Nail Makeup

How To Remove Fake Nails At Home: At-Home Nail Care

Fake nails are a life saver if you struggle with growing your nails. It’s always wise to have pre-hand knowledge of removing it by yourself.

Written by Manal Yahya

On Mar 30, 2023 – 11 minutes read

How To Remove Fake Nails

Kylie Jenner’s never-ending acrylic nails may seem tempting, but for those of us leading active lifestyles, six-inch-long, sharp nails can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, you can opt for fancy fake nails, from acrylic nails to press-on nails, that require less maintenance. While wearing them is simple enough, the real question is: how do you remove fake nails at home?

Fake nails can be just as visually striking as Kylie’s. There’s something undeniably sophisticated about acrylic nails, isn’t there? Yet, the glitter and glamour fade when it’s time to remove them. The million-dollar question becomes: how do you remove fake nails at home without damaging your real nails? Going back and forth to the salon for application and removal isn’t always convenient or enjoyable. So, how do you remove fake nails glued on? That’s the next challenge to tackle.

How To Remove Fake Nails At Home?

The longevity of nail extensions is always up for debate. What is their durability? How long do you keep the fake nails? When do you take them off? What if you want to take them off too soon? Well, before the fuss begins about when those pretty nails need to come off, you need to worry about how to take them off. Learn how to remove acrylic nails without acetone for a gentle alternative.

Considering all aspects, you might have initially believed that removing fake nails required scheduling additional salon appointments for professional assistance. However, contrary to this notion, while some experts suggest seeking assistance from licensed nail technicians, it’s entirely possible to remove fake nails at home without harming your natural nails. Discover how to remove fake nails at home without tools for a hassle-free experience.

how to remove fake nails glued on

Skip the Salon, Be the Pro Yourself

With some time and patience, you can ace this fake nail removal process without the help of a professional. It isn’t as impossible as it was originally thought to be! Keep an hour of your day for this and put some music before making yourself a spa at home. Yes, a spa station with a clean and ventilated work area just like how a manicure would do. If you are using acetone, make sure to sit by a window or you can switch on the fan to avoid the strong scent.

When using acetone to remove nails (if you choose to), and clipping off your fake nails, it’s essential to protect the surface you’re working on. You can do this by folding a towel in half and placing a paper towel on top of it. There are ten different proven methods, both with acetone and without, that you can try at home to remove acrylic fake nails. Fortunately, you won’t need many tools or materials for these methods either. After removing the enhancements, it’s crucial to follow additional steps to maintain the health of your natural nails.

Apply Nail Guards

This is an important step you need to consider prior to adding any fake nails. These are the super-thin nail-shaped films that are applied to your real nails before putting on any acrylic, gel, or gel polish manicure. If you do this step before adding fake nails, it will be much easier for you to remove them. Because nail guards create a barrier between the artificial nail and the natural nail. So any fake nail can be applied on top of the guard. 

remove acrylic nails without acetone

How to remove fake nails with nail guards under?

  1. While removing, apply a generous amount of cuticle oil to the base of each nail. 
  2. Then, use a manicure stick to gently lift the fake nail by slipping the stick under the nail guard from side to side until it is loosened. 
  3. You may need to apply additional cuticle oil with the stick to completely remove the fake nails.
  4. After the nail guard is loosened, you will be able to lift the fake nails as well.

Clip And file

The first step in the fake nail removal process is clipping the extension. You won’t be able to fill your acrylic nails at home by yourself, so cut them down using a sharp nail clipper without snipping your real nails. Cut down the extensions as much as possible and maybe leave about two centimeters of nails above your nail bed. This is the fastest way to get down to your real nail length.

How to remove fake nails at home without tools

After you are done cutting, file off the shine and the bulk of the acrylic. If you have regular nail polish, remove them with a nail polish remover. The more you file off your acrylic, the less time you have to soak in acetone. So, file away without using too much pressure to cause damage to your real nails.

How To Remove Fake Nails with Acetone?

How to remove fake nails at home? Acetone serves as a lifesaver in the process of removing fake nails. As a potent chemical liquid, it efficiently dissolves acrylic nails, making removal effortless. While acetone should not frequently contact the skin due to its strength, it is generally safe for removing extensions. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution and implement safety measures when using it. 

  1. Pour acetone into a bowl and dip your fingers in it. 
  2. Wait for 20 to 30 minutes. 

While your fingers are dipped in acetone, use your thumb to rub the other four fingers — it will break down the nails faster. This is the easiest method you will find but your skin will be dry.

Baby Oil and Acetone

Although it is a much gentler way, not everyone uses this method. But it is an effortless method.

how to remove fake nails with hot water

Steps: How to Remove Fake Nails with Baby Oil and Acetone?

  1. Warm a bowl of acetone using warm water.
  2. Mix a small amount of a mineral-based product such as baby oil to the warmed acetone.
  3. Soak your nails for 45 minutes to remove them without prying.

How To Remove Fake Nails with Acetone And Warm Water

How to remove fake nails at home with acetone

Steps: How to Remove Fake Nails at home with Acetone and Warm water?

  1. After clipping your acrylic nails as short as possible, push your cuticles with the cuticle stick or orange stick.
  2. After filling up a bowl with acetone, gently keep the bowl inside another larger bowl with warm water in it. Warm acetone works faster. 
  3. To protect your skin around cuticles from drying effects, you can apply petroleum jelly on the skin before dipping your nails in the bowl. 
  4. Dip the entire length of your fake nails in the acetone and wait for 30-40 minutes.
  5. After the time is up, check if the fake nails are soft enough to be able to pull them out gently using tweezers. 
  6. Do not yank the nails if they don’t come off. Soak them in acetone for some more time and try again. It’s good to apply cuticle oil after removing the fake nails.

Caution: Do not microwave acetone as it is highly flammable.

How To Remove Fake Nails With Acetone and Aluminum Foil?

how to remove acrylic nails at home with nail polish remover
  1. After clipping and filing your nails, apply petroleum jelly on the skin surrounding the cuticles. 
  2. Soak a few cotton pads in acetone and place them on your nails.
  3. Tear pieces of aluminum foil and warp them over the cotton pads so that it stays in place. Give them a squeeze and make sure that a bit of acetone is dripping out of your foil to know that you have enough on the cotton.
  4. Rest for 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Once the waiting period is over, carefully remove the aluminum foil. The acrylic nails should come off with it. If they do not, keep them wrapped for a bit longer and wait until they come off naturally. Avoid prying them off forcefully.

How To Remove Fake Nails with Acetone and Plastic Bags

how to remove fake press-on nails

Entirely not environment friendly, this is another easy method to remove fake nails without much trouble or effort. 

How To Remove Fake Nails With Acetone and Plastic Bags?

  1. Take a large ziplock bag and fill it with acetone enough for you to dip your nails fully in it.
  2. Tilt the bag to one side to let the acetone come in one corner.
  3. Dip your hand inside the bag and let your nails soak in the acetone for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. After waiting, try to pull the nails gently with a cuticle stick or orange stick.
  5. If they don’t come off, soak them for another 5 minutes. 

How To Remove Fake Nails Without Acetone?

For sensitive skin, it is highly recommended to use methods without using harsh products like acetone. The methods below will help you with that. 

Acetone-free Nail Polish Remover

How to remove acrylic nails at home with nail polish remover?

acetone to remove nails

How To Remove Fake Nails Acetone-free Nail Polish Remover?

  1. After clipping and filing, lift the edges using an orange stick or tweezers.
  2. Pour acetone-free nail polish remover in a bowl.
  3. Soak your nails for 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Once the nails are loosened, pull them out gently with tweezers.
  5. As normal acetone-free nail polish removers evaporate after some time, keep adding more from time to time.

Nail Filers

If you have time to spare, use this method to avoid chemicals.

alternative to acetone to remove nails

How To Remove Fake Nails With Nail Filers?

  1. After clipping the extensions to the shortest length possible, start filing them.
  2. File them with long strokes until you reach the nail bed. Make sure that you stop before filing off your real nail bed.
  3. If there is any of it remaining on your nails, pry open the edges with a cuticle scissor and clip them off (little by little). 
  4. Once the acrylic nails are off, take orange sticks to scrape off the acrylic glue.
  5. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  6. Do not forget to use a generous amount of cuticle oil as this procedure is pretty harsh on your nails. 

How To Remove Fake Nails With Hot Water?

Another easy, gentle, and safe method.

how long does it take for acetone to remove nails
  1. Pry the edges of fake nails with orange sticks or cuticle sticks.
  2. Pour hot water into a bowl making sure that it is warm and not boiling hot.
  3. To dissolve the nail glue, you need to soak your nails in warm water for at least 30 to 40 minutes. 
  4. Keep dipping at an angle through which the warm water can seep through the already-made inlet.
  5. Maintain a constant warm temperature. Keep pouring more warm water because you shouldn’t let the water get cold. 

Laminated Business Card

how long does it take acetone to remove nails

How To Remove Fake Nails with a Laminated Business Card?

  1. Grab the orange stick to lift the edges of the acrylic nails and make a small inlet.
  2. While applying gentle pressure in an upward motion, slide the laminated business or debit card into the inlet.
  3. To avoid cracking a layer of your real nail bed, do this one side at a time. 

Dental Floss

Yes, dental floss can help in removing acrylic nails besides oral hygiene. This piece of string can cause damage to your real nails, so unless your acrylic nails have already begun to come loose, you cannot use this method. You need a partner to do this nail removal method.

how long to soak nails in acetone to remove nails

How to Remove Fake Nails With Dental Floss?

  1. Grab the cuticle stick and gently lift the edges of your acrylic nails. If your nails have already begun to come loose, this step will be easier for you.
  2. Make the other person insert the string of dental floss under your acrylic nail. Then, move the dental floss down the nail in a sawing motion until the acrylic nail comes off. Do the process for all fingers.

Caution: It could cause discomfort and may be painful, so be prepared. 

Tips on How to Remove Fake Nails

These are the tips and precautions you need to follow while removing fake nails at home. 

  • You should not pull out your nails forcefully, even when it gets extremely hard to remove. If in case you do it, you might pull out your real nail bed causing unbearable pain or worse, an infection.
  • You have to be patient as this process usually takes a long time. Be seated somewhere comfortable because you are going to sit there for long!
  • If you are using acetone, cover your table or the surface you are using to do the process as acetone may stain or damage the surface.
  • While using the acetone method, make sure that there is no fire around you. Because it is highly flammable. 
  • As acetone is a chemical compound, the side effects of using it are wrinkling of the skin and dehydration. But, in any case, if you feel a burning sensation or severe redness, seek professional help immediately. 


  • After removing the fake nails, make sure to scrape off the debris of acrylic nails from your nail beds.
  • This entire process will leave your nails dry and unhealthy. So, use cuticle oil to restore your real nail bed and apply gentle moisturizer after the process. 
  • As acrylics can weaken your real nails, keep them hydrated with moisturizer or cuticle oil. Also, apply a nail strengthener every day for two weeks or so.
  • Trim the tips of your real nails with a nail clipper.
  • Apply a few layers of nourishing base coat to strengthen your nails.
  • Allow your real nails to grow in their natural shape before you get creative with the shape of your nails to prevent cracking. 
  • To protect your nails against acrylic nail damage next time, after removing them, wait for a week (the least) before wearing the next pair. 

Follow these tips to keep your nails in optimal health while enjoying shiny acrylic nails without worrying about damage. Now you can wear false nails without fretting over having to go to the salon for removing them. Glam up your fingers with acrylics!

  1. (n.d). Can you use non-acetone to remove acrylic nails?. [Online] Available at
  2. WebMD LLC. (2005 - 2020). 6 Ways to Care for Your Cuticles. [Online] Available at:
  3. HowStuffWorks. (2020). What's the difference between acetone and non-acetone nail polish remover?. [Online] Available at:
  4. WikiHow. (n.d). How to Remove Acrylic Nails. [Online] Available at:

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Manal is a lifestyle influencer who has spent years delving into the world of beauty, fashion, and wellness- a pro when it comes to anything woman.

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