I am not a nail expert, do not hold me accountable if this doesn't work for you, but I know a lot of you, like me, get acrylic nails. Whether they are acrylic tips or powder dip acrylic layers, there's a good chance they're growing out right about now and you're struggling to keep your hands clean and function in everyday life. Before you take clippers to them or try to peel them off, try what I did to get my acrylic powder dip nails off this past weekend. This should also work to remove your acrylic nails at home too.
How to Remove your Acrylic Nails At Home
What you Need:
- Some sort of disposable absorbing item. Paper towel, cotton balls, fast food napkins, you get the idea. You don't need anything fancy, but you want to be able to layer it up so it can be an absorbent pad/sponge
- Acetone nail polish remover. You need the acetone to remove the acrylic. You can find acetone nail polish at any drugstore, at Ulta, and at Amazon.
- Aluminum foil
- An old nail file you don't care about. It can be one of those cheapy foam ones that often come free in swag bags at conferences or in a manicure set. You will either want to throw it away after this or hold onto it for future projects like this one.
- Vaseline/petroleum jelly
Instructions for Acrylic Nail Removal:
If you have a second person who can help, all the better. It can get awkward when prepping your second hand.
- Lightly file the tops of your nails. Do not file your actual nails, file the glossy polished part of the powder dip or the polish on top of the acrylic. The goal is to sand off the topcoat so the acetone can penetrate better.
- Tear or cut aluminum foil into pieces about the size of a playing card.
- Rub vaseline on the skin around your nails, including the tops of your fingers behind the nails. This will protect your skin from the drying acetone.
- Soak your cotton balls or little folded sections of paper towel or napkin in the acetone polish and place on top of your nail. Then wrap the top of your finger with the aluminum foil, which will hold the acetone pad in place. Do not press or squeeze the acetone pad, just make sure it's held in place.
- Hang out for a while. At the nail salon this can take maybe 10 minutes, at home it will take longer. You can open the foil on one finger after every 15 minutes to check to see how they're doing.
- If the acrylic is getting really gummy, you can use the acetone pad to try to rub it off. Then use the nail file to file only the acrylic to try to get it off (do not file your actual nail). If there is still acrylic left, soak a new pad and use the same foil to hold it in place and let it sit a while longer.
- Continue until all polish and acrylic are removed. This can take up to two hours; it's a good activity to do while watching a movie.
- I recommend placing your hands in a large bowl (not plastic, choose something like ceramic that won't be hurt by the acetone) and then place a towel between the bowl and your lap to catch any drips if you move your hands. If the smell is bothering you, place another towel over your hands to hold the vapors in the bowl.
- Dispose of acetone, pads, and foil. Wash hands extremely well with a nail brush. Wash any towels that were used only with rags or items that won't be hurt by acetone. If a towel got very saturated, rinse it before adding it to the washing machine.
- To keep hands happy afterward, consider applying cuticle oil (or honestly any oil, olive and almond are good) on the nails and a thick hand cream (I'm a fan of O'Keeffe's). If possible, let the hands rest overnight before applying any other color or products.
There may be better methods out there, but this is what I figured out after watching my nail tech for years remove my nails. This may also work for gel or lacquer polish. Please note acetone is like paint remover; keep it away from most everything because it will eat away paint, plastic, and finishes on wood.
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If you have any tips on removing gel or lacquer polish or better methods for removing acrylic tips or powder dip acrylic layers, please share them in the comments!