How to Remove Acrylic Nails by Experts

How to Remove Acrylic Nails by Experts

Removing acrylic nails can be a hassle and risky if not done right. Doing it yourself isn’t recommended by nail experts since mistakes could damage your natural nails. But what if you’re in a nail emergency without access to a salon? Our experts have some advice for safely removing acrylic nails at home. It’s important to be patient and careful throughout the process, which takes at least an hour. If it’s your first time, take it slow to get it just right. While more involved than removing gel polish, it’s possible to do it yourself. Here’s a step-by-step guide from our nail pros for anyone looking to tackle this task without professional experience.

How To Remove Acrylic Nails At Home

Acetone is the superhero for getting rid of acrylic nails at home. This powerful liquid breaks down the acrylic, making removal a cakewalk. You may be worried about using something so strong on your skin. While you shouldn’t expose your skin to acetone too much, it’s generally safe except for a bit of dryness and, in rare instances, a slight redness. Just take precautions, and you’ll be good to go. If you’re keen on learning more about soaking off acrylic nails, there’s a helpful video you can check out.

How To Remove Acrylic Nails With An Acetone Soak-Off

How To Remove Acrylic Nails With An Acetone Soak-Off

Here are a couple of ways you can expertly remove acrylic nails using acetone.

Method 1: Removing Acrylic Nails with Acetone and Warm Water

Removing Acrylic Nails with Acetone and Warm Water

The first method involves using acetone to remove your acrylic nails at home. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

What You’ll Need:

  • Warm water
  • Two bowls
  • Tweezers
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Orange sticks
  • Nail clippers
  • Acetone

Step By Step:

  1. Trim your nails as short as you can and gently push back your cuticles with the orange stick.
  2. Set up two bowls—one with acetone and another with warm water. Place the acetone bowl inside the warm water bowl to warm it up gently.
  3. Protect the skin around your nails by applying petroleum jelly generously. This shields them from the harsh effects of acetone.
  4. Dip your nails completely into the acetone bowl and let them soak for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Check if the acrylic nails have softened. Gently use tweezers to pull them off. If they’re still tough to remove, soak them a bit longer instead of forcing them off.

A word of caution on removing acrylic nails at home: “The easiest way is to soak them in acetone. Most nail polish removers contain acetone.” However, be wary of possible skin irritation from acetone, so it’s important to be cautious. You can see the trendy short acrylic nails.

Handy Tip: If you find any small leftover bits of acrylic, grab a soft foam nail buffer to smooth them out.

Method 2: Removing Acrylic Nails with Acetone and Aluminum Foil

Here’s what you’ll need and how to remove acrylic nails step by step:

You’ll Need:

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail buffer or file
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Aluminum foil
  • Acetone
  • Optional (Acrylic Removal Nail Cap Holders)

Step By Step:

  1. Trim the acrylic nails as short as you can.
  2. Use a nail buffer or file to remove any topcoat or nail polish to avoid a messy removal.
  3. Apply petroleum jelly around your cuticles to protect your skin. Then, soak cotton pads in acetone and place them on your nails.
  4. Tear off pieces of aluminum foil and wrap them over the cotton on your nails. You can also use nail holder caps to keep the aluminum in place and retain body heat, speeding up the removal.
  5. Wait for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Gently remove the aluminum foil; the acrylic nails should come off with it. If not, give it a bit more time to wrap up.

This method helps dissolve the acrylic, making it easier to take off without much hassle.

Method 3: Removing Acrylic Nails Using Acetone and Plastic Bags

While it might not be the most eco-friendly approach, this method makes removing acrylic nails pretty straightforward.

You’ll Need:

  • Wooden cuticle stick
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail buffer
  • Acetone
  • A large ziplock bag

Step By Step:

  1. Trim your acrylic nails short, making sure not to cut your real nails by mistake.
  2. Fill a big ziplock bag with enough acetone to fully submerge your nails.
  3. Tilt the bag to gather the acetone in one corner.
  4. Slide your hand into the bag, letting your nails soak in the acetone for 15-20 minutes.
  5. After soaking, gently scrape off the acrylics with a wooden cuticle stick.
  6. If there’s resistance, soak them for an extra 5 minutes and try again.
  7. Use a soft foam buffer to smooth out any remaining bits.

If you’re concerned about using strong products like acetone or have sensitive skin, there are alternative methods using everyday items to remove fake nails without acetone. You can explore those in the following section.

How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home Without Tools

How To Remove Acrylic Nails At Home Without Tools

The pros aren’t big fans of removing acrylic nails at home, especially without any tools. They suggest an electric tool in a salon, but if you’re DIY-ing it, you’ll need at least a nail file. The bright side? A nail file won’t break the bank, costing around five dollars or less.

Here’s how to remove your acrylic nails properly at home with the right tools for nail care.

Step 1: Prepare your Home Salon Setup

Think like a professional manicurist during this process. Begin by creating a tidy and well-ventilated workspace. Since you’ll be using a lot of acetone and removing extensions, it’s wise to protect your surfaces from any potential stains or damage.

