How to Remove Acrylic Nails

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Soaking the nails will dissolve the acrylic.
Soaking the nails will dissolve the acrylic. (Image: Voyagerix/iStock/Getty Images)

When you’re ready to say goodbye to your acrylic nails, pulling, tugging and biting isn’t the way to go. Removing acrylic nails can cause damage to your natural nails, so do so gently and with the right method to minimize damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton balls
  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Medium-sized glass bowl
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Orange wood cuticle pusher
  • Coarse-grit nail file
  • Hand soap
  • Towel
  • Nail buffer
  • Moisturizer

Remove any nail polish from the nails with cotton balls and acetone nail polish remover. Cut the nails as short as possible with fingernail clippers without cutting your natural nails.

Pour acetone nail polish remover into a medium-sized glass bowl. Use enough nail polish remover so that your fingernails can be completely submerged.

Rub a dab of petroleum jelly on the skin around your fingernails and any skin on your fingers that will be in contact with the nail polish remover. This will help to keep the skin moisturized and provide a barrier to protect against the harshness of the nail polish remover.

Place your fingers in the nail polish remover so that the acrylic nails are completely submerged. Let them soak for 10 to 20 minutes. Rub your nails against one another while they’re soaking to help loosen the acrylic.

Take your fingers out of the nail polish remover and scrape away the acrylic, one layer at a time, with an orange wood cuticle pusher. Scrape gently to avoid causing damage to your natural nails.

Soak the nails in additional five- to 10-minute increments, scraping gently with the orange wood cuticle pusher after each increment. Gently file any stubborn acrylic with a coarse-grit nail file to help loosen it. You may need to repeat the soaking process several times. Ideally, leave one thin layer of acrylic on your nails to help protect your natural nails.

Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water, then pat dry with a towel. Buff your nails with a nail buffer to smooth out the last layer of acrylic so it blends with your natural nail. Apply moisturizer to your hands and fingernails.

Tips & Warnings

  • Protect your table's surface by placing a thick layer of newspapers or old towels under the bowel of polish remover.

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