How to Remove Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are more than just fashion accessories. They are becoming a trend and a way of life for many. Manufacturers are increasingly becoming creative, leading to a diversity of shapes and designs. As long as you are a fan, you will certainly find the right manicure that speaks to your tastes. This example of nail art can last up to a month when properly cared for. However, there comes a time when you have to remove them—don’t bother asking when; you’ll know. 

The easiest way to remove acrylic nails is to take a walk, drive, or hail a taxi to the nail salon. But, that's probably not why you are here. Perhaps, you are looking for other ways to do this without leaving the comfort of your home. This can save you stress and money. Thanks  to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures, you may be attempting to get rid of your fake nails yourself. But, your head is screaming that you might cause lasting damage to your own nails. 

Don’t fret, that’s why we are here! Thankfully, there is more than one way of doing this. So, simply choose the method you’re most comfortable with and follow the steps. We will divide this into two parts. The first part involves the use of acetone, while the second part involves acetone-free methods.

Method One: Classic Acetone Soak-and-Push

This method is basic and the most popular to DIY. However, it requires lots of repetition, which can easily become boring. There is also the danger of trying to rush the entire process. To pull this off, you will need these nail products:

  • Cuticle nipper
  • Nail clipper
  • Acetone (100%)
  • Metal pusher
  • Nail buffer or nail file
  • Cuticle oil


  1. Get rid of embellishments: If you are wearing an acrylic nail with glitters or any other form of nail design, the first thing you have to do is to get rid of them using cuticle nippers. 
  2. Clip off excess acrylics: The first thing you need to do is to use your nail clipper to cut off excess acrylic. Cut as close to your natural nails as possible. 
  3. Buffer the surface: The next thing you will want to do is to use the hard side of the nail buffer to rough up the surface of the top coat. The aim is to allow the polish to better soak up the acetone. 
  4. Soak in acetone: Pour your 100% acetone into a bowl or tray. Then, dip your nails in it for 5 minutes. 
  5. Get your metal pusher into use: Remove your nails from the acetone and use a metal pusher to clean off the nail polish. The direction of cleaning should be from the cuticle to the edge. If you do it the other way, you may accidentally harm your cuticle. 
  6. Repeat the soak: With the nail polish out of the way, dip your nails into the bowl or tray containing the 100% acetone for another 5 minutes. The acrylic will soak up the acetone, making them soft. Remove your nails and push using a metal pusher.
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the entire acrylic is gone. 
  8. Any small acrylic powder pieces left can be removed using a buffer. File the edges of the nails if needed.
  9. Apply cuticle oil and massage it into your nails using the soft side of a buffer. 

Acetone causes the drying of nails, which could make them brittle. This is why it is crucial to rehydrate the nails using a moisturizer at the end of your artificial nails removal session to protect your nail growth. By now, you should have your shiny natural nails back. Another pro nail technician tip that you can try is to warm up the acetone before you begin. However, you need to bear in mind that acetone is flammable. So, don’t try to heat or microwave it. Simply place the bottle in warm water for a few minutes.

Method Two: Cotton Ball Wrap

If you are a natural workaholic, any method with less effort and a similar outcome will be your natural favorite. Cotton ball wrap is a more professional way of removing acrylic nails—but you can learn it too. To literally become a pro in the act of nail removal, here is what you will need:

  • Sanding bit
  • Acetone (100%)
  • Cotton balls
  • Tinfoil 
  • Cuticle oil
  • Metal pusher


  1. Get to work with sanding bits: Use the sanding bit to rough up your natural nude until the top surface has eroded. This is assuming there are no embellishments on your nails. If there are, don’t forget to get them off first using a cuticle nipper.  
  2. Soak the cotton balls: Once the cotton balls are wet with the 100% acetone, wrap them over your nails.
  3. Get secretive: The next thing you should do is to swaddle your nails in tinfoil. Make sure your digits are well hidden in the foil. The foil will lead to the buildup of heat that helps the acetone to dissolve the acrylic. 
  4. Set your fingers free: Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes then unwrap your fingers. The acrylic should be gone at this point. Get rid of any residual acrylic using a metal or cuticle pusher.
  5. Rinse your hands thoroughly
  6. Apply cuticle oil and gently massage into your nails.

As much as this is a cleaner and more professional way of getting rid of acrylic nails, it is almost impossible for you to pull it off entirely on your own. After wrapping the nails on the one hand with foil, you will need someone to help you wrap the other hand, or you may undo what you have done—unless you have hidden superpowers. 

If you have sensitive skin or bruises around your cuticle, acetone may be a terrible option. When you browse through a myriad of websites, they often make acetone the only option. However, the truth is that it is only the fastest option. Here are a few steps you can use to get rid of the acrylic nail without acetone.

Method One: Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

Acetone-free nail polish remover is not very popular but not impossible to find. However, you need to do this only when you have ample time on your hands because it is highly time-consuming. For this method you will need; 

  • Tweezers
  • Acetone-free nail polish remover
  • Nail clipper
  • Bowl 
  • Nail buffer
  • Cuticle oil


  1. Get rid of excess: If you have long nails, you need to clip them as much as possible using a nail clipper.
  2. Create a weak spot: Unlike in acetone, you need to help the remover get under the acrylic. Use tweezers to pry the edges of your acrylic to create an opening for the liquid to easily sip through. 
  3. Soak in the acetone-free remover: Pour the acetone-free remover into a bowl and put your nails in it for 30 to 40 minutes or as long as required.
  4. Once you feel the acrylic has become loose, use the tweezers to pull it gently. Don’t pull too hard, rather, soak some more. 
  5. Rinse your hands. 
  6. Moisturize your nails.

Acetone-free removers do evaporate after some time. Therefore, you may need to top up the level of your bowl from time to time while you wait for it to come off. This is a time-consuming process but rewarding—particularly if you react to acetone.

Method Two: Nail Buffer

Yes, it is what you are thinking. File the acrylic nails away. Simple and straightforward, right? It is highly time-consuming and can be a little messy. In the end, you will achieve the same goal. It’s a little price to pay for ditching acetone. Here you will need: 

  • Nail buffer
  • Nail clipper
  • Cuticle nipper
  • Cuticle oil


  1. Get rid of excess: Chop off most of the nails until it is as close to the natural nail as possible. Also, you should use the cuticle nippers to get rid of glitters and embellishments. You want the acrylic as clean as possible. 
  2. Start the hard work: Use long strokes to file away the acrylic. Once you feel you are close to your nail bed, slow down. You don’t want to file off your natural nails. 
  3. Clean off leftovers: Use a cuticle nipper to pry the edges of any piece of acrylic that is left and clip them off. Do this in small pieces.. 
  4. Finish off with cuticle oil. Massage it into the nails and cuticle using the soft part of the buffer.

You may never try the last method—in fact, we prefer that you didn’t. Besides being time-consuming, this method is potentially harmful. In fact, all the methods that don’t involve acetone are potentially harmful because they require the application of some level of force. 

Acrylic nails are beautiful, and we know that you can’t do without them. However, after taking off your acrylic, give your natural nail at least a week to heal from any bruise it might have sustained from the last adventure before going back to your favorite manicurist or nail artist. 


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