Make-over May! Rehab Your Nails: How to Remove Acrylics

12:37 PM

May has finally arrived and that means it's time for my May Make-over Rehab Your Nails series!  Each week there will be one post about getting your nails healthy and in shape!  At the end of the month there will be a giveaway of products to help you get your nails looking their best! :)  If the series does well, and it seems to be something you guys are interested in learning more about, I'll continue it throughout the year but at a slower rate!  As always, there will be a new sidebar for you to click to easily access these posts and there will be a tab at the top of my blog for easy access as well (look for it when the giveaway goes up!)  So without further's Part One of the series!!

How to Properly Remove Acrylic Nails:

It's prom time here (and prime wedding time!) and I'm noticing a lot of people with acrylic nails.  Many of those only have acrylics this time of year and therefore are eager to remove them when the event is over.  But removing acrylic nails improperly can actually do severe damage to your nails!  And most people, even those who are trying to remove them properly, are still causing damage to their nails that they don't need to.  So here's how to do it properly and cause your nails the LEAST amount of damage possible!*

*Side note:  Improper application of acrylics as well as cheap product can also cause damage to your natural nail.  Whenever possible, try to go to a nice salon with a good reputation for doing nail enhancements.  Yes, you will pay more for your nails but you will also save yourself a lot of pain and your nails will last longer and look much nicer!

These are the basic supplies you need to remove your acrylics:
1. 100% Pure Acetone: resist the urge to get the kind with additives.  It just slows down the process and it won't damage your nails any more or less.
2. A small bowl: I'm using a miso soup bowl. This is optional but will speed up the process.
3. A glass cup: I'm using a shot glass. A dappen dish will also work. It should fit inside the small bowl comfortably and also accommodate at least two fingers.  If you're not using a bowl then choose a glass dish/bowl which will comfortably accommodate your fingers.
4. Cotton balls, pledgets, or cotton pads: your choice. Whichever you normally use to remove your polish is fine.
5. Buffers: This is a 320/400 and a 180.  You can choose any grit above 180 but I recommend at least having a 220/400 so that you can get your nails as smooth as possible after removal.
6, Orange wood Stick: For removing the acrylic

Other optional supplies include:

1. A nail file: This is a 180/400 OPI file. It's good for shaping nails after removal
2. Nail Brush: These are pretty cheap at nail supply stores. It's good for getting the acrylic dust off your nails.
3. Cuticle Oil: To treat your cuticles after removal.  I'm using OPI Avoplex
4. Nail Strengthener: This is Nail Envy.  Since nails are often thin after removal this is great for helping them bounce back.
5. Lotion: To treat your skin after removal.  This is because of the drying effect of the acetone.  Avoid AHA lotions for this purpose and choose one with intensive moisturizers. This is Hempz lotion.

Tips:  Try to wait until you're two weeks out of an acrylic application before removal.  The more of your undamaged natural nail that you have to work with, the better your nails will fare.  To set up, fill your small bowl 2/3 full with hot water (NOT BOILING!!!).  Then fill the glass dish 2/3 full with acetone and sit it inside the bowl.  This will heat the acetone and speed up the removal process.  DO NOT MICROWAVE ACETONE OR PUT IT ON A STOVE.   This method is the ONLY safe way to heat acetone.  Lightly buff the surface of your nail before submerging it into the acetone.

Step One:  Submerge nail(s) for 10 minutes in warm acetone.

 This is what your nail(s) will look like after 10 minutes in the acetone solution.  Now you can use your orange wood stick to GENTLY push the acrylic off your nails.  Lay it on the top of the first layer of acrylic (DO NOT attempt to push from the base of the acrylic where it meets the nail plate. You want to remove the top layers before the base layers) and gently, at an angle, push the acrylic towards the top of the nail.

The acrylic should 'flake' off with little pressure.  If it gets difficult to push it then you need to soak the nails again.  I soak in five minute intervals after the initial ten.  Before submerging back into the acetone, use an acetone soaked cotton ball or pledget to swipe the loose acrylic off your nail.

