Can Acrylic Nails Be Removed Easily?

Acrylic nails are becoming a beauty norm, and if you’ve been in the fashion game for a while, it’s likely you’ve at least thought about getting them done. Learning all the ins and outs of getting acrylics done is important, and one of the biggest questions you may have in mind is: can acrylic nails be removed easily?

Though the acrylic nail process is extensive, they can be removed as easily as any other polish application. The methods differ depending on whether you get them removed at a salon, or at home, but they’re all rooted in preserving the integrity of your natural nails.

With the popularity of acrylic nails holding steady, being educated on them, from application to removal, will ease any worries you have about getting them done! Learn all the different approaches, potential issues, and proper aftercare of acrylic nail removal in this article. 

Why Are Acrylic Nails Difficult To Remove?

If you’ve ever gotten acrylic nails done, you know how different your fingers feel post-application. They seem thicker, stronger, and healthier to the touch. This is due to the acrylic, which is a mixture of a liquid monomer and powder polymer, forming a sort of protective shield over your natural nail.

Compared to other polish techniques, an acrylic application is incredibly strong. The overcoat on the nail is particularly resilient, especially when compared to a traditional, or even gel polish application. This makes it extremely popular for folks who like a lot of length to their nails, as they don’t have to worry about their nails breaking before their next appointment.

Acrylic nails are built to last. Their longevity makes them deeply desirable for all age ranges, and there’s no shortage of styles, lengths, and designs to choose from, so they’re universally appealing. Whether you need something simple to wear to work, or something extravagant for a vacation, acrylic nails will last you far longer than other polish options.

To give you an idea as to how long acrylic polishes can last, a single set can last you six to eight weeks with regular fill-ins. You should schedule your fills every 2-3 weeks to keep your nails looking fresh. Once it feels like your nails are looking dingy, cracked, etc- you’ll know it’s time for removal.

Dangers Of Poor Removal Of Acrylic Nails

Part of the reason why acrylic nails get such a bad reputation is that people claim them to be damaging to the natural fingernail. In actuality, acrylic nail application is no more harmful to your nail than a standard polish application. The real problems arise, however, with a poor removal. 

Inexperienced acrylic wearers may think it okay to try and pop old acrylics off or attempt removal without proper prep. These are surefire ways to thin your natural nail. Acrylics grip onto your natural fingernails, so ripping them off compromises the surface of your nails and will leave your fingers thin and weak.

For people who regularly remove acrylic nails this way, their natural nails will not have time to recuperate in-between applications. That means their natural protective shell will not reform. Popping or tearing acrylic off of an already damaged nail can easily leave you with a ripped nail and exposed skin, which is a particularly painful consequence of poor removal.

Your fingernails are there to protect against the delicate, sensitive flesh underneath your nails. Exposing this area will leave you susceptible to bacterial growth and infection. Despite all the terrifying consequences, poor removal can also mean that at the very least, your nails will be dehydrated and brittle- and, while a minor aftermath, it’s still nothing short of annoying.

Taking Acrylic Nails Off At The Salon

Some of us just aren’t nail savvy, and that’s totally okay! All reputable nail salons offer acrylic polish removal, and we recommend it to familiarize yourself with the process and to ensure you’re taking your nails off in the safest way possible.

Here’s what to expect when you get your acrylics removed professionally:

  • Scoring

  • Your nail technician will use a file, or even a metal tool, to score the surface of your nails. Depending on where you go, this is also the stage in which your acrylics may be clipped short as well. 

  • Soaking

  • The technician will then soak cotton balls or pads with acetone. They’ll lay these directly onto the scored nail and press it in, allowing it to seep into the acrylic. 

  • Wrapping

  • They’ll then wrap your fingers and the cotton with aluminum foil. This allows the acetone to stay in place and cultivates the heart of your body to speed up the process.

  • Waiting

  • With this process, patience is key! You may have your fingers wrapped for what seems like forever, but it’s all in good spirits. Allowing the acetone to work its magic for as long as possible will ensure an even removal on the first try.

How To Remove Acrylics At Home

After you get your acrylics moved at the salon, you’ll come to realize that they don’t use fancy materials to take your nails off. That means that this exact process can be replicated from the comfort of your own home, and it’ll be just as effective.

However, there are a couple of other methods you can try out that can be just as effective. Here are two of the most popular techniques to DIY your acrylic removal…

The Bowl Method

This technique is extremely similar to the salon technique. We would recommend it to folks whose acrylics have been on their nails for a couple of weeks. The sooner you do this method after initial application, the less effective it will be.

It starts with scoring your nails. You can do this with a nail file, grit, or if your nails are on their last leg of life, by gently popping one of the corners. 

Then, fill a metal tray or bowl (dedicated to polish removal!) with 100% acetone. Dip your hands in and make sure that all of your nails are completely covered in the solution. From here, all you have to do is wait 30-40 minutes for the acetone to do its thing. Try not to remove your hands from the bowl, letting them soak for as long as possible is vital.

When time is up, use an orange stick or pusher to gently scrape the acrylic off of your natural nail. If you feel resistance, don’t work your way through it- that means you need to soak for a little longer. Repeat the process as needed to thoroughly remove your nails.

The Dental Floss Method

We want to preface this by saying that this technique is best used on nails that are barely hanging on as is. Do not do this on fresh acrylics or nails that are seriously stuck on your natural nail, but if your acrylics are lifting in all sorts of corners, this method can get them off in seconds.

You can enlist the help of a friend if you can’t do this on your own, but the technique is simple. Grab some dental floss (or any other thin, flexible string) and slide it underneath the lifted acrylic. Then, use a sawing motion to work through the compromised adhesive, effectively popping the nail off.

Aftercare Of Acrylic Nail Removal

It’s normal for your nails to feel a bit raw after the removal process. Even when done safely, your natural nail will still be a bit thinner than it was upon initial application.

To remedy this, and get your nails feeling strong again, rehydrate with some hand lotion and cuticle oil. This will reintroduce moisture into your nails and keep them less brittle. Clipping them down is optional, though some aficionados recommend it as it keeps potential tears from working their way down the nail. 

Once your nails have absorbed all that moisture, lock everything in place with a nail-strengthening polish to keep them nourished and protected from breakage. 


Getting acrylic nails done is a beautiful process, and can give you that confidence boost you need to feel your absolute best, and now that you’re acquainted with how easy the removal process is, you can rest easy knowing that your natural nails are protected and safe the entire time.