Exactly how to remove your acrylic manicure at home

Kylie Jenner acrylic nails

Without causing serious damage to your nails

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / January 11 2018

If you’re a lover of long nails, chances are you’ve dabbled with acrylic manicures in the past. They give the illusion of beautiful long nails, last for weeks on end and don’t require any patience or precise filing on your part. However, the unfortunate reality of acrylic nails is that they damage your natural nails underneath.  

This is the case as “mechanical drills will often be used to file the natural nail to a rough finish to ensure the acrylic sticks. The natural nail plate will become thin, brittle and dry due to this harsh preparation.” explains nail expert for Sally Hansen, Alison Bowhill-Hayes. “Additionally, the chemicals in the acrylic itself can irritate the skin around the nail and the nail bed, causing further damage.”

Another way acrylics can damage your nails is during the removal process. While the best way to minimise damage is to have your acrylics taken off by a professional, we’re aware that sometimes this isn’t always an option. So we asked Bowhill-Hayes to talk us through exactly how to safely remove an acrylic manicure yourself and the steps you need to take to protect your nails from further damage.

TOP TIP: Don’t pick at them! The number one thing you need to avoid when removing your acrylics is picking at them. When you do, you remove layers of your natural nail, which sets the stage for weakened and damaged nails.


Soak your nails

The best practice for removing your acrylics involves “clipping your acrylics as short as possible, and soaking them in pure acetone for 30 minutes before scraping your nails with a cuticle pusher to remove the excess acrylic,” says Bowhill-Hayes.


Buff away the glue

“Next, buff your nails with a coarse buffer to make sure all residue is completely removed.”

Try: Manicure Buffer 4-Way Block

Manicure Buffer 4-Way Block


Nourish the nail

“File and tidy the nail shape and use a nail treatment to rehydrate the nails as they will be excessively dry, which leads to cracking, splitting and peeling,” explains Bowhill-Hayes.  

Try: Sally Hansen Nail Rehab

Sally Hansen Nail Rehab


Apply vitamin E oil

Massaging pure vitamin E oil into each nail plate “will also help increase recovery as is improves cell turnover and increases metabolism, therefore speeding up nail growth and strength,” shares Bowhill-Hayes.

Try: Plunkett’s Vita E Pure Vitamin E Oil

Plunkett’s Vita E Pure Vitamin E Oil


Give your nails a break

More than anything, it’s important to give your nails a break from acrylics every now and again. “Nails need oxygen to maintain a bright healthy colour and remain in good condition. As a result, it’s best to avoid having nail colour or nail enhancements covering a natural nail for much more than two weeks. If you do then your nails will get a yellow stain and look dull,” says Bowhill-Hayes.

If you prefer to DIY your manis, then we’ve got five simple ways to dress up your manicure this summer.

Let us know what your Holy Grail nail treatment is in the comments below.

Image credit: @kyliejenner


Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.