You have been enjoying your acrylics for a few months, and they have grown out, so you want to get these acrylic nails off. You might have heard many bad stories on acrylic nails removal from other people, and you wonder how you can safely and quickly remove these hard, fake acrylics that still stuck on your nails without ruining them if you decide to do it yourself at home.

How to take off acrylic nails safely without damaging the natural nails depends on how long these nails have been applied because the older they are, the weaker an acrylic bond so they can be removed easily by using simple techniques. If they are new, this bond is still strong and needs to be soaked in acetone to get them off so the natural nails will be preserved.

How to get acrylic nails off the proper way

The right way to remove acrylic nails is to soak them in acetone. This is a safe way that nail salons use to get the old acrylics off their customers’ nails. This method takes time. However, it is the safest way to take acrylics off without causing any physical damages to the natural nails.

Why? you might ask. Acrylics attach to the nails with a tough adhesive bond. If the acrylic nails are less than one month old, this bond will be stronger than the nails. If you try to remove these new acrylic nails using a physical means, the weaker natural nails are the ones that give, and you will peel them off instead of your acrylics, causing your nails to thin out.

How to soak off acrylic nails

Soaking off acrylic nails is a preferably two-person job.

If you have your acrylic nails taken off at a nail salon, you will see what I mean. A nail technician will have you sit down comfortably at a nail table because you will have to sit for at least 20 minutes.

She then will clip down the extended acrylic nails so there will be less to work. If you want to keep your real nails, she will not cut into your natural nails.

Many people like to have gel polish on top of their acrylics because it lasts up to 4 weeks. If you do have gel polish on top of acrylics, she will then either use a nail file or a nail drill to remove the gel polish top coat first. This gel top coat is resistant to acetone. Having it removed will let the acetone go directly to the acrylic nails, and it will cut down on soaking time.

Now your acrylic nails are ready to be soaked in a bowl filled with acetone which all your acrylic nails will be submerged.

To speed up the soaking process, you can place this acetone bowl in a slightly larger bowl with some hot water. Hot acetone will dissolve the acrylics faster than if it is cold. The heat can be kept longer by covering your hands and bowls with a hand towel.

You will have to sit there for about 10 minutes before your nail technician comes back to remove the melt acrylics on each of your nails with a file or a nail drill and soak them again.

She will leave for about five minutes before she comes back and filing off the softened acrylics, and have them soaked back in the acetone bowl.

The above process is repeated until all acrylic powder is completely removed from your fingernails. Depending on how thick your acrylic nails are that more time is needed. It could take from 3 to 5 filing times.

She then washes off the thin acrylic film that covers your fingers with clean acetone.

And that is how to take off acrylic nails by soaking them in acetone is done.

If acrylic nails are more than one month old and they start to lift, your nail technician can use a big-sized nail tip or a removal tool (if she has one) to speed up the removal process. It is a thin and flexible piece of steel that she can insert in the lifted acrylics and gently rock it back and forth to separate the acrylics further until it comes off the nail.

It is a good practice to pour some acetone over the gap to help loosen the acrylic bond.

I have used mine to take thousands of old acrylic nails without damaging my customers’ nails over the years. 

Pro tip 1: an experienced nail technician will only take out one of your fingernails at a time and let the other nine soaked. Taking more acrylic nails off the acetone bowl will cause them to harden in about 30 seconds. Harden acrylics will not be filed away easily.

Pro tip 2: you should wait for about 10 seconds after you remove one fingernail out of the acetone bowl before you start filling. This 10-second wait will make the acrylic dry up a little so it will not be gummed up on your nail file or drill bit.

Pro tip 3: if any of the acrylic nails lift from the real nails because the bond on the entire nail is weak, then you can gently and slowly pry it off using a nail tip, or any flat acetone-proof item to separate it from the nail. Do this with extreme caution, or you risk peeling of the natural nails.

When you should not take off acrylic nails at home

You should not remove acrylic nails yourself at home if your acrylic full set is less than one month old and if they do not have severe lifting problems. The new adhesive bond between acrylics and your nails will be structurally stronger than your own nails, so trying to pry or peel them off will result in damaging your own nails which you have to live with for a few months until they grow out.

For whatever reason that you must take these acrylic nails off less than a month after you have them put on, you should wait until you can get to your nail salon and have them removed.

Taking your new acrylic nails off at a nail salon only costs about $10 and takes about half an hour without you having the mess on your hands for hours.

If the length of acrylic nails bothers you so much, you can clip them shorter with a nail clipper, and shape them a little to remove any sharp edges, and wait until you can get to a nail salon.

