Remove Acrylics at Home Without Ruining Your Natural Nails in 4 Easy, Expert-Backed Steps

The process is surprisingly easy.

As beauty trends come and go, one thing that remains consistent is nail art continues to become more and more elaborate. From modern French manicures to multi-colored swirls and abstract shapes, a simple search of #nailart on Instagram will give you millions of intricate manicures, especially on acrylics.

Detailed manicures aren’t a new trend—Black women have embraced bold nail art on their extra long manis for years. However, with the rise of interest in intricate designs, more people are leaning towards nail extensions, such as acrylics, to offer more space for detailed nail art. Not to mention, acrylics can last up to three weeks, offering more bang for your buck.

Admittedly, when it’s time for a new set, removing acrylics can be a bit of a hassle. You can get them professionally removed at a salon, but you can also remove acrylic nails at home if you know how to do it. All it takes is having the right tools and patience to make sure you get your acrylics off without damaging your natural nails. Ahead, we tapped two nail experts to learn how to safely remove acrylic nails at home.

Step 1: Clip nail extensions.

First things first, Darlene Sritapan, a California-based licensed nail tech and OPI education and capability manager, says to clip the extensions so that there’s less faux nail to remove during the rest of the process. You’ll want to get them as short as possible to make the following steps easier.

Step 2: File them down.

After you’ve clipped down the acrylics, Sritapan says to file down the nails to remove most of the enhancement. Gina Edwards, a celebrity nail artist and KISS brand ambassador says, “the process to remove acrylics at the salon starts with using a nail drill to remove 70% of the product.” So essentially, you’re doing this part at home with a nail file. Sritapan recommends using a 180 grit file, which is a grainer, thicker file that will wear down the chunky acrylics. Just be sure to avoid filing down to the natural nail, she says. 


Makartt Nail File

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Step 3: Soak your nails.

“The best way to remove acrylics at home is by using an acetone-based remover,” says Edwards. There are two ways you can do this. The first is by soaking them in a bowl of acetone-based remover and checking every 15 minutes to see if the acrylic has lifted, explains Sritapan. The second is soaking a cotton ball in acetone-based nail polish remover, placing that on the acrylic, wrapping each finger with foil, and again, checking every 15 minutes to see if the acrylic has loosened up. Both methods work to break down the acrylics.


Sally Beauty Pure Acetone Manicurist Solvent

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Step 4: Remove acrylics.

After the nails feel soft after soaking, use an orangewood stick to gently lift and remove what’s left of the acrylics. “Remove as much as possible without being too aggressive. Then, if you need it, soak for another five minutes and repeat,” says Sritapan. Edwards says the entire process of removing acrylics can take about an hour, but it’s so much better to go slow and steady than accidentally damaging your natural nails.

Once you’re all done removing your acrylics, give your hands and nails some extra TLC. “Aftercare removal is key to healthy nails,” says Edwards. Follow up with a strengthening nail treatment and hand lotion to maintain strength and hydration, and alas, you’ve officially nailed it—cheesy pun intended.