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how to remove acrylic nails at home

By December 13, 2022No Comments

Once every few years I look at my (mum) hands and think oh my god they need a makeover. It is at this point I usually head to the nearest city nail-bar to have acrylics applied. Initially I love them. Clicky typing, glamorous finger pointing and high-shine long nails feel great. I appreciate having bath-proof nails (bath-proof because my nails are like tracing paper after bathing kids) for about 3-months. And that’s my max.

Every 2-3 weeks acrylic nails need infills, and this appointment costs anything from £25 – £40 and takes about an hour. I had some BAD nails done a few weeks ago which resulted in me having to go back. They were corrected free of charge and to my liking, thankfully. Normally, we are rushed through an appointment (gluing, drilling, “pop your hand in here, take that one out” and the many coats of nail paint bit) which usually ends in a polite nod whilst saying “yes! I love them!” when you have barely even glanced at them. Top tip: if you aren’t happy – send a photo of the offending nail/nails to the salon and ask to go back – they usually do not mind at all. Remember that you are the paying customer.

My last top-up was done in a local salon. They did a great job. I handed over my £35 and off I went, glitter and all. Yesterday, I looked at my nails and thought, ewwww. You know when they are growing out, have lost their shine and you actually realise you can’t pick anything up anymore (coin from the floor anyone?!). It was time.

I tried to get a salon appointment but nothing satisfied my need to have them taken off RIGHT NOW! It is nearly Christmas after all. So I reminded myself that I am a make-up artist, I am more than capable to remove them on my own – how hard can it be? And so last night, that is what I did.

Masterchef final on the TV, kids in bed. I was ready.


Bottle of acetone

Small plastic bowl

Cuticle pusher

Large nail clippers

Professional nail file (coarse grit 100)

Buffer block

Nail oil (or olive oil)


  1. Using the nail file, buff the nail colour from the nail using firm strokes. When all the colour is removed, go back and take off a little more of the surface from each nail (this thins the acrylic out so that you can clip the length).
  2. Clip nails to desired length.
  3. Pour acetone into plastic bowl, 1 inch deep.
  4. Submerge all nails on left hand into the acetone and leave for 10-mins. Remove hand, pat with dry towel.
  5. Using the cuticle pusher, gently push the soft acrylic away.
  6. Repeat step 4 and 5 for your right hand.
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for both left and right hands. Top tip: if you struggle using your non-dominant hand, ask someone to help you.
  8. Buff nails with the buffer to smooth and shine nails.
  9. Wash hands.
  10. Apply a good amount of nail oil and massage into each nail / cuticles well.

Important: if a thin layer of acrylic is left on the nail this is okay. I have this after removing mine and actually after a coat of regular polish, they look nice. Buffing the existing acrylic to blend into your own nail is a good thing to do. Do not pick off the remainder acrylic – this will damage your natural nails.

See you acrylics! (note the reminder to pick up HRT patches on my hand)

The best advice is to see a professional, but sometimes this isn’t possible, and if you are like me and need them taken off right this second – this will work. The removal method above mirrors the salon experience and it is free! Just be gentle. NO ripping, NO picking NO over-soaking. You can repeat the method above a few days later to get off the remaining acrylic.

Good Luck!

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Much love,

Lucy aka Geriatric Mum

Instagram @geriatric_mum

Work @she_coaches_confidence

Lucy Baker

Lucy Baker

Lincolnshire-based Lucy Baker is the founder of Geriatric Mum blog and mum to three children who are age 12, 10 and 3. Lucy had her last baby at 43-years-old - which is why this blog was born.

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