Tired of your grown out acrylic talons but no time or money to go to the beauty salon? The current circumstances has led to a lot of interest about how to remove acrylic nails at home and it’s a skill worth having. After all, if you can safely remove your acrylic nails instead of picking at them and taking off nail layers in the process… What’s not to like?
In order to remove acrylic nails from home you’ll need an acetone soak. There are people who claim to remove acrylic nails with floss or alcohol or a variety of other methods. For me, acetone is the only one that works reliably and keeps my nails healthy. It stinks a bit and it can dry out the skin on your fingers, so keep a good nail oil handy for afterwards. You can also use a mechanical nail file to remove acrylic nails at home, but unless you are a trained professional you would be risking doing damage to your nails.
Always work in a well ventilated space to avoid inhaling the fumes. In fact, a well ventilated space is vital if you want to do your own gel manicure or try your hand at acrylics, so it’s worth getting your family used to seeing you do your nails in the kitchen instead of hiding in the bathroom.
Most long lasting types of manicures such as gel or dip powder use a similar removal process, so learning the process will come in handy!
What Else Do You Need To Remove Acrylic Nails With Acetone
Besides 100% acetone nail polish remover, you will need a few more tools to get rid of your acrylic nails at home. They are:
- nail clippers
- 100 and 80 grit nail files
- an orange stick or cuticle metal pusher
- cotton balls and foil or a small bowl
- a hot wet towel (you can heat a wet towel in the microwave, just make sure not to get acetone near the microwave as it’s very flammable!)
It is important to set up the right working space for this process, which can take easily half an hour. A table in a well ventilated area works best, preferably covered with a cloth to prevent acetone stains. Many people use a table fan to avoid the acetone fumes stinking you out for the half an hour, but that’s optional and an open window can work too.
Do not try to do this while perching a bowl of acetone on the sink with a closed door. It is not safe and you can end up with very irritated eyes and respiratory system, and make a mess of with stained towels.
How To Remove Acrylic Nails: Prep
The following steps are common to the two methods to remove acrylic nails with acetone I am writing about.
Cut Down Acrylic Nail Extensions
In order to speed up the acrylic removal process, you want to get rid of most of the length of your acrylic extensions. Use the nail clipper to carefully clip your nail extensions above your natural nail. Be careful not to actually pull the nail by cutting too close. Usually a 2cm distance to the nail bed is safe.
File Down The Acrylic
If you have regular nail polish on top of your acrylic nails, use a regular nail polish remover to get rid of it. If you have gel nail polish on top of the acrylic, use the 100 grit nail file to slowly and carefully file the gel and most of the acrylic down. You want to get rid of as much of the acrylic as possible without actually hurting your nail bed, so stop when there is a thin layer of acrylic left on your nail.
Remove Acrylic Nails With Foil
You can remove acrylic nails with foil wraps (or reusable soak off nail clips if you don’t like using foil) and cotton balls. It’s a pretty easy system once you get the hang of wrapping your nails with the foil with your non dominant hand, and will get the acrylics off in about 10-15 minutes.
Soak a cotton ball on acetone until it’s fully saturated. Use a foil wrap (or the easier to use nail clips) to tightly wrap the ball against your nail. It should drip a bit of acetone if you squeeze it, if not you need to saturate the cotton a bit more.
Now you’ll need to wait for about 10 minutes without touching your foil wrapped nails. If you have a warm towel, you can put it over your fingers as heat will help acetone work quicker.
After 10 minutes have passed, remove the foil by pressing it against your nail and sliding it up. It should take most if not all of the polish with it. If it doesn’t, resist the temptation to scratch away at the acetone. Just wrap your fingers again for another 10 minutes.
If most of the polish went away with the cotton ball, you are ready for the next step.
If this process sounds familiar, is because you use a similar one to remove gel nails or get rid of powder dip manicures at home.
Soak Off Acrylic Nails In a Bowl
If you can’t get the hang of foil wrapping your fingers, or just want a more relaxed soaking experience you can also use a bowl of acetone to submerge your digits into. This will dry your fingertips more than the foil method, and will take longer: 20 to 30 minutes.
This method has the advantage that you can see your nails and rub them to help speed up the break up of the acetone. However, it smells quite strongly and you absolutely need a very well ventilated space. A fan will make things much more healthy, safe and comfortable.
Once you see the acrylic breaking down easily and sliding away from your nails when you rub, is time for the next step.
Scrape The Remains Of Acrylic Off Your Nails
Gently, very gently, use the orange wood stick or the cuticle scrapper to scrape the remaining acrylic nail polish from your nails. Start at the cuticle, and very gently scrape towards the edge of your nail. If the polish doesn’t go away easily, you may need to soak for a bit longer. Any further residue can be cleaned by lightly buffing your nail surface.
It is very important not to abuse your nail beds by being too rough. If the acrylic nail polish is still bonded to the nail the best solution is to use more acetone to get rid of it. Not to scrape strongly and risk damaging your actual nails.
Hydrate And Nourish Your Nails
No matter how gentle you are, the acetone and the scrapping will most likely do a number on your nails, and they may be feeling pretty dry and weak. This is where the cuticle oil comes in: wash your hands carefully to remove any remains of acrylic or acetone, and apply a good cuticle oil and hand cream to nurse them back to health.
Some people choose to have a gel manicure or another acrylic manicure right away, but this is also a good chance to let your nails rest for a bit. Use a hardening base nail polish if you are not feeling like rocking bare nails, or a treatment for weak nails to help them recover. The OPI Gel Break range is a good option if you want your hands to look tidy, but not bare. Alternatively, the Japanese Manicure will help your nails become stronger.
Learning how to remove acrylic nails at home is a very useful skill to have. You never know when you won’t have access to a salon or the funds to get them sorted professionally. But it pays to be as careful as a nail technician would be and avoid unnecessary damage to your nails by doing it the right way.