Hello, let’s get one thing out of the way: When it comes to removing acrylic nails at home without damage, you just shouldn’t. You should play it safe, have them removed professionally at a salon, and not risk any nail breakage. But you already knew that, and you’ve already chosen to ignore the voice of very-good reason in your head in an effort to DIY the process yourself. And because I’m not a regular beauty editor, I’m a ~cool~ beauty editor, I’d rather have you do it with help from me and some reputable tutorials, rather than hack away at your nails alone.
“Your natural nails grow out regardless of how long your acrylics last, and you’ll start to see growth at your cuticle beds after two weeks,” Rita de Alencar Pinto, founder of Vanity Projects nail salon in New York City, has told Cosmopolitan. This means unless you’re getting your acrylics filled in—or you’re fine living with some grow out—you should probably expect to remove your acrylics within about four to six weeks. So to help you figure out how to do it without leaving your house, I’ve vetted the very best YouTube tutorials, broken down step by step, below.
How to Remove Acrylic Nails With an Acetone Soak Off
Ah, yes, the classic removal technique for the average DIY-er. As a ~hot~ tip (literally), try warming up your acetone before starting, which will help it work faster and more effectively on your nails. (Note: Acetone is incredibly flammable, so don’t microwave it—just run the bottle under warm water for a few minutes.)
- Carefully clip off your excess acrylics, cutting them as close as possible to your real nails.
- Using a nail buffer, rough up the surface of the polish until the shine is completely gone. Removing the top layer helps the polish to soften faster in the acetone.
- Pour 100 percent acetone into a tray or bowl and soak your nails in it for five minutes.
- With a metal cuticle pusher, gently push the polish off your nails, pushing from your cuticles downward.
- Re-dip your nails for five mins, then gently push again. Repeat until your acrylics have completely soaked off.
- Buff off the rest of the smaller pieces with your nail buffer.
- Massage cuticle oil into your nails to rehydrate them, then buff it into your nails with the soft side of a buffer. Finish with another layer of cuticle oil.
How to Remove Acrylic Nails With an Electric File/Nail Bit
If you’re both lazy and an acrylic addict, you should seriously consider picking up an electric nail file to make the process way easier and safer on your nail beds. Yes, technically this is the ~professional~ way to do it, and it’s definitely a skill to learn, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it at home (at your own risk and by watching a ton of tutorials).
- Gently and carefully sand down the acrylics with a sanding bit, taking off the top layer of your acrylics.
- Then soak a cotton swab with 100 percent acetone, wrap it around your nails, and cover it with aluminum foil, until all your digits are swaddled in foil.
- After 10 to 15 minutes of soaking, unwrap your fingers, then remove the excess acrylic with a cuticle pusher.
- Rinse your hands and finish with a cuticle oil.
How to Remove Acrylic Nails With Acetone and Plastic Bags
If an e-file sounds like way too much work, and you don’t exactly have a ton of spare nail trays hanging around your house, try the ultra-easy—albeit not exactly environmental friendly—way of removing your acrylics with a plastic bag.
- Cut off your acrylic nails (again, get as close to your real nails as possible without actually snipping them off).
- Pour 100 percent acetone into a large Ziploc baggie, filling it up just enough to be able to fully submerge your nails.
- Tilt the bag to the side so the acetone pools into one corner, then stick your hand in the bag, letting your nails soak in the acetone.
- Let them sit for 15 to 20 minutes (probably a good time to start a Netflix series), then gently scrape off the acrylics with a wooden cuticle stick.
- If your acrylics don’t push off easily, re-soak them for another five minutes, then try again.
- Buff off any remaining residue to finish.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.