How to Remove Acrylic Nails: A Step-By-Step Guide

Did you know that acrylic nails were invented in the 1950s by accident when a dentist tried fixing a broken fingernail? Wait, don't go to your dentist yet!
The ideal way to remove acrylics is through a professional nail artist. But, what if you’re too busy to schedule an appointment and want to do it on your own?
Thankfully, it’s easy to remove acrylic nails yourself, but you’ll need to make sure that your natural nails are safe in the process. If you remove acrylic nails improperly, you might harm your nail bed.
Read ahead to find out how to remove acrylic nails at home.

Method 1: Use an Acetone Soak

This is the most common, fool-proof, and effective way to remove acrylic nails.
Most of the tools you’ll need are probably lying in your house right now, including:
  • Nail clipper
  • Acetone (strength of 70 to 100 percent)
  • Small bowl
  • Cuticle pusher or orange stick
  • Nail buffer or nail file
  • Cuticle oil
First of all, use a nail clipper to cut your acrylics as close to your natural nails as possible.
Then, grab the file or buffer to roughen up the surface of the nails until they don't appear to be shiny anymore. You don't have to remove all the acrylic layers at this stage. This is just to increase the surface area and allow the acetone to seep in better.
Now, pour the acetone into a small bowl and dip your nails in it. Soak your nails in the acetone for about ten minutes.
Once ten minutes have passed, remove your fingers from the acetone bowl. Use a metal cuticle pusher or a wooden orange stick to gently push the acrylics off. You should work your way in the direction from the cuticle to the outer edge of the nail.
After that, dip your nails in the acetone bowl again for ten more minutes. Then, repeat the process with the cuticle pusher until the acrylics have soaked off.
With the nail buffer, smoothen your nails and remove any remaining acrylic bits.
Finally, apply some cuticle oil to your nails and cuticles. You can massage the oil with your fingertips. This nourishes your nails and moisturizes them.
It’s important not to skip the last step because acetone tends to strip the nails and dry them out, so you need to compensate for any moisture lost.

Method 2: Use an Electric File

This method is as close to professional fake nail removal as it gets. If you’ve decided to go down the DIY road, it’s a good idea to invest in an electric file. It will make your home manicures faster and easier. That is, of course, after watching a ton of tutorial videos.
Removing your acrylic nails is quite simple. Here’s what you'll need to get started:
  • Nail clipper
  • Electric file
  • Acetone (strength of 70 to 100 percent)
  • Cotton balls
  • Aluminum foil sheets
  • Cuticle pusher or orange stick
  • Nail buffer (optional)
  • Cuticle oil
Just like the acetone soak method, you first have to use the nail clipper to cut your acrylics close to the length of your natural fingernails.
Then, with the electric file, carefully remove most of the acrylic layer off your nails. Leave a thin layer of acrylic on your natural nail to make sure you don't harm your nail bed.
Now, you can soak a cotton ball in acetone for each fingernail. Place one on every finger of one hand. We suggest you begin with your dominant hand.
Afterward, wrap each finger with aluminum foil.
You can then repeat the same process for your second hand, the non-dominant one. Leave the foil-wrapped cotton balls on your fingers for 15 minutes.
Now, unwrap the nails and gently scrape off the acrylics with a cuticle pusher or orange stick. The acrylics should have softened to a texture of glue at this point.
If some acrylic pieces are still stuck, wrap the acetone cotton balls and tin foil around your nails again. You don't need to make new ones, just drop a little extra acetone into the tinfoil mold if you notice that the cotton balls have dried out.
Let the acrylics continue to dissolve for another 15 minutes.
If you had to repeat the wrapping stage, use the cuticle pusher again. Then, smooth the nails with the electric file or a nail buffer.
Finally, apply some cuticle oil to your nails and cuticles to nourish and moisturize them.

How to Care for Your Nails After Removing the Acrylics

After removing your acrylic nails, consider giving your natural nails a breather. During this time, you should apply cuticle oil and moisturize your hands daily.
Make sure to avoid activities that can potentially be harmful to your nails like using them as tools to open cans or peel fruits. Also, remember to wear gloves when doing the dishes.
Acrylics, gel manicures, and dip powder are really pretty and very durable. However, if they are left on the nails for too long or removed improperly, they tend to dry out your nails and you could risk getting a fungal infection.
While your nails are on a hiatus, you could treat them with less invasive methods like regular nail polish or press-on nails. Both are a breeze to apply, and, better still, they won’t harm your nails one bit.
Press-on nails are especially gentle on natural nails. When done correctly, they can last just as long as traditional manicures.


Now you know how to remove acrylic nails at home. Choose one of the methods mentioned above, gather all the tools, and free a portion of your evening for your appointment with yourself. Don’t forget snacks and some relaxing music or your favorite TV show.
After you’ve successfully removed your acrylics, try to focus on restoring the health of your fingernails by moisturizing your hands regularly.