How Do Salons Remove Acrylic Nails?

How Do Salons Remove Acrylic Nails?

Are you stuck with acrylic nails, wondering how to remove them without damaging your natural nails?

We’ve all been there. Fortunately, it’s a smooth process, provided you have the right tools and materials.

Below, we explain everything you need to know to remove acrylic nails professionally, like a salon nail tech.

How Do Salons Remove Acrylic Nails?

Nail salons remove acrylic nails using electric files (e-files) or drills. It’s a quick process that takes under 20 minutes (to remove the whole set). More importantly, it’s painless if your natural nails are healthy. Alternatively, the salon may use acetone for EMA acrylics. This, too, is a quick, pain-free process.

Do you have to Get Acrylic Nails Professionally Removed?

No, it’s not mandatory to get your acrylic nails removed by a nail technician at a nail salon. However, it’s in your best interests.

First, you may lack the tools and materials to remove artificial nails at home. This increases the risk of injuries and nail damage.

In addition, many DIYers lack the technique to remove acrylics without traumatizing the nail and finger.

Above all, you must know what to ask for at a nail salon.

Removing acrylics at a nail salon is cheaper than most people imagine. Many nail salons charge $10-$20 to remove a whole set of acrylics.

How Do Salons Remove Acrylic Nails

Can Nail Technicians Take Off Acrylic Nails? 

Yes, nail technicians remove acrylic nails – it’s part of their job description.

However, they do many other things, including installing artificial nails and advising on nail health and products.

So, you now have the answer if you’ve always wondered whether you can visit the salon for an acrylic removal appointment. It’s the best place to remove false nails.

But be warned that artificial nail removal isn’t free. Many salons charge a small fee, depending on the type and condition of the nails.

What do Nail Salons Use To Remove Acrylic Nails Fast? 

Nail salons use acetone, nail files, and other tools to remove acrylic nails. It depends on the type of acetone and the condition of the nails.

Acetone is the simplest and most cost-effective acrylic nail removal solution. It soaks off the nails, making it easy to scrap the acrylic material with a cuticle stick or a similar tool. Also, acetone does minimal damage to the nails.

Unfortunately, acetone nail polish remover isn’t completely safe for nails. The biggest concern is its dehydrating properties.

Pure acetone dries the cuticles and surrounding skin, potentially causing cracking. That’s why your nail hurts after artificial nail removal.

So, how long should you soak acrylic nails in acetone?

Also, acetone doesn’t work for all nail types. For instance, you must find alternative solutions to remove Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) acrylic nails.

Nail salons fall back on files for acetone-incompatible false nails. Electric files, also known as nail drills, are the most common as they’re faster and more convenient.

However, a regular nail file offers more control and is more suitable for precision projects.

Must You Use Acetone to Remove an Acrylic Nail?

No, acetone isn’t the only way to remove acrylic nails. Though it’s the least invasive method, you can opt for alternatives like electric and regular nail files.

Similarly, you can remove fake nails by soaking them in acetone-free nail polish remover.

It takes slightly longer. But it’s a common way to avoid acetone side effects.

How Long does it Take to Remove Acrylic Nails in a Salon?

Removing acrylic nails at a nail salon takes at most 20 minutes. It mainly depends on the condition of the nails.

Removing artificial nails from healthy natural nails is a quick process that takes as little as ten minutes.

However, damaged or weak nails require more care, prolonging the acrylic removal process.

Does Removing Acrylic Nails Hurt?

Unfortunately, it usually hurts. Not all acrylic nail removal procedures hurt.

However, you’ll likely experience soreness, especially during filing. The worst pain often results from physical damage.

For instance, filing may wound the cuticles, causing sharp but short-lived pain. Similarly, nail bed irritation causes throbbing pain.

Recommended read: Acrylic alternatives

Does the Nail Salon Charge to Take Off Acrylics?

Yes, most nail salons charge a small fee to remove fake nails, including acrylic and hard gel nails.

However, a few only charge a cent if your appointment includes installing a new set of artificial nails.

So it’s best to ask beforehand. Also, ask about the exact cost. It’s rarely more than the installation cost.

How Much Does it Cost to Have Acrylic Nails Removed?

Many nail salons charge $7 to $28 to remove acrylic nails. It depends on the type of salon, the type of acrylics, and your location. For instance, a celebrity nail artist may charge more, often up to $100.

Similarly, filing away MMA acrylics is more challenging and costs slightly more.

Finally, acrylic nail removal cost in Europe are different from the US, and Florida prices differ from New York prices.

Can you Remove Acrylic Nails at Home? 

Yes. You can remove acrylic nails at home using acetone, nail files, or DIY tools and materials, like dental floss and warm water. It’s intimidating at first.

However, once you complete the learning curve, it’s a quick and simple process. The trick is patience. Take your time. Otherwise, you may damage the real nails.

How Acrylics is Removed at a Salon

Different nail salons use different methods to remove acrylics. However, the basic steps are similar. The nail tech will proceed as follows;

  1. Remove the top layer of the artificial nails using an electric nail file or drill. 
  2. Prepare an acetone solution. Most products are usable out of the box and don’t require thinning or mixing with other products.
  3. Cover the fingertips with cotton pads, wrap aluminum foils over the cotton balls, and immerse your fingers in the bowl of acetone. 
  4. Let the acetone-soaked cotton balls sit over your nails for around 15 minutes. Then gently remove them.
  5. Gently scrape off the shriveled acrylic or gel material using a cuticle pusher.

Read also: Can you put acrylic over a broken natural nail?

How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home with Acetone 

The process is almost similar if you prefer to remove your acrylic nails at home. Begin by gathering the tools and materials. Then follow the step-step-guide below.


