How to Remove Your Acrylics at Home (Without Wrecking Your Own Nails)
Main image – Sonjalekovic/Stocksy
We love a set of acrylic nails here at LTG. But while acrylics look *fab*, you do need to take good care of them to protect your nail health.
And, alas, you’ll eventually need to part ways with them once they start to grow out (not a good look as I’ve found out the hard way for myself).
While it’s definitely recommended to visit the salon or your nail tech to get your acrylics removed, if you don’t have the cash or the time it *is* possible to safely remove them at home if you really have to. But you’ll definitely need to follow some advice and guidance to avoid damaging your natural nails.
That’s why I spoke to pro nail artist Syreeta Aaron to get her expert take on how you can safely remove your acrylic nails yourself at home.
So grab your toolkit (don’t worry, we’ll let you know exactly what you’ll need!) and let’s delve into the delicate process of gracefully parting ways with your acrylics.
The tools you´ll need to remove your acrylics
Get started by gathering together all the tools you need to remove your acrylic nails using acetone or nail varnish remover:
- Acetone, acrylic nail remover, dish soap or coconut oil
- A bowl
- Nail clippers
- Nail file
- Cuticle pusher
- Nail buffer
- Cuticle oil
- Cotton wool pads (optional)
- Aluminium foil (optional)
Removing your acrylic nails with acetone
The acetone method is one of the *best* and most effective options for acrylic nail removal but it does require a fair amount of caution, according to Aaron, since acetone is a strong solvent and can damage both your skin and many surfaces it comes into contact with (think that cute wooden table you love using to do your beauty).
Step 1: Remove the length of your acrylic nails
You should always start by clipping down and filing your acrylics. It’s best to clip your acrylic nails down so that they’re as close as possible to being even with your natural nails.
Step 2: File off your topcoat
You’ll also want to file the topcoat layer off. Aaron says “With a file (80/100 grit would be suitable), file off the topcoat layer of the polish first.” After you’ve filed down the polish, you should use your nail buffer on the polish until there is no more shine.
Step 3: Soak your acrylics in acetone
This is where most of the removal power happens. Place your nails in a glass bowl filled with acetone. Make sure to only dips your nails up to your cuticles to avoid getting acetone on your skin. If you’re worried about irritating your skin, you can also place acetone-soaked cotton balls on your nails themselves and wrapping your nails in foil.
But how long should you soak your acrylics for?
According to Aaron, “Depending on how thick the acrylic is you will need to soak for 20 to 45 minutes.”
The expert also advises, “checking every 5 to 10 minutes,” and to “file off what has already softened on the nail so that the soak-off remover/acetone can continue to penetrate through the acrylic,” as you go.
Step 4: Remove any excess
Once you’ve removed most of your acrylics, scrape off any remaining bits using a cuticle pusher.
Step 5: Rehydrate your nails
Look after your newly-naked nails with an at home mani complete with cuticle oil if you’re not replacing your acrylics or your desired look if you are.
Aaron explains, “You will then shape and buff your natural nail and proceed to your desired choice of what follows.
“For example, if you want to have your natural nails only, I would buff your natural nails and treat them with repair and cuticle oil.”
While it’s a straightforward process though, if you find your acrylics aren’t coming off easily, check out this great tutorial from pro nail brand @kiaraskynails on TikTok:
Can I remove acrylics without acetone?
You don’t necessarily have to expose your nails to acetone to remove your acrylics.
There are a few alternative methods that allow you to get acrylics off and avoid harsh chemicals, or, you can buy a nail varnish remover that is acetone-free and use it just like you would use acetone.
You also may be able to remove your acrylics by soaking your nails in warm soapy water. Most likely, you’ll need to soak them for around 40 minutes before you’ll be able to get your acrylics off though.
You also can use the foil method and soak the cotton wool in cuticle oil or coconut oil instead of acetone. This may loosen your acrylics enough for removal.
When should you remove your acrylic nails?
You may think that you’ll only want to replace your acrylics once they start to look visibly damaged or grown out. But according to the experts you should actually remove your acrylics or have infills every three weeks to avoid nail damage and infection.
As your acrylic grows out it puts stress on the nail bed, pulling it away from the nail matrix. Not only is this painful but it’s also damaging to your nails.
According to the experts, leaving acrylics on for too long also risks them lifting away from your nail and fungus or bacteria growing underneath.
Carefully follow these instructions and you should be able to safely and easily remove your acrylic nails from home.
Remember to be as gentle as possible and make sure to pamper your natural nails once you’ve removed the acrylic.
Acrylics are *fab* for creating longer nails and they can last for up to 3 weeks. But if you’d rather remove your acrylics from home, we got you.
Meet the experts
BIPOC pro nail artist Syreeta Aaron is a brand educator for the globally-famous nail polish brand LeChat and has had a nail tech career spanning 17 years.