Let's Not Make a Practice of This, But Here's How To Take Off Acrylic Nails At Home

At first we planned to let our nails deal with a week or two of growth—never guessing the stay-at-home orders would extend beyond—but nearly three weeks in it's clear it's time to make a move and that's straight to the bathroom for some acetone and cotton balls. (You didn't think we were about to suggest you show up on your manicurist's porch, now were you?) It's time to take matters into our very own capable hands and that means removing our gel nail polish or taking off our acrylic nails at home. Keywords: at home. We wouldn't recommend making a habit of removing your acrylic nails at home, but here's the safest way to accomplish the task without the aid of professionals.

What You’ll Need:

Aluminum foil

Acetone nail polish remover

Cotton balls


Nail file or sturdy buffer

Cuticle pusher

Step 1: Buff Nails

In order to let the acetone soak in, it's important to scuff up those acrylics before applying the polish remover. Using a buffer or nail file, remove the outermost layer so that all you're left with is a dull surface—no shine.

Step 2: Apply Vaseline

Word to the wise: You're going to want to prep your fingers and cuticles for the acetone. Apply Vaseline to the cuticles and fingertips, basically anything that the acetone might unintentionally touch through the process. Because we use a more targeted approach than soaking fingertips in a bowl of acetone you shouldn't have quite as much acetone-related damage, but guarding cuticles and fingertips with a petroleum jelly barrier will mitigate the risk.

Step 3: Apply Soaked Cotton Balls

Soak a cotton ball in acetone, and we really mean soak it. Next you'll apply to your nail and wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the nail to hold it tight. Repeat with each nail. If you have someone in your household who can help you with this process, all the better. Things might start to get dicey once you move onto the second hand.

Step 4: Remove

Using a cuticle pusher, gently remove softened polish layer. In the unlikely event that the full acrylic melts away like putty as you gently glide your pusher over it, move on to step 5. Otherwise you'll want to put the soaked cotton balls back on (aluminum wraps included) and give them another 5 minutes. Remove and repeat the process of gently pushing softened acrylic off of the nails. Keep repeating the process until all acrylic has been removed. You can use a nail buffer to remove any last stubborn bits.

Step 5: Strengthen Nails

After washing hands to remove any residual acetone, apply nail oil over both the cuticles and nails.

If your nails feel brittle or weak after removing your acrylics, you'll want to be sure to treat them with kid gloves until they regain their full strength.

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