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How to Remove Fake Nails?

Everyone would love to have a flawless manicure all the time. But one has to constantly deal with weak nails that break off as soon as they grow past a certain length. In either case, fake nail manicures are a blessing for many women. Yet, despite the praiseworthy beauty benefits, fake nails are extremely damaging to our natural nails. In this article, we shall see various safe methods to remove fake nails at home.

Disadvantages of Fake Nails:

Fake nails come in a dizzying variety of designs, colors, and types. There’s something out there to suit every person’s taste. They can give you the appearance of well-maintained, strong nails. But it is important to understand the flip side. The most pressing disadvantages of fake nails are:

  • Continuous and prolonged use of fake nails renders damage to the natural nail underneath.
  • The probability of an injury is very high. If your fake nail breaks, then it painful and liable to bleed. In addition, it is expensive to replace a single broken nail.
  • There is a high chance of a nail infection. A damaged nail becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and other fungi.
  • It is a very expensive enhancement to maintain. Regular filings are required to groom and maintain the fake nails. If neglected, the chances are that your natural nail will grow out and displace the fake nail.

how to remove fake nails

Ways to Remove Fake Nails:

Getting fake nails removed in a nail parlor can become very expensive. If it is done incorrectly, your natural nails can be damaged permanently. One of the biggest problems of getting someone else to remove your fake nails is they may over-file it. This occurs when you file the fake nail deep down till it penetrates your natural nail. Opposite to these concerns, perhaps you would simply prefer to save the money you would otherwise spend in the nail salon. Fortunately, there are safe and easy methods you can use to remove fake nails at home. These methods can be roughly divided into 2 categories – “with acetone” and “without acetone”. Read on to find the technique that is most suitable for you.

Method I – Remove Fake Nails with Acetone

1.) Acetone Wrap for Fake Nail Removal

This is probably the best way to remove fake nails, especially gel nails. Rather than using nail polish remover, this method works best with pure acetone. Wrapping the nails ensures that the acetone is concentrated to work on the area of the fake nail. After this method, the fake nail should easily slide off, especially the gel nails.

You Will Need:

  • Pure acetone
  • Cotton Balls
  • Aluminum foil
  • 2 bowls – 1 small, 1 big
  • Unscented petroleum jelly
  • Nail file
  • Nail buffer
  • Orange stick
  • Nail strengthener

Directions for Use:

  • Step 1 – Fill the bigger bowl with warm water. Now fill the smaller bowl halfway up with the acetone and place in the bigger bowl. This allows the acetone to warm up, increasing its potency.
  • Step 2 – While the acetone warms up, apply a thick layer of the petroleum jelly to the cuticles and the skin surrounding the nail. Do not apply on the nail. Use the cuticle stick for a more precise application.
  • Step 3 – Dip a cotton ball into the warm acetone and let it soak. Place this directly over the fake nail. Secure in place by tightly wrapping a strip of tin foil around the nail. Repeat for each nail and leave on for 30 minutes.
  • Step 4 – Use the orange stick to gently push the fake nail off the natural nail. If it is still stuck, then wrap it up again with a freshly soaked cotton ball. Try again after 20 minutes.
  • Step 5 – File away any remaining glue on your nail, and shape it in the way you desire. Use a nail buffer to buff the nails till they are smooth and shiny.
  • Step 6 – Apply a coat or two of the nail strengthener. Once dry, moisturize your skin with a vitamin-E enriched hand cream.

2.) Remove Fake Nails with Acetone Bath

Another way to use acetone to remove fake nails is to soak them in an acetone bath. But it may be too harsh to submerge your fingers in a pure acetone bath. So, you can do this using a nail polish remover that contains acetone.

You Will Need:

  • Acetone-based nail polish remover.
  • Nail clipper
  • Small ceramic bowl or shallow glass jar.
  • Nail file
  • Cuticle stick
  • Unscented petroleum jelly.
  • Vitamin-E enriched nail strengthener.

