Pink manicure with floral background. Pink manicure with floral background.

How To Take Off Acrylic Nails: 5 Easy Ways

Acrylic nails may be the best-recommended synthetic nails on earth. Acrylic nails are known as polymer monomer acrylic nails using an acrylic brush. Acrylic faux nails are sturdy and strong and are an excellent choice when seeking long-lasting false nails.

Imagine this, you decided to stay in for the weekend and are having a self-care day. You are done with your acrylic nails and want to pamper yourself with a fresh new colour only to realize that you have run out of acetone! Worry not, we have got your back, you won’t even need to leave the house or go to the nail salon to take off your acrylic nails1.

In this article, we will show you a few techniques to get rid of your acrylic nails at home. Keep reading even if you just want a healthier alternative to swap out acetone and the damage it causes to your skin.

1. What is Acetone?

Acetone is a solvent widely used for cleaning and removal of products. Often used in medicine it is propane-2 oz2. Dimethyl ketone. Using acetone for nails will remove any adhesive that keeps them attached.

Nonetheless, using it incorrectly or over time may cause irritation and damage to your skin and nails. Acetone may be very irritating to people with severe headaches.

2. Why Use Acetone?

The reason why acetone has become an effective way to remove faux nails is that it can easily dissolve the adhesive. Using the cleaner can help remove nail debris and remove excess nail polish from nail beds.

Acetone can quickly remove acrylic and it should be handled cautiously. Occasionally acetone allergy3 sufferers will find it useful to understand what is possible to substitute.

Without further ado, here are the ways:

3. How To Take Off Acrylic Nails:


3.1 Method 1Use a Non-Acetone Remover:

Although acetone is the most common and effective way to remove polish or fake nails, it can cause considerable damage if used regularly. We would recommend a softer or non-acetone nail polish remover to reduce the damage, albeit it might take longer to finish the process.

You can also use a nail polish remover pad instead of a liquid solution. These pads come in compact packaging and are spill-free, easy to carry, and travel-friendly since they have no acetone but are saturated with oils and still do the deed.

That brings us to our next point.

3.2 Method 2- Oils:

How to take off acrylic nails
By: Duskbabe on Unlimphotos

Grease is a good way to take off any kind of paint. Cuticle oils are used for the very purpose of protecting and nurturing your cuticle from the harsh chemicals in the nail paints and removers, the process of buffing, the glue from false nails, and the UV light used for curing or drying them. It is safe to apply cuticle oil on your nails to loosen the grip of the acrylics.

This should be kept at hand for the removal of manicures. It helps to keep the cuticles hydrated before and after a manicure, helps to moisturize them, and helps prevent dandruff and sagging.

If you do not have cuticle oil you know that any sort of essential oils which you may be using on your skin or in your bath are safe and skin-friendly. You can drop a few drops of the oil on the base of the nail and soak it well before the glue softens and you can take off your false nails.

Speaking of skin and baths leads us to our next method.

3.3 Method 3- Soap it up:

nail care manicure water soak
By: Wavebreakmedia on Unlimphotos

The easiest hack you can do at home is soaking your nails in hot soapy water and allowing the nail bed to loosen the glue under your nails. It is recommended that you use hot water as it quickens and allows a painless removal process.

Once the nails are soaked and the adhesive has melted away you can use a cotton swab to peel the fake nail off. Out of all fake nail removal methods, this is the most commonly used one and it usually works most effectively for most people.

3.4 Method 4- Alternatives:

If none of the above-mentioned techniques works, you can use any mild perfume you own or rubbing alcohol in place of an acetone remover. Spray some perfume or rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and rub it on the base of the nail.

Rubbing a slice of lime will also accomplish the deed as it is acidic in nature and a natural product in comparison to a regular nail paint remover or acetone. You can also mix some vinegar with lime juice solution and soak your fingers for half an hour to help soften the acrylic. Your local hand sanitiser also contains acetone and can be used as an alternative.

Unfortunately, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitisers might be as damaging as acetone, even though diluted, as they too cause dryness on the skin and nail bed.

Another alternative method, which blew up as a viral hack on a social media platform, would be to use dental floss or some sort of strong thread. This usually works for acrylic nails that have grown out and you can see the base of your own nails and cuticle area.

Carefully place the thread beneath the base of the acrylic nail from the cuticle side and push it beneath the acrylic nail. You have to essentially sandwich the floss between the acrylic and your nail at the base so that the thread will loosen the grip of the glue from your nail underneath.

If you do not have dental floss at home or you are outside the house where you do not have access to it, you can also use a business card or a credit/debit card which is tough enough and will not bend by pressure. You can use the corner of the card and try to push it between the fake acrylic nail and the real nail. It follows the same technique as the dental floss method4.

