

Nail glue is formulated to be removable with acetone, a common nail polish remover. In comparison, super glue can be more difficult to remove and may require harsher solvents or scraping. 

What’s the Difference Between Gorilla Glue and Super Glue?

You may be wondering, “What is the difference between the Gorilla Glue and super glue?” 

Super glue, also known as cyanoacrylate glue, sets almost instantly and is very strong. It forms a strong bond quickly and is ideal for variety of surfaces such as plastic, metal, and glass. 

On the contrary, Gorilla Glue is a polyurethane-based adhesive. It requires moisture and water to cure and achieve its optimum strength. It is used for wood, metal, and ceramics.

Can Super Glue Be Used as Nail Glue?

A white bottle with a red lid on a blue background.

Using super glue on the nails is a big no-no. 

We know that as you scroll through the internet, many people are saying that super glue can last longer than nail glue.

But here’s the thing: super glue is not formulated for use on nails or skin. 

Plus, it contains harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritations, allergic reactions, and even chemical burns. 

Not to mention that it could also roughen up your natural nails, resulting in brittleness. 

Reasons Why You Should Avoid Using Super Glue on Your Nails

As mentioned, super glue is not designed or intended for use on nails. 

There are several reasons why you should NOT use super glue on your fake nails. Here are just a few:

Super glue can damage your nails

If you love your nails, then you need them to become as healthy and strong as possible.

Therefore, using super glue on nails is something you want to avoid. 

That’s because super glue has harsh chemicals, such as methyl 2-cyanoacrylate, can damage your nails by causing them to become brittle, weak, and prone to damage. 

Super glue can cause skin irritation

As explained, super glue contains cyanoacrylate, a strong adhesive chemical that can cause skin irritation. 

When it comes into contact with the skin, cyanoacrylate reacts with the moisture in the skin and begins to polymerize, forming a hard, plastic-like substance. 

This can cause various skin reactions such as irritation, redness, and even roughened skin.

Not to mention that it can trap moisture and cause dermatitis. 

Super glue is hard to remove

Super glue has several compounds that make it difficult to remove once they’re applied and dried. 

That’s why once you want to change your artificial nails, soaking it with acetone or using nail polish remover will not be effective in breaking down the bond created by super glue.

How Long Does Nail Glue Last?

How long nail glue lasts depends on several factors, including the quality of the glue, the way it was applied, and the way it’s stored. 

Generally, nail glue can last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your activity level and how well you maintain your nails.

However, there may be factors in your daily life that can affect the longevity of nail glue. 

For example, exposure to water or chemicals can weaken the glue and cause it to break down more quickly. 

Plus, certain activities that stress the nails such as typing or playing an instrument can also cause the glue to wear off quicker than expected. 

Obviously, we all want our cute press-on nails to last. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, store the glue in a cool, dry place, and avoid exposing the nails to water or chemicals as much as possible. 

The Best DIY Nail Glue Alternatives One Can Use

No nail glue? No problem. 

If you are looking for alternatives to traditional nail glue, we’ve put in the legwork to give you options. 

Keep scrolling to see the best alternatives you should consider. 

Sticky Nail Tabs

Don’t have time to glue your nails? Sticky nail tabs will be your bestie! 

These sticky nail adhesive tabs usually come with press-on nail packages and are what many DIY users use when applying fake nails.

Aside from their easy application, these nail tabs are gentle on the nails and can be easily removed without damaging your natural nail. 

Here’s how to use nail tabs:

  1. Prepare the nails by washing them and buffing them to remove excess oil.
  2. Swipe your nails with either acetone or rubbing alcohol before applying the nail tab.
  3. Use orange sticks or a cuticle pusher to push back your cuticles and remove any cuticles on your nails.
  4. Check the nail tab against the size of your nail. Cut excess if needed.
  5. Apply the nail tab to your nail bed without overlapping on the skin.
  6. Once applied, place the fake nail on top of the tab and press for 20 to 30 seconds.