Following professional salon practices, experts recommend folding a hand towel in half and placing a paper towel on top. Additionally, opening a window or setting up a fan can help disperse the strong scent of acetone.

Step 2: Trim your Acrylics as Short as you Can

You may not like it, but you’ll have to sacrifice a lot of length. Since doing a home fill on your acrylics might be tricky (which is probably why you’re here), cutting them is your top choice. Get some sharp nail clippers and trim your extensions, leaving about two centimeters above your nail bed for safety. Nail artists say this is the quickest and simplest way to reach your natural nail length.

Step 3: Get Filing

If you’ve got regular polish over your acrylics, you can take it off now with acetone or a standard nail polish remover. But for gel polish, we recommend using the coarse 100-grit side of your file to remove the shiny topcoat. After that, use the coarse side to tackle most of the acrylic. The more acrylic you file off now, the less time you’ll spend soaking in acetone later. Be gentle with your file. Leave a thin layer of acrylic to protect your natural nail from damage.

Step 4: Time to Soak Off Your Acrylics with Acetone

Get ready with your acetone, maybe hold your nose, and let’s dive in. Your acetone should be at least 70-proof or higher for the best results. Lower-grade acetone will work, too, but it might take a bit longer to get the job done.

How to Remove Acrylic Nails Without Acetone

How To Remove Acrylic Nails Without Acetone

Method 1: Removing Acrylic Nails with Nail Polish Remover (Without Acetone)

Curious about ditching acetone to remove acrylic nails? You can do it without acetone, but it takes a bit longer. Your regular nail polish can help do the trick. Here’s how to get those acrylics off without acetone.

You’ll Need:

  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Bowl
  • Acetone-free nail polish remover

Step by Step:

  1. Trim your acrylic nails short.
  2. Use the pointed end of tweezers to gently lift the edges.
  3. Pour acetone-free nail polish remover into a bowl.
  4. Soak your nails in the nail polish remover for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Once the nail feels loose, carefully pull it out with the tweezers. If it’s stubborn, soak it a bit longer.

Handy Tip: Acetone-free nail polish remover can evaporate over time. Keep adding more to the bowl as needed.

Method 2: Use an Electric File or Nail Bit to Remove Acrylic Nails

Use an Electric File or Nail Bit to Remove Acrylic Nails

Want an easy way to remove fake nails? This method, often used by pros, just needs some skill—which you can totally pick up at home. Here’s how to do it:

You’ll Need:

  • Tinfoil
  • Electric nail file
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Cuticle oil
  • Cotton balls
  • Acetone

Step by Step:

  1. Gently use the nail file to sand down the acrylics, removing the top layer carefully.
  2. Soak a cotton pad in acetone and wrap it around each nail.
  3. Cover the cotton with tin foil, making sure it’s completely wrapped.
  4. Wait for 10-15 minutes before unwrapping the foil and removing the cotton.
  5. Use a cuticle pusher to tidy up any remaining acrylic.
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  7. Finish up by moisturizing your nails and cuticles with cuticle oil, just like after a regular manicure.

Handy Tip: Using an electric nail file needs practice and precision to avoid harming your natural nails. Be sure you’re confident before trying this method on your own.

Method 3: Removing Acrylic Nails with Nail Files

Removing Acrylic Nails with Nail Files

Here’s a way to remove acrylic nails without using chemicals: filing them away. It takes time, but it’s gentle on your skin. Interested in learning this method? Here’s how:

You’ll Need:

  • Orange sticks
  • Nail file or buffer
  • Nail clippers
  • Cuticle scissors
  • Cuticle oil

Step by Step:

  1. Remove any color or design and clip your nails as short as possible.
  2. Use long strokes with the file to gradually file down the acrylic until you reach your nail bed. Be cautious and stop before reaching your actual nail bed.
  3. If there are bits left, gently pry the edges with cuticle scissors and clip small pieces at a time.
  4. Once the acrylic is all off, use the orange stick to scrape off any remaining glue.

Handy Tip: This method might be tough on your nails, so follow up with some cuticle oil to keep them healthy.

Method 4: Removing Acrylic Nails Using Hot Water (Without Acetone)

Removing Acrylic Nails Using Hot Water Without Acetone

Here’s one of the easiest and gentlest ways to soak off acrylic nails, and it’s also the safest. If you’re wondering how to remove nail extensions using this method, keep reading.

You’ll Need:

  • Warm water
  • Orange sticks
  • Nail filer
  • Nail clipper

Step By Step:

  1. Trim your nail to the shortest length and gently pry the edges with the stick.
  2. Fill a bowl with warm water, ensuring the temperature is comfortable for a long soak.
  3. Soak your nails in the warm water for at least 30-40 minutes to dissolve the glue. Tilt your nails so the warm water seeps through the inlet you created with the orange stick.
  4. If the nails don’t come off, add more warm water and soak a bit longer.