  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Nail clippers 
  • A nail file
  • A few cotton balls
  • A small bowl
  • Nail buffer
  • Orangewood stick or cuticle pusher
  • Aluminum foil or nail polish remover clips

Removing Acrylic Nails with Acetone: Step-by-Step Guide

The following is a step-by-step guide to removing acrylic nails (and other artificial nails) at home using 100% acetone.

  1. Cut down the acrylics: Use a sharp nail clipper to trim the acrylic nails as much as possible. This is necessary for all acrylic nails, whether short nails or extensions. If you’re working on extensions, leave a maximum of two centimeters of the nail length beyond the nail bed. Here’s how to cut fake acrylic nails.
  2. File away the top coat (optional): Regular acrylic nails don’t require filing during removal. However, consider filing the surface with a 100-grit nail file if you have a top coat. While acetone removes the top coat, it takes a long time, often up to an hour. Filing away most of the material shortens the removal process.
  3. Wrap your hands in acetone-soaked cotton balls: We recommend 100% acetone, though 70% or higher products are sufficient. Soak a cotton ball in the acetone and place it over the fake nail, ensuring it covers every part of the nail. Then repeat for the rest of the nails. Alternatively, soak your fingers directly in acetone for 20-30 minutes. However, this method is highly invasive.
  4. Wrap your fingers to set the cotton balls in place: There are two ways to approach this step. The first option is to wrap them with aluminum foil. It’s the cheaper, more convenient option. Alternatively, use nail polish remover clips. They hold the cotton balls firmly, eliminating the need for metal foil.
  5. Apply pressure or gentle heat: There are a few ways to accelerate the soak-off process. The first option is to squeeze the cotton balls until you see acetone dripping from the nails. Alternatively, apply a warm towel over the metal foil for several minutes. 
  6. “Scrape” the acrylics off your nails: Once the acrylics disintegrate and begin coming off, help them off the nail by pushing them away using a cuticle pusher or an orange stick. Start from the cuticle area and work up to the free edge. Then repeat for the remaining nails. Don’t apply too much pressure, as you may damage the nail bed.
  7. Finish up: After removing all the acrylics, shape, file, and buff your nails to remove the residue. Then wash your hands with warm water, dry them with a towel, and hydrate the nails with cuticle oil. After that, focus on strengthening and healing the nails.

Interesting read: Can I get acrylics with short nails?

How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home without Acetone 

How Do Salons Remove Acrylic Nails

The good news is that you don’t need to visit the nail salon whenever you need to remove acrylic nails.

Instead, you can do it at home and save costs with the proper tools and techniques. The following are four ways to remove acrylic nails without acetone;

Option 1: Removing Acrylics with Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

Acetone-free nail polish removers are alcohol-based solutions that dissolve false nail glues without causing much damage to the underlying skin.

Apply liberal amounts of the nail polish remover onto dry acrylic nails and wait for the glue to dissolve.

The products take up to 30 minutes or longer to work. But they are highly effective.

Once the glue dissolves, peel away the fake nails and restore your fingernails.

Interesting read: How to bowl with long nails.

Option 2: Removing Acrylics with Cuticle Oil

You’re probably surprised. But don’t be. Cuticle oil contains jojoba oil and almond that soften the glue on false nails, making it easy to remove the acrylics.

Moreover, it’s gentler than acetone, which explains why it’s used in healthy nail maintenance.

Apply a few drops of cuticle oil at the base of each false nail and wait at least 10 minutes for it to soak.

Then peel off the fake nails. If the nails don’t come off, apply a few more drops of cuticle oil.

Read more: Why do my acrylic nails keep popping off?

Option 3: Removing Acrylics with Warm, Soapy Water

Warm, soapy water takes almost as long as cuticle oils to remove acrylic nails.

However, it’s among the least-invasive methods. Fill a bowl or sink with hot water and add gentle soap. Then let the nails soak in the solution for 10 minutes.

Can you see signs of the acrylics coming off? If not, soak them for another ten minutes. It takes 20-30 minutes to see positive signs.

Use a cotton swab or pad to scrape the fake nails. You can also use tweezers for stubborn areas.

Alternatively, use cuticle pushers. Then wash the nails with clean water, dry, trim, and shape them, and apply cuticle oil.

Method 4: Removing Acrylic Nails by Filing

The fastest but most invasive method to remove false nails is by filing away the artificial layer with a nail file.

Unfortunately, this method is not great because it’s easy to damage the nail beds and plates.

Worse still, irritating the natural nail bed can interfere with natural nail growth or cause fungal infections.

So, if you must do it at home, use a regular nail file instead of an e-file. It gives you more control.

Also, file away the artificial nails gently without damaging the natural nails. You should be done in under ten minutes.

Method 5: Removing acrylics using vinegar

To take off acrylic nails with vinegar, a readily available household item, you can follow these steps.

Start by soaking your acrylics in a solution of vinegar for approximately 20-30 minutes. Once soaked, use a cuticle pusher or a wooden stick to scrape off the softened acrylics.

This method may take longer and may not be as effective as using acetone. Exercise caution to ensure safety and minimize the risk of damage.

Can you Pull Off Acrylic Nails?

No. Never pull off acrylic nails with your bare hands or any other tool. Although tempting, pulling acrylics can damage healthy nail plates and natural nail beds.

Or worse, you may rip off the entire healthy nail, causing unnecessary pain and suffering.

Read also: Square cute short acrylic nails.


Nail salons mainly soak off acrylics with acetone, although most combine acetone with nail filing to hasten the process. However, you can remove acrylics at home with or without acetone.

For instance, hot water, acetone-free nail polish remover, and cuticle oil remove acrylics without invading the natural nails.


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