*Professional nail experts and salons do not recommend the floss method. If the thread is too sharp or it slips, it may cut your skin and cause bleeding at the nail base. However, if done carefully, it can be a quick fix resort.

It would be advisable to not try the dental floss method by yourself as you would be using only one hand to adjust and pull the thread. Instead, have someone do it for you as they will have a better grip and control on the thread or floss. With proper technique, repetition, and experience you can try it yourself once you have mastered the technique.

3.5 Method 5- Nail file:

manicure session nail care tools
By: Imarin on Unlimphotos

This should ideally be your last resort as it may damage the natural nail beneath the acrylics if not done carefully. Hence we have placed this as the last option. We suggest trimming your acrylic nails with a nail cutter or nail clip as much as possible before filing away with the nail file to cause as little discomfort as possible.

The bulk of the acrylic might take a while to get rid of as you are not using any material to soften the acrylic away from your natural nail. Use the coarse side of the file in a slow back-and-forth motion to file away carefully at your nails.

A gentler method like the ones mentioned earlier would be the best option. Try to take it slow and lift the nail gradually.

4. Advanced Techniques

Mistakes When Using Electric Nail File - STOP Doing These to Avoid Nail Damage

A more advanced technique would be to use an electric nail file which fundamentally does the same thing as a manual nail file but with much less effort. We do not recommend using it without proper training and instruction in doing so. If you do possess an electric nail file, gently file away the acrylic nail in a slow back-and-forth motion.

Since acrylic nails are harder than gel nails you might have to go at it for a while. Hold the file like a pen or a brush and gradually file it away. If at any point you feel distress from using the electric file, it is proposed that you stop using the machine immediately. Do not file at one point on the acrylic nail, keep moving the file back and forth to avoid friction on one point.

This friction might overheat the machine as well as damage your nails underneath. A typhoon coarse drill bit is usually recommended and gives the best results in removing acrylic nails.

High vibrating drills if not utilized correctly can damage your nails, or your client’s nails if you are offering to remove them for someone else and also cause wrist or arm injury.

5. Conclusion

All the methods mentioned above require patience time and careful control to work well. Just as the procedure of applying acrylics 5takes attention and time, so does the taking-off part. That is why most people return to the nail salon they got them done from to redo the process. While we would recommend the same, safely diy-ing things doesn’t hurt.

If you have time on your hands and the skill you can learn to both apply and take off acrylic nails at home by yourself. Using these techniques you can even help someone else to do the same.

Do keep in mind that you cannot soak your nails in hot water for a couple of minutes and expect the acrylic to let go of the adhesive. It needs to be soaked for at least 20 minutes. If the acrylic still doesn’t come off or some chips are left on the nail, try using tweezers to take off the chips.

Some methods might work for you and some may not depending on the type of acrylic nail as well as the amount of time you have had them on. You can try each of these methods to see what works best for you.

Once you try out any of these methods, make sure to wash, clean, and moisturize your hands and most importantly apply cuticle oil6 on your cuticles and the base of the nail to hydrate and protect them from being brittle.

If you reach the end of this article with your acrylics still intact, and not budging whatsoever, it may be time for you to get them removed by an expert.

Also read:

  1. Aalto-Korte, Kristiina. “Acrylic resins.” Kanerva’s occupational dermatology (2020): 737-756. ↩︎
  2. Gadagbui, Bernard, et al. “Derivation of cancer no significant risk levels and screening safety assessment for 2‐nitropropane in spray products.” Journal of Applied Toxicology 40.5 (2020): 691-705. ↩︎
  3. Svedman, C., et al. “Continuous glucose monitoring systems give contact dermatitis in children and adults despite efforts of providing less ‘allergy‐prone’devices: investigation and advice hampered by insufficient material for optimized patch test investigations.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 35.3 (2021): 730-737. ↩︎
  4. Silva, Cláudia, et al. “Does flossing before or after brushing influence the reduction in the plaque index? A systematic review and meta‐analysis.” International Journal of Dental Hygiene 20.1 (2022): 18-25. ↩︎
  5. Sennakesavan, Gangadevi, et al. “Acrylic acid/acrylamide based hydrogels and its properties-A review.” Polymer Degradation and Stability 180 (2020): 109308. ↩︎
  6. Sennakesavan, Gangadevi, et al. “Acrylic acid/acrylamide based hydrogels and its properties-A review.” Polymer Degradation and Stability 180 (2020): 109308. ↩︎


  1. Removing acrylic nails can be a bit tricky, and having a reliable guide like this is incredibly helpful. I especially appreciate the variety of methods you’ve outlined, giving readers the flexibility to choose the one that suits them best.

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