How to remove acrylic nails at home safely

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Removing manicure

If you ever had a set of acrylic nails done then you are very much aware of the fact that they are a beautiful, long-lasting godsend up until the point when it’s the time to take them off. Then they suddenly become your worst nightmare. Acrylics are incredibly sturdy and an ill-considered attempt to remove them oftentimes results in ruining your natural nail plate. In order to save you from this fate, we’ve prepared a quick guide on how to remove acrylic nails without making a scratchy, bitey, acetone-soaked disaster out of your hands!

How to remove acrylics – preparation

Before we start gathering the necessary products and strength to proceed with the plan, we must have this talk with you. Yes, it is possible to get off acrylic nails at home, and yes, you can do so without inflicting damage. However, visiting a professional nail technician will always be the safest and most convenient way of getting rid of an old set. Nail techs are trained and skilled, have all the necessary tools and products, finally – they have the patience to make the whole process absolutely painless and 100% safe. If it is possible for you to visit a nail specialist, we encourage you to do so – using the convenient Booksy app or website you can find the best nail salons near you, regardless of your budget or location.

If you are still insisting on doing this yourself, prepare:

    • A nail clipper
    • A 100% acetone polish remover
    • A sturdy nail file (100-grit will be best)
    • A small bowl OR cotton balls and aluminium foil
    • A metal cuticle pusher
    • A foam nail buffer
    • A lot of patience

Regarding the last part – you may be wondering how long does it take to remove acrylic nails and it is actually a very good question. An experienced nail technician can safely remove acrylics in about 30 minutes, however, doing so at home usually takes at least 45 minutes up to an hour.

Finally, make sure that you are in a well-ventilated area, as acetone fumes can be quite irritating for the respiratory system!

Step 1: Carefully clip off the excess

If your acrylics are long enough and you can see where your natural nails end underneath them, carefully clip off the excess. Skip this step if it’s not possible or if you do not feel comfortable doing so.

Step 2: Fill off as much of the acrylic as you can

Using the nail file thin out the acrylic plate. It’s important to keep doing so at least until all the shine is gone – this means that the top layer of the acrylic is gone so it will be much easier to dissolve in acetone. Remember to use a sturdy, coarse file – preferably a 100-grit.

Step 3: Prepare the acetone bath OR foil wraps

Now you have to decide whether you prefer to soak your nails in acetone or prepare wraps out of aluminium foil and cotton balls. Acetone bath is easier to prepare, but the nails will take longer to dissolve and it can be more damaging to your plates and skin. The wrapping technique requires some more preparation but is generally safer and more effective (and less unpleasant).

Tip: When playing with acetone, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area – it’s very potent and breathing it in may cause serious irritation. It’s especially important if you are using the acetone bath method.

If you are going for the acetone bath, pour the 100% acetone nail polish remover into the small bowl and soak the tip of your fingers in it for about 30 minutes. Check if the acrylics started to dissolve and keep nails in the bowl for a little longer if not.

If you are going for the foil wrap technique, soak the cotton balls in acetone and place them on your nails directly, wrapping them with the aluminium foil to seal them in and hold in place. Remove after around 30 minutes.

Due to its rather unpleasant nature, you may be curious whether it is possible to take off acrylic nails without acetone. The answer is yes – and no. Technically, you could remove the acrylic plate with a buffer and metal cuticle pusher alone, however, it’s very hard and takes a really long time to do. You are also especially prone to ruining your natural plate. If you are concerned about the side effects of acetone usage, opt for the foil wrap technique and make sure to apply a lot of hand cream after the entire procedure. If you do not feel comfortable doing all of these, seriously consider visiting a professional nail tech in your area instead!

Step 4: Remove remaining pieces of the acrylic

Very gently (!) scrape off the rest of the acrylic polish with a metal cuticle pusher. It should be softened by the acetone – if it isn’t, let your nails sit in the acetone for a little bit longer.

Step 5: Buff away anything that’s left

Finally, use a foam nail buffer to get rid of any residue. Don’t be harsh – it’s very easy to overdo this step, making your natural nail plate dangerously thin as a result.

Once all the steps are done, wash your hands thoroughly, apply a healthy layer of hand cream and cuticle oil. Then let your nails rest a little bit and you can start gathering inspiration for your next beautiful set of acrylics!