I like my fake nails to clearly say to my boyfriend: I cannot partake in housework for the next week because the length of my nails is a handicap.
I like to physically prevent myself from doing my work as a journalist because I cannot access the keyboard to type articles.
I like it to feel like death when one nail gets ripped off whilst I pull up my tights without thinking.
Over my time as a cheap fake nails fan, I have gone through many packets from many different shops in order to bring you a comprehensive guide to buying nails. And, without wanting to spoil the ending, unfortunately spending more will ultimately bring you more joy.
What I don’t like is to pay for them to be professionally done. I am both Extra and a Cheapskate. My boyfriend is a lucky man.
I’ve tried, wrestled with, and come to terms with fake nails from three shops that you will find everywhere in Britain and some in Europe: Claire’s, Primark, and (the very English) Superdrug.
I’ll start with the cheapest, in case you’re just really desperate to know if you can get your pointy nails for a pound.
(Hint: you can)
I have a lot of love for anywhere I can buy a duvet for a fiver and with that in mind, I love Primark. Their ethics are for a different article, but Primark is the place to be when you can a purse full of spare change. Count your pennies, we’re going shopping.
Firstly, one of the positives is that you can literally get whatever design your heart desires. Want nails with a 3D crown on the middle finger? No worries! It’s almost like going to Build-a-Bear for your nails… except you don’t need a pay-day loan to buy anything. Living in France without a Primark anywhere near me, when I was back in England I stocked up: white marble nails, matte pink; stiletto, square, cut at the tip. And yes, I did buy the packet with the 3D crown on the middle finger.
As you might expect, on the downside is the quality. Of everything.
The nails absolutely look like they’re made out of Tesco bags and the glue will tear the skin off your fingers yet not hold the fake nail on the real one for more than twenty minutes.
But, on the plus side, the colour didn’t fade or chip. So you might have nails collecting in the bottom of your handbag from every time you rummage for your keys but at least they still look like they did in the package.
Ah, Claire’s. The perfect place for your inner eight year old. I have a lot of time for Claire’s.
And, you’ll be happy to know, for their fake nails.
The glue is much stronger than that of Primark – although it’s thicker too and does make your nail stick up about a metre from your real nail – and the quality of plastic looks much more real. Their sizes are fairly accurate and varied, catering for both tiny nails like mine and larger ones.
The only downside is their selection of patterns. Being a brand that focuses more on pre-teens and teens, you’re unlikely to find a large variety of nails that feel appropriate for work, tinder dates, and Thursday night cocktails. But if you’re feeling frisky, there are some wild blue and pink patterns that are completely appropriate for New Years and your birthday. Otherwise, you might find yourself matching your nearest twelve year old.
But twelve year olds are neat, so maybe that’s ok.
Let it be known that I have only tried one packet of fake nails from Superdrug. And this was because my mum bought them for me for Christmas (otherwise I never even would have thought to check Superdrug for their selection). However, I have to say that I’m impressed.
First of all, friends thought they were real nails. And that never happens. Something about the size, quality, and shape of the nails makes them ultimately more realistic than other brands.
Secondly, the glue was my Goldilocks: not too thick but still held strong. Anyone who’s worn fake nails knows that half the time you spend admiring their beauty and half the time you spend sticking them back on. But not so with Superdrug nails! Over the Christmas period, originally to please my mum I wore them constantly – and within a day or so I fell in love with how well they stuck. After four days, I hadn’t had one awkward naked-nail incident. I’d showered, been drunk, worn tights and other awkward clothing, and chopped vegetables with these nails and stillthey stuck.
I have no major downsides to the Superdrug nails, except their price in comparison. But if you have an extra £7 lying around, I definitely recommend seeking out a Superdrug in place of a Primark.
That said, you could get eight different styles of nails for the same price of one at Superdrug…