Easy 6 Step Guide On How To Take Off Acrylic Nails

April 14, 2020

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I’m pretty sure that lots of people have the exact same struggle as I do right now: how to take off acrylic nails myself? I’ve been wearing acrylics but all the nail salons are closed and so there’s no way to get them done or removed by a pro. There’s only one option: take off the acrylic nails myself, at home. Thankfully, I have the most amazing nail salon and the owner shared her tips to easily take your acrylic nails off yourself without damaging them too much. 

I normally would suggest to not take off your acrylics yourself, because it can easily damage your own nails. But since there’s no way to get this done by a pro and since it’s actually bad for your own nails to walk around with 5+ weeks old acrylics, there’s no other way than take them off ourselves. 

Let me first explain why it’s not healthy to just wear the acrylic nails longer than 5 weeks. I never knew this before but my lovely nail salon owner Le from Chanvi Nailbar (it’s a Dutch nail salon so I’m aware most of you who read this can’t go to her – you can still use her nail designs as inspiration though – but if you’re Dutch, I totally recommend Chanvi Nailbar!) explained this very thoroughly. 

Normally you go to the nail salon every 4 weeks. In these 4 weeks, your natural nails grow so this means you will have some outgrowth. If you’re wearing a gel color on top of your acrylics, this starts getting very obvious and I personally think it doesn’t look good. So I’m always happy to go to the nail salon so I can pick out a new color and they’ll fix the outgrowth. 

BUT my nail salon told me that, besides it starts getting less pretty, keeping the same acrylic layer longer than 4 weeks can damage your nails. In those 4 weeks, you probably bump your nails every now and then and this isn’t a huge problem but it’s normal that this causes air. If air gets under your acrylic nail, there’s going to be a little bubble that we normally can’t see because most of us are wearing a gel color on top of the acrylics. 

So normally, our nail salon takes off the gel color as well as the old layer of acrylic and they get rid of possible bubbles that got under the acrylic layer. However, if we keep wearing the acrylics longer than 4-5 weeks and there’s some air beneath the acrylic layer, there’s a possibility that damp gets there as well. Now it starts getting risky because 1. we aren’t able to see this and 2. damp can cause infections. 

If you’re wearing your acrylics longer than 5 weeks, the possibility of getting an infection is growing. That’s why you don’t want to wear the acrylics longer than 5 weeks without getting them professionally done. 

I personally didn’t know this so if my nail salon didn’t tell me, I would have probably kept wearing my acrylics and who knows how this would have ended. It might start with a small infection, but this could develop into something more dangerous for your overall health. So even though I hate taking my acrylics off, it’s way better for my health. This is the reason why I want to recommend you do the same. Take them off if you’re wearing them for 4+ weeks, please!  

But now we come across the question: how to take off acrylic nails at home? I’m going to walk you through the process, exactly how my nail salon told me how to do this, so in this way, you’re able to take them off without damaging your own nails too much. 

What do you need?

I was able to buy the products we need for this process through my nail salon but the products are also available at your local drugstore. The products you need are the following: 

  • Nail file: not a normal one, you need one with 100-180 grit. 
  • Acetone: get one with the highest % acetone to reduce the waiting time (the less acetone the longer soaking off takes) 
  • Cuticle pusher 
  • Little container: watch out with plastic, because acetone can melt plastic containers 
  • Cotton pads
  • Buffer file
  • Nail oil 
  • Old placemat or towel
  • Gloves

My nail salon put some gloves in their self-made home kits I purchased, this isn’t necessary. 

How to take off acrylic nails

How To Take Off Acrylic Nails At Home

Step 1

Lay down an old placemat or towel which is allowed to get dirty or stained because it’s going to be dusty and if you spill some acetone, it might leave stains so work carefully and with something beneath your hands to be sure.  

The first step is to shorten the acrylic nails if you have long ones like me. Use the 100-180 grit file to do this. Filing your nails shorter will shorten the process off soaking them in acetone plus your nails are probably going to be thin so that’s why you have to shorten before soaking them in acetone to prevent them from breaking or tearing afterward. 

Step 2

The second step is to file off the gel color. To get this removed, you have to push a bit harder with the file onto your gel polish. Take your time to do this because all the gel polish needs to be removed in order to remove the acrylic beneath. File until you only see the transparent/acrylic layer. 

The gel isn’t going to be removed by acetone so that’s why you have to remove the gel layer first in order to remove the acrylic. 

This step actually took me longer than I expected so I recommend turning on some music or series to keep you entertained. 