This is what the nail will look like after you've pushed some acrylic off.  You'll want to remove those little loose flakes of acrylic before re-soaking the nail so you don't contaminate your acetone.

Continue this process until all or most of the acrylic is removed. You may notice if your nails are particularly thin that pushing, even gently, on your nail plate is painful after awhile.  If that happens you can use your buffer to LIGHTLY buff the remaining acrylic off your nail.  Just be sure to use gentle pressure and keep the buffer parallel to your nail plate.

On the left you'll see my nail with the acrylic removed and just gently buffed with the 320 side of my buffer.  On the right is my nail after buffing a second time LIGHTLY with my 400 buffer and then brushed with the nail brush.  At this point, for all intents and purposes, you're finished.  That said, you might want to give your nails a little boost to keep them healthy while the damaged parts are growing out.  Do that by applying your cuticle oil over the ENTIRE nail and the cuticle and leaving it for at least five minutes.  You can also wrap them in hot towels to assist them in soaking up the oil.  Then apply lotion to your hands.  Gently wipe the nail plate with alcohol or acetone to cleanse it and then apply your nail strengthener according to directions.  I found that using the Nail Envy not only kept my nails stronger, but it also soothed them. They HURT a lot when my acrylic was first off but the Nail Envy really helped ease the pain.  If your nails are VERY thin it might be best to cut them to below the top of your fingers as well to prevent damage.

Tada! Finished, acrylic-free nails!  The arrows point to the thin areas of my nails where they were prepped for the acrylics.  I also had tips on my nails at some point so you'll notice closer to the free edges that there are some white-ish areas where the tips left damage and residue on my nails.  My thumb had the worst damage and I didn't cut it down like an idiot, but it was so thin that several days after this it lightly caught my hair and bent upwards to the point where my nail looked like a saucer!  I had to cut it down.  My middle finger also broke back recently.  The more they grow right now the weaker they get because when that pink line I'm showing you reaches the free edge it's the thinnest part of the nail.  And it WILL suck.  Keeping them cut back and covered with strengthener DOES help.  I coated my right hand with the Nail Envy and left it polish free reapplying the Nail Envy according to the instructions. This hand was polished with the strengthener being used regularly as a base coat.  I have no breaks on my other hand.  A basic manicure will help a lot too! So watch for that post to come!! 

Thanks for following along!! Is this how you remove your acrylic nails?

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  1. makes me wonder why anyone gets acrylics in the first place? What a hassle! But NOW I can help others- this tutorial is terrific, keep 'em coming- reblogged!

  2. this is really helpful, though I never get acrylics. I hate all of the damage they cause! But this is what I'm about to start school for, so I'll need to know this lol

    I think this is a really great idea, because really I hope I'm already doing all that I can to help my nails, but I'm always up for educating myself on better ways to do things, so thanks!

  3. this series is going to be awesome and so popular !!!

  4. this was super informative and interesting, I can't wait to read more posts of this series! :)

  5. i never thought to warm the acetone! great post :D

  6. looking forward to the series :)

  7. Wow, great post for those with acrylics... But after seeing this, I think I'll never get one... :(

  8. Aside from the heating, this is how I've removed my acrylics though I try to wait 4 weeks before removing them. I'll have to try the heating sometime! Thanks for making this tutorial.

  9. Great information. Nice post. This blog is so helpful for the user those want to know about the nail treatment. Thanks to sharing the details about acrylic nails.

    Acrylic Nails

  10. As a licenced nail tech, I was taught this method in school. This is the only safe way to remove acrylics. Don't ever let anyone pretty or file them off. Great resource!!

  11. How long does it take for a healthy nail to grow Back

    1. It really depends on any damage that was done to your nail by the tech who applied the acrylics, how you treat them after removal, your lifestyle, and the growth rate of your nails. In general I advise a month or two but it can definitely take longer!

  12. How long does it take for the heathy nail to grow Back nice and strong


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