These are easy to use. However, these sticky nail tabs usually last up to 48 hours — just enough to hold your nails during an event or important occasion. 

Gel Base Coat or Gel Adhesive

You can also use the base coat of gel nails or the gel adhesive for gel tips as artificial nail glue. 

This is perfect as a temporary adhesive, however, the main problem is that it’s not as consistent as other nail glue alternatives. 

Plus, this method isn’t very effective if you have opaque or dark polish press-on nails. This is because the UV/LED curing can’t successfully pass through a very dark polish for proper polish curing. And if gel polish isn’t properly cured, it can cause contact dermatitis.

For nails that are light or transparent, gel base coat and gel adhesive can last up to two weeks if applied properly.

Here’s how to use gel base coat or gel adhesive as nail glue:

  1. Prepare the nails by washing them and buffing them to remove excess oil.
  2. Swipe your nails with either acetone or rubbing alcohol.
  3. Use orange sticks or a cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles.
  4. Use a nail file and file the top of your nail to help the gel base coat or gel adhesive adhere better.
  5. Use the base coat or gel adhesive and swipe it on your nail.
  6. To secure the press-on nails further, swipe the base coat or gel adhesive on the back of the press-ons, then press your fake nail onto your natural nail and cure the base coat or gel adhesive under a UV/LED lamp for at least 20 to 30 seconds while still pressing the fake nail on.
  7. Repeat this process for each nail.
  8. To complete the process, swipe on the top coat and do a final cure for 60 seconds or as recommended by the product’s packaging instructions.

The process is similar to applying gel polish and, when done right, can last just as long.

Here’s a YouTube tutorial video for this hack:

Acrylic mixture

If you are familiar with acrylic nails, you know the acrylic mixture. 

But did you know you can use the acrylic mixture as a substitute for nail glue? 

The acrylic mixture is the liquid and powder mixed and used to form acrylic nails. These can last up to three weeks when applied and maintained correctly.

However, it’s important to note that while this method is long-lasting, it should only be used by expert nail artists who normally do acrylics at home. This method is not suited to beginners.

Plus, the acrylic mixture for press-ons can be harsh on your nails as it can be hard to remove. 

Here is how to use an acrylic mixture as nail glue:

  1. Prepare the nails by washing them and buffing them to remove excess oil.
  2. Swipe your nails with either acetone or rubbing alcohol.
  3. Use orange sticks or a cuticle pusher to push back your cuticles and remove any cuticles on your nails.
  4. Dip your nail brush in the acrylic liquid and then into the acrylic powder making a small semi-solid bead from the mixture.
  5. Put the bead in the middle of your nail and apply the fake nail on top.
  6. Hold the fake nail in place for 10 to 15 seconds to allow the acrylic to dry.

Acrylic is a good option if you are allergic to nail glue. However, if you don’t know how to use acrylic nails, you may need to ask a professional nail technician to do this.

DIY nail glue

If none of the alternatives mentioned work for you, you can also make your own nail glue.

That’s right! This method will make your DIY heart very happy. Plus, it’s quick and easy too.

Here’s how to make DIY nail glue:

  1. Fill a clear container roughly halfway with white PVA glue, then fill the rest with clear nail polish.
  2. Prep the nails as usual. Clean, buff, and push back cuticles as needed.
  3. To apply the DIY glue, use a trimmed-off cotton swab and apply the glue to the nail.
  4. Press the fake nail onto the glue and hold for 20 to 30 seconds while the DIY glue dries.

While this is an easy method, it’s not very long-lasting. Like nail tabs, this only usually lasts roughly a day or two.

How to Properly Remove Nail Glue

If you want to remove your artificial nails, you need to do it properly to prevent damage. 

Let’s go through each step together. Here’s how to properly (and safely) remove nail glue:

1. Soak your nails in acetone.

A woman's hand is being soaked in a bowl of acetone

The easiest and quickest way to remove fake nails is with acetone. 

You can remove it by filling a bowl with acetone-based nail polish remover. 

