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How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home Safely

DIY nail removal is an easy way to save some time and some coins.
May 29, 2023
How To Remove Acrylic Nails


There’s no denying that trying creative and fun nail designs is one of our favorite beauty indulgences, but when you’re doing it with acrylic nails there can be some challenges. Despite the entry of gel nails, dip powder and builder gel nails into the manicure arena, we still love acrylics for their staying power. 

For that same reason, they’re not exactly the easiest to remove on your own once you’re ready for your next beauty look (pop art nails anyone?). You definitely can’t just rip them off — you’ll regret it if you try. And trying to slip a Metrocard or thin plastic sheet under the acrylic to pop it off is a true act of personal torture (New Yorkers know what I’m talking about). 

You can head to the salon and have a nail technician remove your acrylics then have them redo your nails for you, which is what most experts will say is the safest way to remove any professionally done manicure. But if the last few years have taught us anything, we know that going to the salon or your favorite nail tech isn’t always going to be an option. We’ve had to take matters into our own hands — literally. 

While there are key differences between gel and acrylic nails
, the removal process is pretty similar and we’re sharing a few of our favorite methods for at-home acrylic nail removal, including how to remove acrylic nails without acetone.
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How Do I Remove Acrylic Nails at Home?

While learning how to take off acrylic nails may seem intimidating, it may actually be simpler than figuring out how to get nail glue off of your skin. There are a few tried-and-true methods when it comes to how to remove acrylic nails safely and easily. Whether you’re rocking a classic French mani on almond-shaped tips or just indulged in some cool neon nails, you can take your pick from different removal options.

What Is the Safest Way to Remove Acrylics?

One of the most common and foolproof ways to remove acrylics without damaging your natural nails is to do an acetone soak. This is typically the same process that’s used at salons. As for what it entails, exactly, simply follow the steps below.


What you’ll need: 

1. Nail clippers

2. Nail file

3. Acetone nail polish remover

4. Petroleum jelly

5. Cotton balls

6. Aluminum foil

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How to Remove Acrylic Nails With Acetone

Step 1. Use a nail clipper to cut your acrylics as short as possible. The less nail you're left to work with, the better. 

Step 2. File and buff the tops of your nails to remove any nail polish that was applied on top of your acrylics. Prep your cuticles for your acetone soak by applying some cuticle oil or petroleum jelly to the base of your nail beds and your fingers. 

Step 3. Saturate a cotton ball with acetone nail polish remover and place it on top of and around your nail. Then wrap the nail with a piece of aluminum foil and let the soaking begin. Repeat for each nail. 

Step 4. Let your foil-wrapped nails sit for about 20 minutes or so (now would be the perfect time to catch up on your favorite TV show or podcast). 

Step 5. Once the time is up, gently lift the aluminum foil on one of your nails. If the acrylic doesn't start to come off easily, leave your nails to soak for an additional five to ten minutes or until the acrylic flakes off without force.

Can You Take Off Acrylic Nails Without Acetone?

If you’re wondering how to remove acrylic nails without acetone, we’ve got you covered. Try the nail removal technique below.

What you’ll need: 

1. Nail clippers 

2. Tweezers

3. Cuticle stick

4. Acetone-free nail polish remover

5. A bowl

How Do You Take Off Acrylic Nails Without Acetone?

Step 1. Again, begin by clipping your nails as short as possible.


Step 2. Using a pair of tweezers or a cuticle stick, gently pry and lift the edges of your acrylics. Operative word: Gently.


Step 3. Pour some acetone-free nail polish remover into a bowl, making sure to pour enough so your nails can be fully submerged, and put your fingers in.


Step 4. Let your nails soak for 30 to 40 minutes or more if needed.


Step 5. When the nail starts to loosen, reach for your tweezers once more to pull the acrylics off your actual nails. This process may take longer but won’t leave your nails and cuticles as brittle and dry as acetone can.

How Do You Take Off Acrylic Nails Quickly?

Another way to remove your acrylic nails sans acetone is to use a bit of dental floss. Yes, you read that right — dental floss. This thin piece of string can be used for more than just keeping your teeth and gums healthy. It’s the way to go if you want to remove acrylic nails fast. That said, this technique can cause damage to your natural nails, so it’s best used when your acrylic has already begun to lift or come loose.

What you’ll need: 

1. Cuticle stick 

2. Dental floss 

3. Someone to assist

How to Take Off Acrylic Nails Without Soaking Them First? 

Enlist the help of your roommate, partner, or a friend. You’ll need another person for most of this removal process.

Step 1. Grab your cuticle stick and gently lift the edges of your acrylics with it. If your acrylic nails have already begun to lift, you may not need to do much for this step. 

Step 2. After the edges of your acrylic nails have been lifted, have your assistant insert a piece of dental floss under it. Carefully move the floss down the nail in a sawing motion until the acrylic pops off. And just like that, watch them come off seamlessly.

What to Do After You Remove Acrylic Nails

Now that you’ve gotten those acrylics off, let’s talk after care. Follow these tips to ensure that you’re left with strong and healthy nails once those acrylics come off.

1. Buff Your Nails

When you remove your acrylics, you may be left with some residue. Use a glass nail file to buff the tops of your nails and smooth the edges. This will keep your nails smooth and free of jagged texture that can snag clothing, skin and other delicate objects.

2. Hydrate Your Nail Beds

Your cuticles will also be needing some love so apply cuticle oil generously to soften and care for them (and your entire nail bed). 

3. Hydrate Your Hands

Finally, show your hands some TLC and reach for a hydrating hand cream to wrap your skin in soothing moisture.

What to Use on Your Nails After Acrylic Removal

No aftercare process is effective without the right tools. Invest in the following must-haves to ensure that once you’ve taken off your acrylics, your nails (and hands) look and feel healthy.

1. Cuticle Oil

This is important to keep on hand whether you’re removing a manicure or not. Cuticle oil is an essential part of nail care (aftercare especially) and should be used before, during and after a manicure to keep your cuticles and nail beds soft and moisturized.

2. Hand Cream

Since hand cream is such an important body care product to keep close by you may already have your fair share, but just in case you don’t, this would be a great time to stock up. Your hands will get especially dry from acetone polish remover (and sometimes non-acetone too) so it’s key to slather your hands in a hydrating cream or lotion after you safely remove your acrylic nails.

3. SPF

You probably saw this one coming, but we could never give our stamp of approval to any skin care routine that doesn’t include SPF — yes, even for your hands. Acrylic nail application may not require a UV lamp for curing, so you don’t need to layer on SPF before you get them done for that reason, but you do need to apply it for general UV protection at all times. Aftercare is no different. We love the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Invisible UV Fluid for this because the lightweight liquid can be used on the face, neck and hands and won’t leave a white cast on any skin tone.

Next: Gel vs. Acrylic: Which Manicure Is Best for You?

Photo Credit: iStock

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