The *right* way to remove SNS nails at home

How to remove SNS nails at home

For when you just can’t make it to the salon

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / August 03 2022

SNS (Signature Nail Systems) nails are the absolute jam, and they’ve become a popular manicure choice for many reasons – namely because they don’t involve placing your precious little digits under UV light (they involve a unique nail dipping system instead), plus it’s super long-lasting and can *easily* stick around anywhere between three to four weeks without chipping, peeling or lifting, unlike other options like Shellac nails or acrylic nails. BIAB nails, however, are a whole different story...

But you know the feels when that SNS regrowth gets a little too obvious? Well, the last thing you want to do is pick or pull off your SNS nails – and we feel you, it is a HARD time. But you don’t want to mess around with them - the main ‘adhesive’ ingredient used in SNS nails is also the main ingredient in super glue, so trying to pull them off can cause a whole lot of damage, not to mention it can put you in a world of pain!

If you attempt to peel SNS nails off, you’ll essentially remove the layers of your natural nail (eek!) in the process, which can then cause your nails to become super weak and prone to breaking and splitting. 

So, what’s the best removal process? Well, going to a trained nail technician is your best bet for removing SNS nails safely and to minimise any potential damage to your nails

However, if you’re anything like us and you find yourself strapped for time/money and can’t make it into the nail salon to get your SNS nails removed, and your nails are looking very past their use-by date, there is a way to remove them at home without damaging your nails.

While a nail expert generally won’t advocate removing gel nail polish at home, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, and this is a much safer method than trying to pick and pull them off. So, here’s what you need to do:


Buff off the top layer

Instead of using a professional electrical filing tool like they use at the salon, you’re going to have to go the manual route. Using a nail file or a buffer like The Body Shop Nail Polishing Block ($10 at The Body Shop), you’ll need to gently remove the gel top coat (the glossy layer) off the SNS on all 10 nails. Basically, each nail will need to go from shiny to matte in appearance. Getting rid of this protective top coat will make it easier for your polish remover to break down the hard colour in order to remove your SNS. Alright, we're off to a smashing start.


Soak a cotton pad in acetone

Next, you’ll need to grab some acetone, cotton pads and aluminium foil to soak your nails. It’s important that you use acetone remover for this step; we like the Cutex Nail Polish Remover ($4.49 at Chemist Warehouse) as non-acetone formulas won’t be strong enough to remove the SNS formula. You’ll also want to make sure your room has good ventilation to avoid breathing in the acetone; the fragrance isn't exactly ideal. Start by soaking the cotton pads in the acetone nail polish remover then place them directly on each of your nails. 


Wrap each nail in foil

Wrap each nail in aluminium foil tightly by twisting the end to keep the cotton pad close to your nail and to stop the acetone from leaking out. We recommend cutting large rectangles of aluminium foil before starting to set yourself up for success. It’s pretty similar to the process they use at the nail salon, and you’ll have to wait at least 15 to 20 minutes for the acetone to dissolve the hardened SNS powder. Anyone keen on an episode of Schitt's Creek?


Gently remove the polish

Rather than removing all aluminium wraps and realising it hasn’t dissolved properly (guilty!), check one nail first. Remove the foil and slightly press/rub the cotton pad over your nail in order to wipe off the dissolved dipping powder. You’ll know they’re ready because the polish will be gooey and mushy – it should rub off quite easily. Repeat on the rest of your nails, wiping each one clean with a paper towel. If the polish isn’t coming off easily, repeat steps #2 and #3 until it is.


Tidy and hydrate your natural nails

Once you’ve removed your SNS manicure, you’ll want to focus on doing everything you can to repair, clean up and nourish your cuticles and nail beds. For starters, we recommend tidying things up a tad with a tool like the Manicare maniPRO 2-in-1 Cleaner and Pusher ($121.19 at Manicare). Then, once everything's looking and feeling fresh, it's time to restore lost hydration. Exposing your nails to chemicals and solvents (like those used during the SNS nail application process) can leave your nails looking pretty unhealthy, so it’s best to show them a little TLC and apply a cuticle oil like the Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($17.99 at Adore Beauty) to keep them hydrated. You can also apply a nail strengthener like the OPI Natural Nail Strengthener ($20.95 at Myer) to harden and protect your nails. Tip: If you notice that your nails are looking quite flaky and damaged, it’s a sign you should give them a little break from manicures. Let those babies breathe; they'll soon be back better than ever.


Main image credit: @kyliejenner

If you’re looking for more manicure tips, check out the 2021 nail trends you need to know.

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.