How To Take Off Acrylic Nails Without Acetone

There is so much to love about acrylic nails. Bold and stylish, they take any outfit to the next level. Even better, they last much longer than regular nail polish.

Most people get their acrylic nails done in salons, but you can also do them yourself at home. Learning how to apply your own acrylic nails takes plenty of practice, though. It also requires special tools, like liquid monomer and powder polymer, as well as artificial nail tips. Using all these tools to achieve perfect acrylic nails can be challenging.

Just as doing acrylic nails requires involved techniques, so does taking off those nails. That is why many people return to the nail salon to have their acrylic nails removed, instead of doing it themselves. 

To take off clients’ acrylic nails, many salons use the chemical compound acetone. Unfortunately, acetone can actually harm our nails. It tends to leave our nails and cuticles feeling dehydrated and brittle. As such, regular exposure to acetone on the nails can be damaging. For this reason, many salons and individuals alike are turning away from acetone.

Whether you’re a nail technician, salon owner, or customer, the effects of acetone should be on your radar. However, if you’re concerned about the use of the chemical, don’t stress—there are plenty of ways to remove acrylics without it. 

Now, read on to learn about the best methods for taking off acrylic nails without acetone.

Method One: Use Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

Not all nail polish removers contain acetone. If you can get your hands on one that’s free of acetone, you can use it to remove your acrylic nails (or a client’s acrylics). 

For this method, you’ll just need a few other tools: a nail file, nail clippers, and a bowl. You’ll also need plenty of free time—around 40 minutes, at least.

No matter which technique you use, the first step in removing acrylic nails is usually to cut and file them. This is the case here. Cut your nails and file them to be as short as possible. Be careful not to damage your natural nails or hurt yourself by going too short.

Next, fill your bowl with an acetone-free nail polish remover. Soak your nails in the liquid for around 40 minutes. Around the 40-minute mark (or sooner), you should notice your acrylics coming off a bit. 

Now, use the tweezers to remove each nail. With any luck, the nail polish remover will have loosened the nails enough to make this step easy and painless.

Method Two: Try Cuticle Oil 

If you don’t have any acetone-free nail polish remover lying around, there’s another substance you can use: cuticle oil

This method is perfect for nails that have already started to come off a bit. All you need is a bottle of cuticle oil and a Q-tip or cotton ball.

First of all, soak the Q-tip or cotton ball in the cuticle oil. Then, hold it up against each nail for about five minutes. Focus on the areas of each nail that have already started to fall off the natural nail. This allows the oil to soak underneath the artificial tip.

This method should loosen your nails and make it easier to remove them. If you have an orangewood stick, use it to get underneath your nails and take them off. However, if this causes any pain or damage to your nails, stop right away. You may need to try another method.

Method Three: Soak Your Nails in Warm Water 

Like Method One above, this is a technique that requires ample time—again, about 40 minutes.

All you have to do is grab a bowl and fill it with warm water. It may help to add a few drops of hand soap or dish soap. 

Once again, trim your nails and buff them, cutting them as short as possible without causing any harm. Then, put your nails in the bowl and allow them to soak for up to 40 minutes. Try moving each nail every once in a while as they soak. This might loosen them a bit.

Once your nails feel loose enough to remove, use an orangewood stick to pry them off. If this method is effective, you shouldn’t feel any pain. 

Method Four: The Dental Floss Technique 

This is one of the more unconventional methods for removing acrylics. Using dental floss to take off your acrylic nails is effective, but it’s also risky. It may cause pain and damage by pulling off parts of your natural nails.

That being said, if you feel like you’d like to give it a shot, you’ll need dental floss, of course. If you have regular floss, you’ll probably need an assistant. However, if you are using the kind of dental flossers that come on a stick, you can probably do this method on your own.

Note: this technique will be less painful if your nails have already started to loosen naturally before you begin. If they haven’t begun to loosen, you could always try one of the methods above to kickstart the process.

Now, first things first, grab an orange stick or cuticle stick. Use the stick to start peeling off each nail around the edges—however, you don’t want to peel it off completely. 

Time for the dental floss to come into play. Grab your floss and press it against your natural nail at its base (near the cuticle). Pressing down, try to move it underneath the acrylic tip. 

Slowly move the floss back and forth underneath the nail. Move forward until you have removed the entire nail. Now, just repeat with each nail until all your acrylics are gone.

As we mentioned above, this method is a bit risky. Take it slow, and if it gets too painful, you should switch to a different technique.

Method Five: Use Business Card 

This approach to removing acrylics is quite similar to the dental floss method. Even if you don’t have floss lying around, you may have a business card tucked away in your wallet. In this case, grab that card and get ready to remove those nails.

Again, this technique is ideal for nails that are already a bit lose. With a cuticle stick, peel the edges of each nail upward, lifting each one off your natural nails. 

Once there is a gap between the natural nail and the acrylic nail, insert the business card into this gap. Like with the dental floss, simply slide the card upwards towards the end of the nail. 

Try to take it slow and remove the nail gradually. This will help you avoid damaging your natural nails.

Repeat the process with each nail until complete. That’s it—you’re done!

Caring for Your Nails After Removing Acrylics

All of the methods above are completely acetone-free. However, even though they avoid the harmful chemical, these techniques can still cause a bit of damage to your nails. That is why caring for your nails after acrylic removal is absolutely essential.

Whether you see visible damage or not, it won’t hurt to indulge in a little self-care for your nails after taking off your acrylics. Here is a shortlist of the best ways to ensure your nails are as healthy as can be:

  • Keep your nails short. If your nails look damaged and you want to give them a little time to heal, be sure to keep them trimmed. Don’t wear extensions or acrylics again until your healthy, natural nails are back to normal.

  • Keep your cuticles moisturized. Cuticle damage is no fun. To heal your hurting cuticles, apply cuticle oil regularly. In addition, moisturize your hands with hand lotion as much as possible.

  • Stay away from acrylics and fake nails if you suffer from serious nail problems. It can be tempting to cover up nail issues, like fungus, with an acrylic manicure. However, this can make the problem much worse. Avoid fake nails until your nails are totally healthy.

  • Take a break from acrylics every few months. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your nails don’t suffer permanent damage. Allowing your natural nails to grow and heal on their own will strengthen them in the long run.

  • Conclusion

    If you’ve made it to the end of this article, you are well-equipped to take off acrylic nails without acetone. Hopefully, the methods above will provide a safe, gentle way to remove your own acrylics or a customer’s acrylics.

    Each of these methods is effective, but everyone has their own preferences. If one technique doesn’t work for you, don’t give up yet. Try each one of these approaches until you find one that works for you and keeps your nails looking healthy and beautiful.

    Good luck!