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How to Remove Fake Nails – Remove Acrylic and Press on Nails

how to remove fake nailsDon’t we all love making our nails look pretty with false or press on nails? It’s the most convenient way of having that perfect manicure look without having to visit the nail salon or spending copious amounts of money on having them done. But the question of how to remove fake nails always comes up!

If not done correctly we face the possibility of ruining our natural nails when we attempt to remove press on nails or fake nails, this in turn creates damage that will take time and money to repair. I know many of us (including myself) are guilty for forcibly removing fake nails without soaking them, please do not do this!

That’s why I’ve created this guide on how to properly and safely remove fake nails and press on nails, if you follow this guide your natural nails will remain as healthy as they can be!

How to Remove Fake Nails at Home

What you will need to remove acrylic nails:

  • Acetone: I personally love and regularly use Onyx Professional, it’s super cheap and has worked perfectly for me without damaging my already sensitive skin.
  • Nail Files: a coarse file for filing down the fake nail, and a three way buffer for your natural nail once the fake nails have been removed. I love the set from Cameron Frank Products and you can buy them here.
  • Cuticle oil
  • Cuticle sticks
  • Vaseline/moisturizer: if you have particularly sensitive skin.
  • A bowl to put the acetone in: make sure it is a material like ceramic and don’t make the mistake I did when I first used acetone by using a plastic bowl, it will melt straight through! I love this one from Foxnovo.
  • Nail strengthener: to apply after you’ve finished to maintain your healthy nail. I use the OPI one , it’s a little more expensive but so worth it to keep your nails strong.


Now we have everything we need, we can begin to remove our fake nails.

Step one

Pour some acetone into your bowl, enough to completely cover your nails.

Step two

This step isn’t actually necessary but I definitely recommend it, sensitive skin or not. Put some vaseline or moisturizer around your nail to help protect your skin or any open wounds from the acetone.

Step three

Put your fingertips into the acetone, making sure that the nails are completely covered with acetone. Keep your fingers there for at least 15-20 minutes. It may be a good idea to grab a magazine or put the TV on whilst you’re waiting!

Step four

By now the fake nails should have lifted, and you will be able to either easily lift them off, or file down any remainders left on your nail. If you find that the fake nails are still on firmly you can repeat step three for an extra 10 minutes or so.

Step five

Once the fake nail has been completely removed, buff up your nails with your three way buffer until your natural nails are smooth and shiny.

Step six

Use your cuticle sticks to gently push back your cuticles, this will allow your nail to grow better, and I think it’s good practise to do every now and then regardless of if you use fake nails.

Step seven

Apply your nail strengthener. Your nails will feel soft after being under the fake nail and the soaking in the acetone, applying the strengthener will give your nails the best chance of staying strong and healthy.

That’s it, it really is not hard to remove fake nails at home safely and without nail damage.

how to remove fake nails at home

How to Remove Fake Nails – Sensitive Skin Version

If you have extra sensitive skin and really can’t soak your nails in acetone for that long then I also have a super simple solution to that too. For this method all you will need extra is some foil and some small cotton wool balls.

Step one

Pour some acetone into a bowl and pop your cotton wool balls in, to soak for a short time.

Step two

Place the soaked cotton wool ball on your nail, ideally not touching any of the surrounding skin.

Step three

Wrap each nail with the cotton wool ball on with foil, it’s best to do one hand at a time otherwise it can get very fiddly!

Step four

Wait around 15-20 minutes, as in the above guide

Step five

Once the fake nail has been completely removed, buff up your nails with your three way buffer until your natural nails are smooth and shiny.

Step six

Use your cuticle sticks to gently push back your cuticles, this will allow your nail to grow better, and I think it’s good practise to do every now and then regardless of if you use fake nails.

Step seven

Apply your nail strengthener. Your nails will feel soft after being under the fake nail and the soaking in the acetone, applying the strengthener will give your nails the best chance of staying strong and healthy.

That is literally it, it’s that simple to remove fake nails and keep your natural nails strong and healthy even after applying fake nails!

How to Remove Press on Nails

remove press on nails

The procedure to remove press on nails isn’t as much work as fake nails, but you still need to be careful as to not damage your natural nail. Here are some easy ways you can remove press on nails.

  1. Soak your hands in warm soapy water for around 10 minutes. Press on nails don’t use a glue, they have an adhesive sticker that bond with your nail, and by soaking your hands the warm water should be able to get behind the nail enough to loosen the adhesive. Test with a cuticle stick whether the nail is loose enough, and the press on nail should easily lift off your fingernail. Then simply buffer and apply nail strengthener, same as with fake nail removal.
  2. Another way to remove press on nails (and if the above method isn’t working for you) is to soak your fingertips in nail varnish remover. Using the same principle as above, apart from don’t leave your fingers so long soaking, as nail varnish remover does contain acetone and won’t need as long to work. You should start to feel the nails loosening, and then be able to gently peel the nail off your nail bed. Buffer and strengthen.

And there you go, that is how to remove press on nails – easy isn’t it!

The Final Word

If you follow these simple steps your nails will remain in great condition and remember, please, please, please don’t bite or try and pull a fake nail off without any kind of soaking, this can cause painful damage to your natural nail!

Other Info

If you are looking for a way to remove gel nails, then see our guide here. Please note that this is quite different to removing fake nails, so take the time and do it correctly!

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About Kirsty Jennings

Blogger and writer of mental + physical health, weight loss, beauty and blogging tips.

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