Handy Tip: Since you need to soak for a while, the water might cool down. Keep adding warm water to maintain a constant warm temperature. Check out this video for a visual guide on how to take off fake nails.

Method 5: Removing Acrylic Nails with Dental Floss

Removing Acrylic Nails with Dental Floss

Head to your bathroom cabinet and grab that dental floss! Besides keeping your teeth clean, it’s also a handy tool for taking off acrylic nails. Just a heads-up, though: you’ll need a helping hand for this method. Here’s how it’s done:

You’ll Need:

  • A partner
  • Dental floss
  • Orange sticks

Step By Step:

  1. Use the orange sticks to create a small gap around your nails.
  2. Get your partner to slide the floss through that gap and gently sit back and forth.
  3. Keep going until the acrylic nail pops off.

Handy Tip: This method might cause discomfort or be a bit painful, so be prepared and take it slow. Patience is key!

Method 6: Removing Acrylic Nails with a Laminated Business Card

Removing Acrylic Nails with a Laminated Business Card

If you’re looking to safely remove acrylics at home without harming your real nails, just grab a laminated card from your purse.

You’ll Need:

  • Orange sticks
  • Laminated card

Step By Step:

  1. Use the orange sticks to create a small gap around the edges of your acrylic nails.
  2. Gently slide the laminated card into the gap, applying gentle upward pressure.
  3. Work on one side at a time to avoid damaging your natural nails. The acrylics should come off easily.

Handy Tip: If you don’t have a laminated business card, a debit or credit card works well for this method, too.

How to Remove Gel Acrylic Nails

How To Remove Gel Acrylic Nails

Using acetone to take off gel extensions is a top-notch method for several reasons. Sure, soaking them in soap and water might work if they’re lifting, but it’s gonna take forever. Skip the waiting game and follow these five straightforward steps to handle it at home. You can see these classy short nail designs.

  • Step1: Trim and File Your Nails

Once trimmed, buff the surface with a coarse file or an electric one if you have it. Roughing up the top layer helps speed up the removal.

  • Step2: Soak in Acetone

If your extensions are long, cutting them first will speed things up. Take a peek underneath to make sure you’re only cutting the extension, not your natural nail.

Get yourself some 100 percent pure acetone for the best and quickest results. There are two ways to remove the gel extensions. First, fill a small glass bowl with enough acetone to cover your nails and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Patience is key here, so cue up your favorite show and relax.

If you don’t fancy soaking, grab foil, cotton, and acetone. Soak a cotton ball in acetone, attach it to your nail, and wrap both in foil. Repeat for each nail, leaving them wrapped for about 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Step 3: Gently Scrape Off the Extensions

When the time’s up, the extensions should be dissolving. Use an orange stick to gently scrape them off. If it hurts or you’re pulling too hard, go back to soaking with acetone. Repeat until you can gently remove all the gel extensions and glue. Being rough before the gel’s fully dissolved can harm your natural nails.

  • Step 4: Buff Your Natural Nails

Once the gel’s off, lightly buff your nails to remove any remaining glue.

  • Step 5: Moisturize Your Nails

Finish up by moisturizing your nails with cuticle oil or petroleum jelly. If your natural nails look good after the removal, feel free to paint them or even put on a new gel set.

How To Safely Remove Acrylic Nails 

  • Step 1: The First Thing Is to Cut Most of the Length

Be careful not to cut your actual nail. Use an acrylic nail cutter if you have one. But if not, large toenail clippers work, too, because they’re usually stronger. Start clipping from one side and move across, avoiding straight cuts.

  • Step 2: Smooth Out the Acrylic

Next, grab two nail files—one coarse for the top layer of acrylic and a finer one as you get closer to your natural nail. Keep filing gently until the nail’s shine is gone. It might take a bit of patience. Just watch out not to overdo it. Buffing excessively to remove leftover bits can weaken the nail.

  • Step 3: Get the Acetone

The next move? Yep, acetone. Lee offers two methods. First, warm a bottle of acetone under the faucet, pour it into a bowl, and soak your fingers for 30 minutes. Alternatively, if you prefer less acetone contact, You can go with the foil method, which salons often use. Soak a cotton ball in acetone, place it on your nail, then wrap foil around your finger, ensuring it seals in the cotton ball.

  • Step 4: Check Your Progress

After 30 minutes, check your nails. If the acrylic has dissolved enough, gently file away any remaining bits with the finer grit nail file. If there are still some stubborn bits, soak for five more minutes and try again.

  • Step 5: Keep Hydrated

A top tip: Keep Vitamin E Cuticle Oil handy because acetone really dries out your nails and skin. Start with the once-a-day application or more if your skin feels extra dry.


Acrylic nails can take your style up a notch, but saying goodbye to them isn’t always easy. Luckily, these straightforward tips cover how to remove acrylic nails at home. With acetone, it’s simpler than you think. These steps and precautions not only help in easy removal but also in safeguarding your nails. Embrace these TLC steps for healthier nails. With these tips, you can enjoy stunning acrylics without fretting about any harm to your nails.

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