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How To Safely Get Nail Glue Off Of Your Skin

Skip the trip to the nail tech and follow these tips instead.
  • Lyz Mancini
May 30, 2024


There are so many perks to using press on nails and creating a DIY manicure. Artificial nails are super easy to apply, the process takes half the time you would spend in a nail salon, and you get to save money. But the downside to that is having to deal with any mishaps — like nail glue ending up in the wrong places.

If you’ve experienced nail glue being stuck to your skin, then you know how much of a struggle it can be to get it off if you don’t know the best method to do so. You are trying to unstick a substance whose only job is to stick to something. Luckily, it can easily be removed, and it’s just about finding the right techniques that don’t involve irritating your skin. 

What Happens if Nail Glue Gets on Your Skin?

The good news is getting nail glue on your skin usually just causes some minor irritation. However, if you glue parts of your fingers or other body parts together, it can cause even more irritation and tears to the skin. 

And while it’s uncommon, you can suffer from a chemical burn if the glue is left on your skin and you don’t take immediate action, as this study from the National Center For Biotechnology Information explains.

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How Do You Get Dried Nail Glue Off Your Skin?

Read on for four simple ways to remove nail glue from your skin using things you may already have in your home.

1. Nail Polish Remover

The first thing that likely comes to mind when trying to figure out what to do if you get nail glue on your skin is to use nail polish remover — and rightly so. Here’s how.

How to Remove Nail Glue Using Nail Polish Remover

What you’ll need: Cotton swabs, nail polish remover, a toothbrush.

To remove nail glue from your skin, you’ll want to use an acetone-based nail polish remover. This will be most effective in dissolving the glue. Dip a cotton swab into your acetone remover, then press the swab onto the affected area. Allow the acetone to soak in, applying more as needed. Do this until the glue begins to dissolve. When the glue starts to dissolve, use a clean toothbrush to gently rub away the glue residue.

Acetone can be very drying to your skin. While using a cotton swab will help you pinpoint exactly where you apply acetone, chances are you’ll still get some nail polish remover on areas of skin that don’t have nail glue on them. Replenish moisture in your hands with a hydrating lotion when you’re done.

2. Petroleum Jelly

Alternatively, petroleum jelly can help you get nail glue off your skin without acetone.

How to Remove Nail Glue Using Petroleum Jelly

What you’ll need: Petroleum jelly, soap, water. 

Apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to the affected area of skin. Rub the petroleum jelly in circular motions, massaging it onto the dried nail glue. Continue to do this for a few minutes until you notice the nail glue begin to loosen. After the petroleum jelly has broken up the nail glue, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to get rid of any residue.

3. Soap and Water

If you act fast, soap and water can be used as a nail glue removal method. This method will take the longest, but if you don’t have any other useful ingredients it will save you a trip to the store with nail glue stuck to your hands. It’s also a great way to remove nail glue off your skin without using acetone.

How to Remove Nail Glue Using Soap And Water

What you’ll need: A bowl, soap, water.

Fill a bowl with lukewarm water mixed with soap. Dip the affected area into the mixture and allow it to soak for several minutes. Depending on how quickly you noticed and reacted to the nail glue on your skin, this can take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes. Simply keep an eye on the glue until you notice it dissolving. When you notice the glue starts to dissolve, gently peel it away from your skin. As always, follow up with a hand cream to restore moisture to your skin. 

You can also avoid getting nail glue on your skin in the first place by keeping a cloth and bowl of warm water nearby during the nail application process. If you notice glue getting on areas other than your nails, dip the cloth into the water and wipe the glue away before it dries and becomes a bigger issue.

4. Hand Lotion

Last but not least, hand lotion itself can be used to remove nail glue from the skin.

How to Remove Nail Glue Using Hand Lotion

What you’ll need: Hand lotion or cream, soap, water.

Apply the hand lotion to the affected area and massage it into the glue in a circular motion. Continue to do this until the glue begins to flake away. Once the glue has flaked away, wash your hands with soap and water to eliminate any remaining glue. When all the glue is gone, apply more hand cream to lock in moisture and nourish your skin.

Next: 12 Jelly Nail Designs to Save as Inspo for Your Next Manicure

Photo Credit: iStock

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