Beauty/Grooming, Health/Life

How to take off acrylic nails: steps and tips for safe removal

how to take off acrylic nails

This guide outlines how to take off acrylic nails safely, with a step-by-step guide and tips to make the job easier.

Acrylic nails are a popular choice for those seeking to enhance the appearance of their natural nails, offering durability and a wide range of design options. However, improper removal can lead to damage and weakening of the natural nails.

How to take off acrylic nails

Learning how to take off acrylic nails safely is essential to maintain nail health and prevent potential issues. In this article, we will guide you through a step-by-step process for removing acrylic nails safely at home.

  1. Gather the right tools

Before you begin the removal process, ensure you have all the necessary tools. You will need:

  • Acetone: Acetone is the key ingredient for dissolving acrylic nails effectively. Purchase 100% pure acetone or a nail polish remover with a high acetone concentration for best results.
  • Nail File: A coarse nail file will be useful for removing the top layer of the acrylic nails and creating tiny openings for the acetone to penetrate.
  • Aluminum Foil: Cut aluminum foil into small squares, large enough to wrap around each nail.
  • Cotton Balls or Pads: Soak these in acetone to cover the nails.
  • Cuticle Oil or Moisturizer: Acetone can dry out the nails and surrounding skin, so it’s essential to have cuticle oil or moisturizer on hand to rehydrate them after removal.
  1. Trim and File the Nails

Start by trimming the acrylic nails down as much as possible using nail clippers. This step will make the removal process easier and less time-consuming. Next, use a coarse nail file to gently file the top layer of the acrylic nails. Be cautious not to file down to your natural nails, as this could cause damage.

  1. Apply Petroleum Jelly or Barrier Cream

To protect the skin around your nails from the drying effects of acetone, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or barrier cream. This will act as a barrier and prevent irritation.

  1. Soak the Acrylic Nails

Take a cotton ball or pad and soak it in acetone. Place the saturated cotton on top of one nail and wrap it with a small piece of aluminum foil. Repeat this process for all your nails. The foil helps to keep the cotton in place and creates a more effective soaking environment.

  1. Wait and Relax

Give the acetone time to work its magic. Relax and wait for about 20-30 minutes, allowing the acetone to break down the acrylic nails. You can wrap your fingertips in a towel or wear gloves to retain the heat, which can speed up the process.

  1. Gently Remove the Acrylic Nails

After the soaking period, gently remove the aluminum foil wraps and cotton balls from your nails. The acrylic nails should be noticeably softened and easier to remove. Use an orange wood stick or a cuticle pusher to gently lift and slide the acrylic nails off your natural nails. Avoid using excessive force, as this can cause damage.

  1. Buff and Shape the Nails

Once the acrylic nails are removed, you may notice some residue or remaining acrylic on your natural nails. Use a gentle buffer to smooth out any rough edges and shape your natural nails. Be careful not to buff too vigorously, as over-buffing can weaken your nails.

  1. Hydrate and Moisturize

After the removal process, your nails and the surrounding skin may feel dry and depleted of moisture. Massage cuticle oil or a nourishing hand cream into your nails and cuticles to rehydrate and promote nail health.

Tips for healthy fingernails

Maintaining healthy fingernails is essential for their appearance and overall well-being. Here are some tips to promote strong and healthy fingernails:

  1. Keep Nails Clean and Dry: Regularly clean your nails with mild soap and water. Avoid prolonged exposure to water or chemicals, as it can weaken the nails.
  2. Moisturize Nails and Cuticles: Apply a nourishing cuticle oil or moisturizer regularly to keep your nails and cuticles hydrated, preventing dryness and brittleness.
  3. Avoid Biting or Picking: Resist the temptation to bite or pick at your nails, as this can damage the nail bed and lead to infections.
  4. Use Gentle Nail Care Products: Choose nail care products (nail polish, removers, etc.) that are free of harsh chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP, as they can be damaging to nails.
  5. Trim and File Properly: Regularly trim your nails with sharp, clean nail clippers or scissors. Use a gentle file to shape and smooth the edges. Avoid using a back-and-forth sawing motion while filing, as this can cause peeling and breakage.
  6. Apply a Base Coat: Before applying nail polish, use a base coat to protect the natural nails and prevent staining.
  7. Limit Gel and Acrylic Use: Excessive use of gel and acrylic nails can weaken the natural nails. Allow your nails to breathe between applications.
  8. Use Gloves: Wear gloves while doing household chores, gardening, or working with harsh chemicals to protect your nails from damage and drying.
  9. Eat a Balanced Diet: Proper nutrition is essential for healthy nails. Include foods rich in biotin, vitamin E, iron, and zinc, as they promote nail strength and growth.
  10. Avoid Excessive Moisture: While hydration is essential, prolonged exposure to water can weaken nails. Wear gloves while doing activities like dishwashing or swimming.
  11. Keep Nails at a Moderate Length: Avoid keeping nails excessively long, as they are more prone to breakage. A moderate length is easier to maintain and less likely to snag on things.
  12. Regular Nail Trims: Trim your nails regularly to prevent them from becoming too long and prone to breakage.
  13. Massage Your Nails: Gently massage the nail bed and cuticles to improve blood circulation, which can promote nail growth.
  14. Don’t Use Nails as Tools: Avoid using your nails to open cans, packages, or perform other tasks that could cause damage.
  15. Visit a Professional: Regularly visit a licensed nail technician for manicures and nail care, especially if you’re unsure about proper nail care techniques.

By following these tips and incorporating good nail care habits into your routine, you can maintain healthy, beautiful fingernails that complement your overall appearance and confidence


Safely removing acrylic nails is essential to maintain the health and strength of your natural nails. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can confidently and effectively remove acrylic nails at home.

Remember to gather the necessary tools, soak the acrylic nails properly, and be gentle during the removal process. With care and patience, you can enjoy beautiful, healthy nails free from acrylic enhancements. If you ever feel unsure or encounter difficulties, consider seeking professional assistance from a licensed nail technician.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch