A Step-By-Step Guide To Safely Remove Acrylic Nails Or Manicure Dip While Stuck At Home

Our nails are our way of practicing self-care.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Safely Remove Acrylic Nails Or Manicure Dip While Stuck At Home getty

In an effort to "flatten the curve," or slow the spread of coronavirus, "non-essential" businesses and locations have shut down across the world. Places like banks, department stores, schools, and parks are to remain closed until further notice.

But slowing the spread of coronavirus has closed nail salons, meaning that a lot of the self-care rituals we treat ourselves to, like massages or trips to the nail salon, are on pause. If you're like most people, you go to the salon to remove your acrylics; now, you're left wondering how to remove acrylic nails on your own.


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For those of us who already have gel, powder, acrylics on our nails, this can be an issue. We know there's a strong possibility of lockdowns and quarantines going on for months, and our nail health is on our minds, leaving us with questions we desperately want answered.


Can we leave acrylics on our nails for that long, even after they have long grown out? Is it even safe?

Says Julie Kandalec, celebrity manicurist and nail artist, “It's not dangerous per se, but after it's been on for about 4 weeks, the weight balance gets thrown off.”

As nails get too long, they can break or become damaged. Kandalec says to think of it like this: “Like two kids on a teeter-totter, as the nail grows out, it's like the bigger kid on the one side: the nail becomes too heavy and can cause damage.”

When should we remove acrylic nails on our own?

“If the nail starts to lift, it should be removed to ensure there isn't a bacterial infection growing under the nail (the green spots that occasionally pop up),” warns Kandalec. But be aware: this is not fungus.

Adds Kandalec, “If there are green spots, remove the enhancement to give it oxygen, cleanse with alcohol, and gently buff to lighten the spot. Let it grow out.”


How do you remove acrylic nails on your own?

Before you panic, take a deep breath and relax. Because there are methods to removing acrylics or dips by yourself.

The safest way to remove an acrylic or dip manicure at home is by using something Kandalec calls "the soak and roll method."



A post shared by Julie K  Nails & Travel (@julieknailsnyc) on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:25am PDT

Here's what you'll need:

  • 100 percent Pure Acetone (*not* acetone polish remover)
  • 2-3 coarse nail files (100/180 grit)
  • 1 padded buffer
  • 1-2 orangewood sticks
  • 1 medium grit nail file (220/320 grit)
  • 1 fine grit nail file (400/600 grit)  
  • Cuticle oil 
  • A glass or ceramic bowl (never plastic!)

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Next, follow this step-by-step guide to removing your acrylic nails or dips safely:

1. First, soften the edge of your coarse files so you don’t cut your cuticles by running them on the side of another coarse nail file.

2. Using the 100 or 180 grit file, file off as much of the product off as you can, or about 75 percent. This is important because it cuts down soaking time significantly. (Expert tip: Leaving the surface extra rough will allow the acetone to penetrate easier. Also, never clip your enhancements because they will crack and cause damage to your nail!)

3. Apply cuticle oil to the cuticle area and underneath the free edge. Use a dropper or Q-tip instead of the brush to stay germ-free.


4. Pour about 1 inch of acetone into your bowl and place your hand in it. Kandalec recommends doing one hand at a time so you can text or snack.

5. Cover your nails with a towel to prevent evaporation and allow the acetone to work faster. (Another important tip: Never use actual heat — acetone is very flammable!)

6. When the acrylic is softened after 5-15 minutes, gently nudge it towards the tip of the nail using an orangewood stick (not metal). Never push towards the cuticle (or against the grain) just after they’ve been soaking in acetone.

7. Use your medium grit file to roll the softened acrylic off the nail until it doesn’t roll anymore.


8. Re-apply the cuticle oil and re-soak nails. Repeat until all acrylic or dip is gone.

9. Finish by lightly smoothing nails with your fine grit file.

10. Apply cuticle oil to re-hydrate your nails and skin, and you’re done! 

What do you do if you don't have all the manicure tools to remove your acrylics?

If you don't have all these tools, there's no need to worry. There are alternate step-by-step instructions you can use, as recommended by celebrity manicurist and nail expert, Tee Hundley.

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Here's what you'll need:

  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Cotton
  • Foil
  • Cuticle pusher or orangewood stick
  • Nail file
  • Nail clipper
  • Cuticle oil or olive oil
  • Buffer
  • Optional: clear nail lacquer/hardener

Then, follow these steps to remove your dips or acrylics.

1. File all over your nails to break the seal. The nail should be matte. 


2. Soak a cotton ball in acetone and place it on top of the nail.

3. Wrap individual nails with a 3x3 piece of foil, and let soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Unwrap the nails and use the wood stick/cuticle pusher to push product off the nail. (Try to avoid scraping the nail too harshly.) If all of the product doesn't remove, repeat steps 2-4.

5. Cut the nails to a workable length, if necessary. Your nails are probably a bit weak, so you'll want to avoid a break by cutting them down.


6. Buff nails to get excess product off and smooth them out.

7. Wash hands.

8. Apply nail hardener or clear nail lacquer.

9. Once dry, rub cuticle oil into and around nails. Apply twice per day.

10. Reapply the lacquer or hardener in 48 hours to help nail strength

While it's uncertain when we'll be able to return to the nail salon and get a fresh manicure, in the meantime, treat yourself to a DIY manicure from the comfort of your own home.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.