How to shorten an acrylic nail with a nail clipper: to clip an acrylic nail short, position your nail clipper so that it will be where you want to cut short and place it at one side of the nail about 1/8 of an inch deep and press your nail clipper firmly and quickly. If you do it right, the acrylic nail will crack across the acrylic nail.

Unless you have a person who volunteers to lend you her two hands and you can use the method of taking acrylic nails off used in a nail salon I mentioned above, your safest way is to wait to have a person who can help you or come to your nail salon to have them removed.

How to take off acrylic nails at home

If your acrylic nail set is less than one month old, the safest way to remove acrylic nails at home is to soak them off.

How you soak off acrylic nails at home is pretty much the same way it is done at a nail salon.

Again, removing acrylic nails is a two-person job, preferably. 

If you have somebody who can help you with it, the best way to remove your acrylic nails either they are new or old is to soak them off in acetone.

You can use the method which nail salons for customers that I talked about in the above section. You can have her (or him) read about this section she knows how it is done.

If you do not have a nail drill or the person who helps you is not familiar with using one, a coarse nail file is good enough.

The best way to file off the softened acrylic is using long strokes. You should hold the nail file at one end and try to file the acrylics along with the nail file until you almost get to the other end.

If you use a brand new nail file for the first time, its edges are very sharp. You should run the edges against another nail file three or four times to get rid of these sharp edges so they will not cut your fingers.

She can take one of your acrylic nails out of the acetone bowl, wait ten seconds, then removing the softened acrylic with a nail file using long strokes.

After she is done with all ten nails, you should keep them soaked for five minutes.

Then she can start filing softened acrylics on all nails, one at a time while others are still soaked.

Repeat the above process until all acrylics are off the nails.

The above method is a chemical removal of acrylic nails, it employs the use of acetone.

If your acrylic nails are more than one month old and have many acrylic fillsOpens in a new tab., you can use one of the physical removal methods I list below together with soaking your acrylic nails or you can use them by themselves. 

How to take off acrylic nails without acetone

To take off acrylic nails without acetone at home fast and safely that will not damage your natural nails, you must first determine whether if your acrylics do not have a good bond with your nails. You can tell by just looking at the nails after the polish is removed.

For some reasons you do not like your new acrylic nails and want to take them off and you do not have any acetone. DON’T! Properly applied acrylic powder will have fresh, strong bond to the nails. You will end up ripping your nails, especially at the free edges where super strong nail glue is used to attach the nail tips. You should wait to have them soaked off in acetone.

If the acrylics still bond to the nail tightly, you will see clear and transparent acrylics. In this case, you should wait until you can have until you have some acetone or have these taken off at a nail salon.

If the acrylics do not have a strong bond to the nail, you will see the acrylics form a cloudy, non-transparent white color on the nail. The cloudier the acrylics look, the easier it can be taken off your nails with one of the methods below.

How to take off acrylic nails with hot water:

You should know how to get acrylic nails off at home using hot water. Since hot water will expand the acrylic nails and also loosen the chemical bond between them and the natural nails, so you can get them off with less effort and less pain by using a physical removal method.

Again, this method works best if your acrylics are older than one month or show a weak bond which you can tell if they are cloudy looking.

Get a big bowl that can hold both hands comfortably, or use a plastic container that can hold up to one gallon of hot water. You need it this big because if you use too little water, it will get cooler fast and it will take longer.

Soak your acrylic nails in hot water (hot enough but it will not burn your hands) for about 5 minutes.

Using fingers from one hand and start to bend fingers from the other hand back and forth or up and down.

Do this for all ten nails.

Repeat the above action until all the acrylic nails are removed from your nails.

How to take off acrylic nails using flat objects:

If your acrylic nails are old and do not have a strong bond to your natural nails and there are separations, you can use any thin, acetone-proof object to gently and slowly pry them off your nails. You can use any of the following:

  • Plastic card
  • Nail tips
  • Dental floss

If you use any of the above items to take off your acrylic nails, it is always beneficial to have acetone. If you do not have acetone, the next best thing is heat. Soaking your acrylic nails in hot water will weaken the bond. This helps to pry them off easier and quicker.

Give yourself plenty of time if you want to take off your old acrylic nails at home. If you give yourself some extra few minutes removing your acrylic nails will prevent your nails from breaking, peeling, or breaking so you will not have to go through the period of waiting for your nails to grow back.


Acrylic nails are the most durable fake nails, but they are also the most difficult ones to take off. You must be patient, and use an appropriate method to remove them. If you do that, you will minimize the damage to your natural nails.

Related topics:

How often should you get a new set of acrylic nails?Opens in a new tab.

Recent Posts