How to take off fake nails: 8 simple steps

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Fake nails, or acrylic nails, are the gold standard of the glamorous manicure. They have been around forever, and you can get them done just about anywhere. You can get the most stand-out nails imaginable from professionally sculpted fake nails. But how to remove fake nails has always been the question.

In the past, you generally had to head back to the salon to remove fake nails. The adhesive used to apply fake nails is meant to be strong. To get them off safely without damaging your natural nails has always required another trip to a pro. Many of us have tried to find a DIY method on how to remove fake nails, but this has been a difficult process.

Like most things, you can find expensive products that promise to show you how to remove fake nails, but these things are most often just gimmicks.

Below we will offer a method will allow how to remove fake nails in as few as 8 simple steps. Using standard products and equipment you already own, we can show you how to safely and effectively remove fake nails.

Wrap Method

What you will need:

  • Simple nail clippers
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Coarse nail file
  • Acetone
  • Cotton balls
  • Aluminum foil

Step 1

Trim the acrylic down to your natural nail. Trimming the acrylic down first will make it much easier to remove the entire fake nail. This will simply reduce the amount of acrylic you need to dissolve in acetone and cut down on the amount of time and mess.

  • Make sure you wait until after you remove the acrylic to trim your natural nails. Do not cut your nails when trimming down the acrylic.

Step 2

File the acrylic nail to loosen it. Use a coarse nail file near the cuticle. This will effectively cut the fake nail from your natural nail. You want to expose the adhesive at the start of the fake nail. This step may be tedious, but it saves time in the long run.

  • Be careful not to file your natural nail. Remember, you are cutting the fake nail from your natural nail so you can expose it to the acetone. Be careful with this step.

Step 3

Use aluminum foil to make 10 rectangles to wrap your fingers. Simply cut out 10 rectangles to about 4 by 2 inches each. These should completely cover your fingertips. Keep in mind that you need to accommodate the cotton balls inside these foil wraps.

Step 4

Soak cotton balls in acetone. You want the cotton completely soaked with acetone but not dripping. You can tear the cotton balls into smaller pieces since you want the acetone to soak only the area you filed clear. Place these directly on your fingers, covering the filed area in order to loosen the fake nail.

  • Acetone works best, but if you are particularly sensitive to acetone you can use natural nail polish remover. You will need to allow more than the prescribed 20 minutes.
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Step 5

With the acetone-soaked cotton balls in place, wrap your fingers with the foil rectangles. Fold the ends over to make something of a seal. This does not need to look pretty. What matters is that you keep the cotton balls securely fixed to your fingertips in order to hold the acetone onto the acrylic nail.

Step 6

Leave wraps in place for 20 minutes. This is the boring part, but this is also where the work gets done. You need to keep your hands immobilized for a solid 20 minutes to allow the acetone to dissolve the adhesive.

  • You need to stay off the phone and your electronic devices. Do disturb the wraps during this part of the process.

Step 7

Scrape off the remaining fake nail. Use a cuticle pusher for this step. After removing the wraps, try gently pulling as much of the fake nail off as you can. Use a cuticle pusher to carefully remove the remaining fake nail. Make sure you scrape off the adhesive with the fake nail.

  • It is possible the nail will not come off easily. If this happens, you will need to repeat the above steps to completely dissolve the contact between the fake nail and your natural nail.

Step 8

Use a foam buffer to remove any last bits of fake nail and adhesive. Use gentle pressure thoroughly and go over your entire nail. Take your time with this step and make sure everything has been removed.

Note: Acetone can dry out your skin and cuticles. It is a good idea to moisturize your fingers and apply a good quality cuticle oil after you finish the entire process.

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How to take off fake nails

Wrapping things up

How to remove fake nails has always been the downside of getting an acrylic manicure. While fake nails are undoubtedly amazing, we have always been left with the tiresome–and expensive– tradeoff with having to go back to the salon to have them removed.

We know cutting acrylic nails accomplishes nothing and filing away at that acrylic polymer will only damage your natural nails. Simply applying nail polish remover is also ineffective.

The method above is by far the most effective. There are other methods that involve soaking your fake nails in acetone, but this has some serious drawbacks. Acetone dries out your skin badly, and directly soaking in it can do some painful damage.

Methods that require excessive filing and scraping can also be damaging to your nails, cuticles, and skin.

We also recommend giving your nails a rest after removing your fake nails. Allow at least two weeks before getting another manicure to let your natural nails hydrate and return to health. The adhesives used for fake nails and the removal process will take a toll over time.

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