Acrylic nails are amazing—they offer trendy nail shapes, such as coffin or stiletto, and usually, add length so there is more room to create cool designs. Plus, they are strong and polish does not chip. But despite all the benefits, acrylic nails are also time-consuming. You need to see your nail technician every time you want to change something, when they grow out, or if you decide to get them removed. What if you cannot get to the salon but still want to remove your acrylic nails? Read on for an easy step-by-step process on how to remove them at home.

What You’ll Need

The process is actually fairly similar to how your nail tech would remove them (and similar to gel nail removal). It will take a little bit longer, but you likely already have the supplies at home and if not, you can easily purchase these products. Items you will need:

  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Acetone nail polish remover, like this one from Super Nail
  • Orangewood stick
  • Small bowl or cotton balls, like these Super Jumbo-sized ones from Swisspers, and tinfoil, depending on chosen soaking method
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Nail buffer

Acrylic Nail Removal Process

  1. File (or clip, depending on length) acrylic nail as short as possible. If filing, use a coarse, 100-grit file, which is meant for acrylic nails.
  2. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to each cuticle using an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton (or a cotton swab). You want to avoid getting the petroleum jelly on the base of your nail so that the acetone penetrates better.
  3. You can either soak your nails in a bowl of acetone or soak a cotton ball in acetone and wrap that onto the acrylics with foil. Acetone is drying, so the latter option is more work, but is more protective of skin and may take less time. If you choose to soak in a bowl, do not warm up the acetone, as it is quite flammable.
  4. Whichever way you choose, check on progress every twenty minutes. The soaking process may take up to 50 minutes or so. Before removing your acrylics, you want to be sure they are loosened and fairly dissolved, so as not to damage your natural nails.
  5. To remove, gently scrape off nail with an orangewood stick. If small pieces of acrylic are hard to remove, do not force, as you will damage your natural nails. You can soak for a little while longer or buff down the acrylic with a coarse-grit nail buffer.

After Care

After wearing and removing acrylics, your nails may be weakened. Strengthen using the OPI Original Nail Envy treatment. Your hands and cuticles may be dry, even if you did use petroleum jelly while soaking. Softly scrub with an AHA/BHA product, like the Deborah Lippmann Marshmallow Whipped Hand & Cuticle Scrub. Then follow with moisturizers, such as the California Mango Magic Cuticle Oil and The Body Shop Almond Hand & Nail Butter.