Here’s a friendly tip: warming the acetone will make the process faster and more effective. To do that, you can submerge the bottle in warm water for a few minutes. (Please, don’t microwave it!)

Or add warm water in a bigger bowl then a smaller bowl of acetone inside the bigger bowl. The water in the bigger bowl will keep the acetone warm.

The other method is to soak a cotton ball in acetone. Put it on top of the nail bed then wrap them together with a foil or nail clip. 

Trust us, these methods will help loosen the adhesive that is holding the artificial nails in place. 

2. Gently file off the surface.

Once the nails have soaked, you can use a nail file, e-file, nail drill, or nail pusher to file away the surface or residue of the fake nails gently. 

This will help to break the seal between the natural and artificial nail. 

3. Use cuticle oil and moisturizer.

After filing away the fake nails, make sure to moisturize your nails and cuticles to prevent them from becoming dry and brittle. 

You can use a cuticle remover or moisturizing lotion to keep your nails healthy and strong. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are super glue and nail glue the same?

Super glue and nail are NOT the same thing.

Although both are very similar because they contain cyanoacrylate, super glue is 100% cyanoacrylate, while nail glue has lower concentrations of cyanoacrylate and other ingredients such as BHA and citric acid.

Nail glue is a type of adhesive specifically designed for use on nails. It is generally more skin-friendly and has gentler ingredients than super glue. 

On the other hand, super glue is for medical, industrial, or household uses. 

Can I use super glue as nail glue? 

The short and quick answer is NO. 

Super glue is not formulated for use on nails or skin. It contains harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritations, allergic reactions, and even chemical burns.

That’s why in the nail glue vs super glue debate, we recommend using nail glue because it is safer for your nails and more convenient to use. 

I’m allergic to glue. What is the best alternative? 

You can use sticky nail tabs if you are uncomfortable with nail glue. 

It is convenient to use and you don’t have to deal with any mess. Simply press the nail tab onto your nail bed, making sure it is aligned correctly. 

Hold it in place for a few seconds to ensure it sticks well. 

Is it OK to use Gorilla Glue on nails?

There’s one thing we all want in common regarding false nails: we want them to last longer. 

It may be tempting to use Gorilla Glue on press-on nails because of its longevity. 

But no, you should NOT use Gorilla Glue on something delicate as your nails. 

Gorilla Glue is strong enough to be used to bond wood and ceramic. Obviously, it contains compounds that might also be too strong for your nails. 

Additionally, it might cause a fungal infection before that moisture weakens its bond. 

Nail Glue vs. Super Glue: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, nail glue is better than super glue when it comes to applying press-on nails. 

As mentioned above, super glue is bad for your nails and presents too many risks to be used as a fake nail adhesive.

After all, we all want our nails to be healthy as they are pretty, and to do that, we need to choose products that are safe for nail health.

And, if you want an alternative to nail glue, you can always use the methods shared above.

So, go ahead and take those pretty hand selfies with properly secured and beautiful press-on nails!

Want to discover more nail trends? Check these out:


  • Michelle Alejandro

    Michelle has had a lifelong love affair with makeup. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications /Journalism, she began an illustrious career as a writer. Michelle penned a beauty and lifestyle national newspaper column for over a decade and became the Beauty Editor for Chalk Magazine and Editor-in-Chief for Metro Weddings for over nine years, working with some of the biggest makeup artists and trusted beauty brands in the business. During this time, she also completed a course in Creative Artistic Makeup Design and worked as a freelance makeup artist, beauty editor, and writer.

  • Jasmine Moore

    Jasmine Moore, a licensed nail technician with 3 years of expertise, offers specialized services in Acrylic, Gel X, and Dip Powder applications. Trained by Lena Fam and a graduate of NexGen Nails and Beauty School, Jasmine's accolades include nominations for "Best New Nail Tech" (2021) and "Best Nail Artist" (2023). As the founder of Jazzy Belle Beauty she stays updated on the latest nail trends.

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