Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.
If you’ve ever gotten acrylic nails, you’re familiar with the guilt that comes when you impulsively rip them off. Whether you didn’t want to pay a professional to remove them or if they unexpectedly break, you can end up with a very damaged nail bed if you rip off an acrylic nail. “If applied or removed incorrectly, acrylic nails could cause damage to the natural nail,” said nail artist Teana. “Do not peel it off or rip it off your existing nail: It will remove precious keratin layers of your natural nail.”
Teana told TODAY Style that the best and safest way to remove acrylic nails is to go to a professional at a nail salon. Make sure to go to good quality nail salons for the nail services, and always consult with the specialist. If you keep your services up-to-date and try to maintain refills regularly, it’ll minimize damage and your nail beds will be in good shape.
But we’re realistic and know not everyone has the time — or money to spare — to constantly go and see a manicurist. So, as a last resort, Teana says it is possible to remove acrylic nails at home. Just follow these three steps.
How to remove acrylic nails at home
- 1. File them
Nail technicians will use an e-file nail drill to remove the top layers. Since it’s likely you won’t have the same tool at home, you can remove the top layer by filing it off with a regular nail file. Instead of doing it the normal way, at the very top edge of the nail, you’ll file the layer that the acrylic nail covers until it thins out.
- 2. Soak in acetone
She says removal — whether at-home or in the salon — always requires an acetone soak. Because these nails are a combination of a liquid monomer and powder polymer that creates a hard protective layer, the acetone breaks it down and makes it softer for easy removal.
Instead of soaking your fingers in a bowl of acetone, soak a piece of cotton with acetone and place it on top of the filed down nail. Then wrap the finger with foil and wait about twenty minutes before taking the foil and cotton off.
- 3. Scrape them off gently
The acrylic nails should be soft enough to scrape off, but she advises against using metal tools to do so. “Natural nails become soft with acetone and could be damaged if you get too rough with removal or use metal tools as part of the process,” she said. “The key is to be gentle.” Instead, she recommends using a paper towel.
How to care for nails after removing acrylics
To keep your nails in its best shape pre- and post-acrylic nails, try these product recommendations from Teana to take care of those cuticles.
- 1. Nail Tek Intensive Therapy Treatment, $7, Amazon
Also available for $11 at Ulta.
Made with a special protein formula, she says this treatment helps heal weak, thin, soft or peeling nails. Perfect for restoring cuticles back to their best health.
- 2. Burt's Bees 100% Natural Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, $6, Walmart
Also available at Target.
If your nails have become brittle, she recommends this cuticle butter. It’s extremely nourishing and hydrating.
- 3. Burt's Bees Almond & Milk Hand Cream, $15 (Pack of 2), Amazon
“This super rich cream help hydrate and shield hard-working hands,” she said. “The beeswax seals and conditions the skin.”
- 4. Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Creme, $14 (Pack of 3), Amazon
Also available for $5 (for one) at Target.
“It repairs and gently exfoliates dry, rough skin on the hands and fingers,” she said.
Gel manicure addict? Check out our advice for removing gel nail polish at home.
Shop TODAY takes care to recommend our favorite items chosen by trusted experts and editors, as well as inform our readers of great deals, customer favorites, and newsworthy products from around the web. For more on our process, click here.