If you’re reading this, you’re undoubtedly a fan of acrylic nails and enjoy their longevity, but your acrylic nails are probably beyond their prime. Unfortunately, the same reason you choose acrylics at the nail salon (their durability) also makes it appear difficult to remove them without breaking them—that is, until now.
Whether your salon is closed or you just cannot find the time and your manicure is in desperate need of repair, these foolproof instructions will guide you through the process of removing acrylic nails at home while minimizing the damage left behind. While it is best to leave the removal to a professional manicurist, there are measures you can take to ensure a safe and painless removal—one that does not require picking, tugging, or biting.
“Avoid picking at artificial nails at all costs since you risk removing not just the acrylic but also a layer of your nail,” advises Jin Soon Choi, editorial manicurist, and creator of JINsoon Spas and JINsoon Nail Lacquer. Rather than that, use these methods to melt away your artificial nails without damaging your natural nail totally. “When removing acrylics, the primary goal is to preserve the health and integrity of your nail,” explains Choi. All you need is the appropriate nail file, a small amount of acetone, and an abundance of patience. Here is a step-by-step guide on removing artificial nails.
Step-by-step instructions for removing artificial nails
1. Remove as much acrylic as possible using a file.
Filing is a necessary procedure that will wear away the top coat of nail lacquer, but before you go for your standard nail file, you may want to call in reinforcements. “Two distinct file formats are required,” Choi explains. “Begin with a core grade file to remove the acrylic’s topmost layer, then go to a fine file as you grow thinner to avoid filing your natural nail excessively.”
In comparison to the file you normally use to shape your nails, core-grade files will have a coarser texture. “Using long, delicate strokes, file perpendicular to the nail bed,” Choi recommends. Because the majority of salons use mechanical files, patience is required, but continue buffing until the sheen of the nail polish is entirely removed. This will help the polish and the nail to soften more quickly when the time comes to apply the acetone. “If you use force to remove your artificial nails, you risk damaging the nail bed,” Choi explains.
While you may be tempted to bite your nails while binge-watching your favorite program, Choi warns against it. “Acrylic nails have a high concentration of chemicals, and biting is similar to picking, but you are using your teeth and may swallow particles of the materials used,” Choi explains.
2. Soak nails in acetone for a few minutes.
Would you like to watch your acrylics fade away? Simply get an acetone nail polish remover. To obtain the greatest results, use 100 percent acetone, which is artificial nails’ kryptonite. You can remove the item using one of two methods:
To begin, there is the acetone soak-off. Once the topcoat of polish has been removed, immerse your fingers in a small basin of warm, pure acetone. Assure that your nails are thoroughly submerged in the bowl and leave them there for at least 30 minutes. “Acetone helps to soften the acrylic,” Choi says. “It gently melts the acrylic, allowing for easy removal.” Run the bottle of acetone under warm water to warm it up before pouring it into a dish. Whatever you do, do not attempt to heat it using any other technique, as acetone is very flammable.
The second possibility is to use foil (you might recognize this from when you soak your gel nail polish). If you want to minimize the harm to your skin, you can use the same technique as your salon’s nail artist. “It’s similar to soaking your nails in acetone, only you don’t have to completely immerse your fingertip in acetone,” Choi explains. “The reduction in acetone exposure to your skin is well worth the effort.”
You’ll need cotton balls or cotton pads, 100% acetone, and aluminum foil for this. Soak the cloth in acetone and place it immediately on the nail. Following that, cover the nail with foil to keep it in place for at least 30 minutes. “The foil concentrates the acetone on the acrylic, preventing it from evaporating while you wait,” Choi explains.
3. Remove any leftover fragments with a buffing cloth.
Once the acrylic has dissolved, use a nail file, cuticle pusher, wood stick, or nail buffer to remove any residual fragments of the false nail. “Buff softly rather than filing,” Choi advises. If the remaining bits are stubborn, soak your nails again in acetone for a few minutes and then carefully remove them (important word: gently!).
4. Keep your nails hydrated.
Once all the acrylic has been removed, give your nails and hands some TLC to rehydrate and strengthen your nail beds, especially if they have been soaking in acetone. “Ample moisture is required,” Choi explains. “Cuticle oil, a thick hand cream, a hand mask, or a paraffin treatment are all excellent ways to hydrate your hands and nail beds.” Even if you lack the time for a do-it-yourself manicure, a small amount of hand lotion may perform wonders.
Once the removal procedure is complete, it’s advisable to wait a few days before returning to the manicure salon for a fresh set. “Once in a while, do a nail detox,” Choi advises. “By regularly cleaning and caring for your nails, you may avoid developing nail fungus and germs that might occur as a result of prolonged usage of acrylics.”
While it is usually recommended to leave the removal process to a professional to avoid causing harm to your nails, with a little time and patience, you can restore your natural nails and remove your overgrown manicure. Whether removing acrylics, gel nails, or dip powder nails, the same four guidelines apply: file, soak, buff, and moisturize.