Home Nails What Can I Use Instead Of Nail Foil Glue?

What Can I Use Instead Of Nail Foil Glue?

by Gabbi

Nail foils are a dream come true for anyone who likes variety and three-dimensional shine in their nail designs. 

If you’re not familiar, nail foils are strips of colorful foils that have pre-printed designs on them. These designs are usually sparkly, glittery, metallic, and flashy. It would take you hours to create these designs on your nails by hand.

But with nail foils, it only takes a few minutes to apply these gorgeous designs onto your nails. Typically, you have to use special nail foil glue to brush it over your nails and then dab the nail foils over it. The glue picks up thin layers of the design and imprints them on your nails.

If you forgot to buy the glue or you recently ran out – don’t worry. There are a few other things you can use that you likely already have at the house! 

So, what can you use instead of nail foil glue? A few great alternatives to use nail foil glue are clear nail polish, gel polish, and even school glue. However, each method has its pros and cons.

You’ve come to the right place. In this post, we will discuss how you can use alternatives to nail foil glue, like clear nail polish, gel polish, or even crafter’s glue – to safely and effectively apply nail foils when you’re in a bind!

How Nail Foil Glue Works

Before we dive into nail foil glue alternatives, it’s important to understand how nail foil glue works. This makes it easier to come up with other products you have around the house that could work in a similar way.

When doing nail foils, you typically follow these steps:

  1. Prep your nails by trimming, removing cuticles, and buffing the nails.
  2. Apply base coat and nail polish of choice (you can use regular or gel polish).
  3. Once your nails are dry, apply a thin layer of nail foil glue to each nail.
  4. Allow it to dry for about a minute – usually, nail glue becomes transparent once it’s ready for the next step.
  5. Press the matte side of your foil onto the nail. You can use different techniques here, like dabbing the foil over the nail, or pressing it across the whole nail at once, to achieve different effects.
  6. When you pull the foil away, you’ll notice that a thin layer of the design is imprinted on the surface of the dried nail glue.
  7. When you’re happy with the design, cover it with a clear layer of topcoat polish.

For a visual tutorial and some great hacks, here’s a great video from Paola Ponce Nails on YouTube.

As you can see, if you have nail foil glue, the process of applying foils is super easy!

So what makes the nail foil glue so good at making the foil design imprint on it? The trick is that when the nail foil glue dries, it’s a bit tacky on the surface. The tackiness allows the foil to stick to it and retain some of the foil material when you remove the foil sheet.

If you’re out of nail foil glue or foil transferring gel, you need something else that you can put on your nails instead. Something that will have a similar tacky texture when it dries.

This brings us to a few different products that you might already have at home. They all work as great substitutes for nail foil glue, albeit some of them call for a slightly different technique. 

Clear Nail Polish Or Protector

Clear nail polish can achieve a similarly tacky texture as nail foil glue if you time it correctly. 

If you don’t have nail foil glue, check your cabinets for some clear nail polish. Any regular clear polish, topcoat, or protector should do.

During our research, we found that this nail protector is very popular online as a substitute for nail foil glue. Something about the way it dries makes it extra tacky, and foils stick to it like glue!

To use clear nail polish or protector instead of nail foil glue, follow the steps below:

  1. Prep your nails by trimming, removing cuticles, and buffing the nails.
  2. Apply your base coat and nail polish of choice.
  3. When it’s fully dry, apply a thin layer of your clear nail polish or topcoat.
  4. Allow it to dry just enough where it’s still a little bit tacky. You can test it by gently dabbing your finger over it to see how it feels.
  5. Once it’s the right level of tackiness, press the matte side of your foil onto the nail to create a design.
  6. Remove the foil and allow it to dry.
  7. Once dry, cover with another coat of clear top coat to seal it in.

This technique works well once you have the hang of it. In the beginning, you might need to do some trial and error to figure out how long the clear polish needs to dry in order to work as glue.

If you don’t wait long enough, you risk leaving smears and fingerprints on the nail. If you wait too long, the polish might be too dry for any of the foils to stick to it.

Feel free to experiment with this method until it works for you!

Gel Polish

The good thing about gel polish is that it’s naturally tacky until you put a top coat over it. Gel polish also gets cured using UV light, so it’s not going to get smeared from you pressing foils on it, making it a perfect substitute for nail foil glue.

Of course, you need to have access to gel nail polish and a UV lamp, which not everyone has. But if you do – you’re in luck, because applying foils with gel polish is super easy. Follow the steps below:

  1. Prep your nails by trimming, removing cuticles, and buffing the nails
  2. Apply gel base coat and cure for 30 seconds. 
  3. Follow up with 1-2 layers of gel polish of your choice, curing for 30 seconds after each layer
  4. Dab or press your nail foils over the last layer of gel polish (before the top coat step), your nails will be hard, but tacky, and the foils will stick really well
  5. Once you’re happy with the foil design, cover it with a layer of gel topcoat and cure for 60 seconds to seal everything in

Gel polish makes it easy to mimic the stickiness of nail foil glue, without having to worry about timing. You also don’t have to worry about smearing the nail polish while trying to apply nail foils because the nail polish you’re working with will have cured.

School Glue

Yes, if you’re completely out of nail foil glue or clear nail polish, or gel nail polish, you might be able to use regular school glue for your nail foils.

We’re talking Elmer’s Glue or something similar, like crafting glue or washable glue. Don’t use any kind of super glue!

School glues are safe for the nails and easy to remove. They are tacky enough when dried for the right amount of time to transfer foil designs onto.

But the problem with this type of glue is that it’s usually very thick. If you try to brush school glue onto your nails, it will look white and streaky.

So if you’re going to put school glue on your nails, make sure to mix it with some water first, making the glue thinner and closer to nail-polish consistency.

Here’s how you can use school glue to do nail foils:

  1. Prep your nails by trimming, removing cuticles, and buffing the nails
  2. Apply your nail polish of choice and allow it to fully dry
  3. Mix the school glue with some water. We recommend sticking to the 2:1 glue to water ratio and using a small cap to mix them together
  4. Once the glue has a similar consistency to nail polish, brush it over your nails in a thin layer
  5. Allow it to dry for 30-60 seconds until it’s mostly dry, but a little bit tacky
  6. Dab or press your nail foils over the glue to create the design you want
  7. Allow the glue and foil to fully dry
  8. Apply a clear top coat over the foils and allow to fully dry to seal everything in

If mixed and dried properly, the school glue will behave just like nail foil glue. To remove school glue, you can use acetone. If the glue and foils are hard to remove, you can soak your nails in a bowl of warm water with a little bit of dish soap to help loosen the glue bonds.

Final Thoughts

Although nail foil glue makes it easier to apply nail foils to your nails, you certainly don’t need. Any kind of clear and sticky substance can work – as long as it’s safe for your skin and nails, of course. 

We find that gel polish and clear nail polish work the best, however, regular glue works as well, as a last resort. Many of these methods will take some trial and error to figure out the correct timing.

We hope this blog helps you with some ideas to substitute your nail foil glue next time you’re in a pinch! Enjoy your gorgeous nails.

Related Articles

Is Nail Glue Toxic?

Can You Use Super Glue As Nail Glue?

Can You Use Eyelash Glue For Fake Nails?

You may also like

Leave a Comment