How To Remove Acrylic Nails At Home During The Pandemic

May 8, 2020
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Mollie Kendrick


The last time I got my nails done was just days before everything shut down with the stay-at-home order. Back then, I thought everything was going to be fine, because there was still a lot of talk early on that the shutdown would only (hopefully) last a couple weeks. 

Obviously that was not the case, and the pandemic was on a much larger scale than any of us could have ever imagined. Still, I held onto my acrylic nails for seven weeks, hoping that things would change. (Spoiler alert: they didn't, and nail salons are not part of the phase 2 plan for reopening California). 

Between observing my nail tech and looking up quick YouTube tutorials online, I learned how to easily and safely remove my acrylics at home without having to dunk my hands in a bowl full of acetone for an hour. Get ready to be amazed, and add the following items to your shopping list or order on Amazon: 

  • Cotton balls
  • Acetone
  • Aluminum foil
  • Toenail clipper (yes, you want the big boy) 
  • Electric nail file (I used this Clio nail grooming set, which I picked up at Target)

Mollie Kendrick

You can do the first couple steps in different orders. I did each hand one at a time, in different orders, and really there is no right or wrong way to do this. Just do what works best for you! 

Steps 1-2

Remove your gel polish with the electric nail file. Take your time with this, and don't get too crazy with filing away all of the acrylic. You could certainly do that, however, I didn't because I was nervous I wouldn't know when to stop and accidentally file away my actual nail. Files are NOT good for your nails (granted, neither are acrylics), so you need to be very careful not to get carried away. 

Once you've removed the gel polish, trim your acrylics with the toenail clipper one little bit at a time. 

Like I said, I switched up these steps on both hands and, ultimately, got the same results. Trim first and then file, and vice versa. 

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Mollie Kendrick

Step 3

Now that you've gotten off a good chunk of that acrylic and the gel polish, it's time to let them soak in acetone! I hate the idea of putting my fingers in a bowl of acetone mostly because I've done it before and it is a weird dry-feeling sensation that really bugs me. Acetone is really strong, and while it's not going to kill you by putting your hands in it, it is a really unpleasant substance to deal with.

To make it easy on yourself, do one hand at a time so you can let your nails soak while you do household chores or at least have one hand to play on your phone with. 

Cut up aluminum foil into squares that will cover a good portion of your finger. One by one, soak a cotton ball in acetone and place it on top of your fingernail. Cover with a square of foil, and crunch the foil around your finger so it looks like a smoked turkey leg. 

Once you have all five smoked turkey legs on your hand, you're good to go! Let those puppies soak for around 45-60 minutes. 

Mollie Kendrick

Step 4

Once they're done soaking, the acrylic should feel like jelly on your nails. This will make it easy to remove either with your fingers or a tool like the nail file on your toenail clipper. It will be difficult to get ALL of the acrylic off, so don't stress if there's a little bit left. You can repeat this soaking process again if you'd like, or use the electric file to aid in getting just a little bit more off. Again, be careful not to get too carried away with the electric file. 

Your nails will NOT be perfect. In fact, they will look AWFUL. This is just what happens when you put acrylics on your nails and then remove them, so don't be too hard on yourself. But now you have a practical skill that you can use to save some money at home if you ever need to remove your acrylics in the future! If you ever have surgery down the road, your doctor will want you to remove them, so this process may come in handy if that's ever the case. 

Mollie Kendrick