beauty looks How to Safely Remove Acrylic Nails at Home

DIY nail removal is an easy way to save some time and some coins.

September 26, 2022
How To Safely 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 the Polygel nail trend into the manicure arena, we still love acrylics for their solid 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 (jelly nails for autumn anyone?). You definitely can’t just rip them off — you’ll regret it if you try. And trying to slip a Metrocard (New Yorkers know what I’m talking about) or thin plastic sheet under the acrylic to pop it off is an absolute no-no. 

You can head to the salon and have a nail technician remove your acrylics — then redo your nails for you. But if the last two 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.


How Do I Remove Acrylic Nails at Home?

While learning how to remove 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: Nail clippers, nail file, acetone nail polish remover, petroleum jelly, cotton balls and aluminum foil.

How to execute: Use a nail clipper to cut your acrylics as short as possible. The less nail you're left to work with, the better. Then 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 petroleum jelly to the base of your nail beds and your fingers. 

Next, 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. 

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

How 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: Nail clippers, tweezers or a cuticle stick, acetone-free nail polish remover and a bowl.

How to execute: Again, begin by clipping your nails as short as possible. Then using a pair of tweezers or a cuticle stick, gently pry and lift the edges of your acrylics. Operative word: Gently. 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. 

Let them soak for 30 to 40 minutes or more if needed. 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 healthy teeth and gums. 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 come loose or lift.

What you’ll need: Cuticle stick, dental floss, and someone to assist.

How to execute: First, 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. Then enlist the help of your roommate, partner, or a friend. You’ll need another person for most of this removal process.

After the edges of your acrylic nail has been lifted, have them 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 post-manicure removal. 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. 

Your cuticles will also be needing some love so apply cuticle oil generously to soften and care for them. And finally, show your hands some TLC and reach for a hydrating hand cream to wrap your skin in soothing moisture.

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Edited by: Shalwah Evans, Photo Credit: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy