How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home, According to Pros

How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home, According to Pros

Getty | Delmaine DonsonGetty | Delmaine DonsonEvery editorial product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn commission.

By day 15 of wearing acrylic nails, your fingertips might start to feel uncomfortable — borderline painful — from having the heavy material sitting on top of them for so long. The uncomfortable feeling might have you wondering how to remove acrylic nails. It’s typically recommended that acrylics are not worn for more than two weeks, but we’d be lying if we said we always strictly adhered to that rule and, even more so, if we said we always went to a professional to take them off.

If you fall in the latter camp and are wondering how to remove acrylic nails at home, there are a few things to know first. If you’re without the proper tools, it’s very easy to weaken the nails, and the damage can be much more dangerous than you think if you do it haphazardly. Professional manicurist and Gelish educator Danielle Candido previously told PS, “[Removing acrylic] literally pulls pieces of the nail off with [the polish] if done improperly.” So if you’re anything like us, before you try picking, peeling, or prying off your acrylics, consider the harm you’ll be causing in the long run, and let us give you a few tips on how to remove acrylic nails safely.

The easiest way to remove acrylic nails is to have a licensed technician do it for you, but if that is not an option for you, there are still safer options than removing acrylics with hot water or vinegar. To help guide us, we asked celebrity nail artist Elle Gerstein, who has worked with A-listers like Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Chastain, to give us the best tips on how to remove acrylic nails. From the products needed to ensure the health of your nails to when to remove them, here’s the best way to remove acrylic nails at home.

— Additional reporting by Renee Rodriguez

How Long Do Acrylic Nails Last?

According to celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec, acrylic nails can last anywhere between two to three weeks if applied correctly. However, your natural nails grow out as the acrylics grow out, so your natural nails start to get weighed down, and you may want to take them off before you get to that point. With proper maintenance, you can keep your nails for as long as you want and have them rebalanced as often as you like.

When to Remove Acrylic Nails

Because of the weight of acrylic nails, experts recommend you take a break from them every few months. Although it’s easier to get another fill-in rather than deal with your natural nails, it’s crucial to let them regain their strength. “Nail cycling” is a great way to take a break from heavy nail treatments like acrylics. Either way, Kandalec recommends that you have your nails rebalanced every three weeks.

Do Acrylics Ruin Your Nails?

Acrylic nails can cause damage if they’re removed improperly by a professional or doing it yourself by picking or peeling them off. If your nail tech mixes products and gets too much monomer on the cuticle area, this can result in contact dermatitis if a person is allergic to the substance. Also, acrylic nails attach to the top layers of the nail plate, so ripping them off or any forceful removal will remove your healthy nail layers with them.

How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home

When it comes to how to get acrylic nails off, we have you covered. “If you’re going to soak off acrylic nails at home, soak your nails in 100 percent acetone,” Gerstein says. “You will need to have patience and let it soak for 45 minutes to an hour (at least). Once it’s gummy, you can try to push it off of your nail, but never pry. If the acrylic doesn’t move, it’s not ready, and you need to soak longer.”

“A helpful tip is to mimic a double-boiler method by placing a bowl of acetone inside a larger bowl filled with hot water,” Gerstein adds. “Just make sure the acetone doesn’t mix with the water, as that will dilute the efficacy. This will help speed up the soak-off process.”

How to Remove Acrylic Nails Without Acetone

If you’ve already learned how to remove acrylic nails with acetone and found it wasn’t for you, for those who want to take a different approach to removing acrylic nails, there are multiple ways you can accomplish this without using acetone. One of the most common methods is to use cuticle oil, like this Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($15), a POPSUGAR Beauty Award winner. This method not only helps you remove acrylics, but also maintains the health of your natural nails. Hold a Q-tip soaked in the oil against each nail for five minutes and you’ll notice the acrylics start to lift. If you’re in a hurry, wrap each nail with aluminum foil and then use an orange stick to remove the leftovers.

How to Heal Nails After Removing Acrylics

“Finish by washing your hands and adding cuticle oil to get the moisture back to your nails,” Gerstein says. “If you’ve been wearing acrylics for a while, I recommend adding a nail strengthener as well.” To get your nails back to optimal health, use a physical exfoliator on your hands and nails, and use cuticle-remover tools to remove dead skin.

Renee Rodriguez is a staff writer and social producer for POPSUGAR. She writes across all verticals, but her main areas of expertise focus on fashion and beauty content with an emphasis on reviews and editor experiments. She also produces social content for POPSUGAR’s TikTok and Instagram accounts.

Main ImageMain ImageEssie Apricot Cuticle OilFrom$15$15 at Target


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply