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How Do I Remove Acrylic Nails?

A woman with acrylic fingernails.
A nail buffer may be used to buff down remaining acrylic nail pieces.
After acrylic nails are removed as much as possible, apply petroleum jelly to your cuticles to prevent any cracking or peeling from acetone exposure.
An acetone-containing nail polish remover, which can melt off acrylic nails.
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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2014
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Acrylic nails are glued on top of natural nails, so the very idea of attempting to remove them can bring scary thoughts of having to painfully pry them off. Luckily, there is a much cheaper, safer, and pain-free way to remove acrylic nails at home using an ingredient most women with acrylic nails are advised to avoid: acetone. Many nail polish removers contain acetone, a solvent that can dissolve acrylic nail glue. Normally, acrylic nail wearers are told not use it to remove nail color because it will melt off the nail itself. But when you actually want to remove acrylic nails, women can make acetone-containing nail polish remover work for them.

Using acetone nail polish remover to remove acrylic nails is a time-consuming, albeit painless, procedure. Pour enough acetone nail polish remover into a bowl to cover your nails and soak your fingers for 10 minutes. Using a towel, gently wipe the nails to remove any loosened acrylic layers. If there are still layers of acrylic remaining, immediately dip your nails back into the acetone and repeat the process of soaking for 10 minutes and wiping the nails. It can take several rounds of soaking and wiping to remove acrylic nails layer by layer.

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Not all of the acrylic may melt off in perfect layers, so if some bits and pieces remain behind, don’t get the nail clippers. Instead, allow nails to air dry after the last round of acetone soaking, and use a nail buffer to gently buff down any remaining acrylic pieces to blend them into your natural nails. The most important point to remember is to not put any pressure on the freshly uncovered natural nails, which could be weakened from the acrylic nail glue. If a stubborn piece of acrylic remains after buffing, leave it be and wait for your natural nails to grow. Scraping at a stuck acrylic piece can cause your natural nails to break, so it’s better to let your nails grow long enough to allow the acrylic to wear off naturally.

Acetone-containing nail polish remover can melt away acrylic nail glue, but it can also irritate and dry out cuticles. After acrylic nails are removed as much as possible, apply moisturizer or petroleum jelly to your cuticles to prevent any cracking or peeling due to acetone exposure. Treat freshly uncovered natural nails carefully until they begin to grow again, since they have been through harsh chemical exposure from the acrylic glue, as well as the acetone removal process.

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julies
Post 6

If you go to a salon and pay for acrylic nail removal, do they use the same thing as acetone? I have always heard how bad this is for you and how hard it can be on your nails.

I have only had acrylic nails a few times and it seemed to take awhile for my nails to return back to normal after removing the fake nails. That is one reason I don't get them very often.

I also do a lot of outside work and don't think paying for acrylic nails would be worth it if I did this on a regular basis. Removing them doesn't sound like it is very easy no matter how you go about doing it.

andee
Post 5

I have been buying a professional nail removal kit at the store to remove my acrylic nails. Using the nail polish remover sounds like an easy way to remove acrylic nails though. I think it would also be cheaper than the kits I have been buying.

I don't have much patience when it comes to removing my nails and it doesn't sound like the acetone is any faster at doing this than what I was using in the kit.

Once I have the acrylic nails removed it is hard for me not to have them put back on right away because my nails look so bad. I realize the constant wearing of acrylic nails is why they look so bad, but I keep putting them on anyway.

I just wish there was a faster way to take them off when I need to.

honeybees
Post 4

@golf07 - I know what you mean about the time and expense it takes to keep acrylic nails on. You get used to that look and it can be hard to go without.

I finally got to the point where I decided to go back to my regular nails. After removing my acrylic nails the last time I realized what bad shape my nails were really in.

I applied olive oil to my nails when I was done and tried to do this at least once a day for a couple weeks. This gave some nourishment and moisture to my dry nails.

I did use the acetone to remove them, but this is hard on your nails too. It took a long time for my nails to grow back strong and healthy. I am not in any hurry to put acrylic nails on again.

golf07
Post 3

Sometimes I wonder if all the work I go through to keep my nails looking polished and nice is worth it. It can cost quite a bit to keep acrylic nails on, but it is also nice to give my real nails a break from time to time.

It really isn't hard to remove acrylic nails yourself, you just have to allow time for it. I plan on doing this when I am watching one of my favorite TV shows. This way I take my time and let my nails soak long enough to soften them.

If I have to do this more than once it is not a big deal because I am just sitting there watching TV anyway. I usually do always end up soaking my nails more than one time, and it does feel good to get the acrylic nails off.

anon37062
Post 1

worked wonders did this tip thanks!!!

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