Directions for Use:

  • Step 1 – First, cut the fake nail as short as you can without hitting the nail bed. Then, use the nail file to file down the sharp corners and the top layer of the fake nail.
  • Step 2 – Use the cuticle stick to apply  a layer of unscented petroleum jelly on the cuticles and the surrounding skin. This forms a buffer between the sensitive skin and the harsh acetone.
  • Step 3 – Fill the bowl halfway with the acetone-based nail polish remover. If you want, you can warm the remover to increase the potency of the acetone. Do this by placing the small bowl in a bigger bowl and filling it with warm water.
  • Step 4 – Submerge the fake nail entirely into the acetone bath. Let it soak for 20-25 minutes. During this time, the acetone will work to weaken the hold of the nail glue.
  • Step 5 – Now, use the cuticle stick to gently lift the fake nail off your natural nail. If the fake nail is still stuck, then soak the nails for 10 minutes longer.
  • Step 6 – Use a nail buffer to buff away the remaining glue, till the nails are smooth and shiny. Apply 1-2 coats of the nail strengthener, and moisturize your cuticles and hands with a good nail cream.

Method II – Remove Fake Nails without Acetone

1.) Hot Water to Remove Fake Nails

Some people would prefer to remove fake nails without the use of acetone. This chemical can be damaging to nails that are already brittle and dry. In addition, it may not react well with sensitive skin. This method is simple and does not have any adverse side-effects.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of water
  • A bowl to soak
  • Orange stick
  • Nail File
  • Nail Buffer
  • Vitamin-E enriched nail and hand cream.
  • Nail strengthener

Directions for use:

  • Step 1 – First, prepare the water to remove the fake nails. Place the 2 cups of water on heat till it starts to boil. Now, turn off the heat. Make sure the water is not too hot to burn your skin. But it should be hot enough to get the fake nails off.
  • Step 2 – Dip your fingers in the hot water to soak the fake nails. Make sure the fake nails are submerged entirely in the hot water. Leave them in to soak for 30-40 minutes. Once you see the fake nails swell a little, it should be ready to take off.
  • Step 3 – Use the orange stick to gently pry off the fake nails. Do this with the utmost care to prevent pulling the fake nails off too fast. That is likely to tear the natural nail, rendering a lot of damage. If you feel resistance, then soak in more hot water for 10-15 more minutes. Pry the nails off, starting from beneath the front tip. Now scratch the nails off gently.
  • Step 4 – With the nail file, file away any extra glue stuck to the natural nail. In addition, use the nail file to give your natural nail the desired shape.
  • Step 5 – With a nail buffer, buff the natural nails till they are smooth and shiny. Moisturize your nails with a vitamin-E enriched nail oil. After this dries, apply 2 coats of a vitamin-E enriched nail strengthener.

2.) Take Off Fake Nails with Nail File

Using acetone to remove fake nails seems like a hassle-free, easy way. But it can be quite damaging to the nails, especially if this is not your first time using fake nails. Fortunately, there are other ways to remove fake nails. Filing the nails is one way to do this.

You will need: 

  • Nail clipper
  • 1 coarse grit file
  • 1 fine grit file
  • Cuticle scissor
  • Orange stick


  • Step 1 – First, trim away any of the excess unwanted corners of the fake nail. Use a nail clipper to do this. Make sure to cut the nail as short as possible. Shorter nails are easier to take off. But pay attention not to cut into that nail bed. This will cause bleeding and increase the risk of infection.
  • Step 2 – Start filing the nails with the coarser grit file. Carefully file away the top layers of the fake nail. Check frequently to make sure you do not file down the natural nail. Stop when you note the visibility of the natural nail ridges and a reduction in dust from the filed nails.
  • Step 3 – Use the finer grit file to file slowly at the fake nail to make is as thin as possible. Once this is done, use the orange stick to lift up the sharp edges of the fake nail. Position the cuticle scissor under the lifted edges of the fake nail and cut off the sharp edges. Repeat this step till the whole nail has been removed.
  • Step 4 – Use the nail buffer to buff away the remaining glue. Do this till the nail is smooth and shiny. Now, apply 2 coats of a vitamin-E enriched nail strengthener. This is to ensure that the natural nails are nourished and strong.
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