Step 3

Now it’s time to let your nails soak in the acetone. It depends on how strong your acetone is, but this takes at least 20 minutes if you have 100% acetone and around the 1-2 hours with any other acetone (drugstore mostly only sells acetone with a lower percentage which takes longer). Start with one hand because once the acrylic melts, you have to remove it quickly otherwise it’s getting hard again. 

Step 4

You have soaked one hand in acetone for at least 20 minutes, but probably, longer, so now the acrylic became something like slime. Get your cuticle pusher and slowly push off the acrylic from your nails. You might have to go in multiple times to remove most of it. If there’s still a little bit of acrylic left, no worries because we’re going to file that off later. Just make sure you get rid of most of the acrylic. 

Now it’s time to do the exact same thing with your other hand. Again, put on some nice music or series to keep you entertained otherwise it’s going to feel like forever lol.  

Step 5

Most of the acrylic is now gone and to make sure we remove all the acrylic, it’s time to get the Buffer file. The Buffer vile has 4 different sides and you want to make sure you’re using the one with the least grit/grain. Your own nails are now weak so you don’t want to go in with a rough file like we just used to file off the gel color. 

Also make sure to not press too hard, just lightly brush over the nails to buff them. This way you’re removing all the little acrylic pieces and other little bumps. 

Step 6

Acetone is very drying so your nails will feel dry after this process so that’s why it’s important to use nail oil. You can use this a couple of times a day if you want to and just make sure you once it at least every day for the first 2 weeks. 

I also used the Bum Bum Cream by Sol de Janeiro as a hand cream because I find that body cream very hydrating and it just smells amazing. You can use a body cream or hand cream if you would like. 

You can give your nails a break from any nail polish but if you want to use a nail enhancer, that’s totally fine. It’s not a necessity but it’s not bad for your nails either. It might be nice to do this so your own nails will feel a bit stronger than without any nail polish. Go ahead and use that if you like. 🙂 

That’s how to take off acrylic nails at home! I’m already missing my acrylic nails and I feel bare without them but as I said before, I know it’s better for my health and I don’t want infections. As soon as I’m possible, I will rush to my nail salon to get them done again! 

I really hope this post has been helpful for you. Let me know in the comments if you had to remove your acrylics as well. 

Comments (8)

  • Amanda

    April 14, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    This statement might sound unbelievable, but I’ve never had my nails professionally done before! But, I can still appreciate these tips because they work similarly for dip powder nails, gel nail polish, etc. I don’t even use glue on nails anymore because my natural nails are longer than any nails that I have on hand.

    xoxo Amanda | theaestheticedge.com

    1. Simone | Beautymone

      April 15, 2020 at 3:51 pm

      I don’t think that’s unbelievable because if I had strong nails myself or never if I would never bite them again, I think I wouldn’t have tried acrylics either. But getting your nails done, even if it’s just nail polish or gel polish, I love how it feels to just sit there and pretty much relax. It’s truly a relaxing moment for me lol. I’m jealous of your beautiful, own nails though! 🙂

  • Mimi

    April 16, 2020 at 12:09 am

    Isn’t better to have them off for a while anyway? The let your nails rest a bit? This post was so helpful though, I’m sure it will help a lot of people

    1. Simone | Beautymone

      April 16, 2020 at 8:50 pm

      I believe it is! Giving them a break isn’t going to harm them. 🙂

  • katelyn | embark to explore

    April 17, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Yay! The post I’ve been waiting for! My nail lady told me about how keeping your nails on for a long period of time isn’t good because of the bacteria that can grow underneath! i was so shocked!
    Also I bet this will take me 2 hours because I think I have a weak acetone! Woo!
    Thanks for all the tips! It’s super helpful as usual!

    1. Simone | Beautymone

      April 18, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      I was so shocked too, never knew how this could cause an infection!
      Lol it’s not the nicest thing to do and it takes pretty long but watching series is definitely making it better!

  • The Newbury Girl

    April 19, 2020 at 5:05 am

    I’ve never had acrylics so this was super fascinating since I was unaware of the upkeep involved! I used to think people grew their own nails out naturally like this!

    Although I don’t wear acrylics I have taken off gel nail polish at home, so if you never need to do this again you could try putting a layer of gel nail polish remover (so not a liquid one, but more of a gel texture) instead of filing the gel polish down. Then you’d layer a cotton round on top, wrap your nails with the nail polish remover and cotton round in tinfoil for 10 minutes! It helps the polish to just peel and slide right off!

    1. Simone | Beautymone

      April 22, 2020 at 12:06 pm

      That’s a great tip! My muscles did really hurt so bad the day after I took my acrylics off and I’m pretty sure it was because of filing the gel polish down lol. So if I ever need to do this again (I hope not lol!), I’m definitely trying that!

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