How to Remove Acrylic Nails Without Damaging Your Nail Bed

Are your acrylic nails something out of a horror movie? A quick child-free trip to the salon and you’re good to go. Except … #QuarantineLife.

With social distancing in effect and most nail technicians closed for business, we are faced with a new nail dilemma. Leave them be – and possibly end up with Edward Scissornails. Or, try to remove them yourself.

If you’re opting for the latter, you’re in luck because we’ve got an easy-to-follow guide on removing acrylic nails, thanks to our resident nail technician.

How to remove acrylic nails 

Things you will need:

  • Nail file
  • Buffer
  • Pure acetone (Better value in the 1-litre bottle for approx $9 from Bunnings)
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Foil
  • Small bowl
  • Nail strengthener (we used Revitalift Nail Strengthener from Big W)
  • Cuticle oil (we used Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil from Woolworths)

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1. Gently file over the top of the acrylic nail to give it a rough surface. This will allow the acetone to soak through. Be careful not to file the skin around the nail as this will sting when the acrylic goes onto it

2. Pour a small amount of acetone into a bowl.

3. Cut 10 pieces of foil into squares about 5cm x 5cm roughly (enough to wrap around the top of your finger and covering the nail).

4. Take a cotton ball (one ball should do 4 nails) break it into 4 pieces. Soak it in the acetone and then place over the nail.

5. Wrap the foil over the cotton ball and secure around the nail. This will keep the cotton ball in place over the nail and allow the acetone to work in the right place without slipping off the nail.

6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for every nail and allow the acetone to work for around 20 minutes.

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20 minutes later 

7. Check the last nail you wrapped. Taking the foil off and slide the cotton ball to the end of the nail – this should take the acrylic nail (or most of it) with it. Press firmly to do this, like you are wiping nail polish remover off the nail. If it isn’t ready, then re-wrap it and leave for another 5-10 minutes.

8. Repeat step 7 on the same nail as before and if the acrylic wipes off, then repeat with all the other nails. Sometimes, depending on how thick the acrylic was when it was applied, you may need to redo steps 4 & 5 with new cotton wool and more acetone. If this is the case do this and sit and wait for another 10-15 minutes. Although most of the acrylic should come off after about 20 minutes.

9. Once most of the acrylic is removed if there are very small amounts remaining you can normally remove these with a nail file. Make sure you DO NOT file away your nail as this will damage the nail bed.

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After-removal tips

  • Once all acrylic is removed your nails may be weak. Cut them short using nail clippers and file around the edges.
  • Take the buffer and buff your nails to smooth them out and get rid of any ridges that have been caused by the acrylic.
  • Wash hand thoroughly to get rid of remaining acetone on your skin. If you have a nail strengthening product use this and also a cuticle oil will help to moisturise the nails and cuticles and help them repair more quickly. I recommend Dr Lewinn’s Revitanail Nail Strengthener. It is the BEST at repairing the nails and making them strong again.
  • Be really careful if doing the dishes or showering straight after the nails have been removed as they will be much more sensitive to hot water for a few days.

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So there you have it – fresh acrylic-free nails, perfect for quarantine life and ready to be prettied-up as soon as possible.

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Avatar of Belinda Jennings

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

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