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How to quickly and safely remove nails at home

Nail tech making adjustments to a nail

Cleaning up after a party is always the worst bit, and it’s no different when it comes to your nails. Removing the remnants of your once new and sparkling nails can seem like a chore, but correct and safe removal of any leftover materials on the nails is vital in maintaining overall nail health. 

So, knowing how to remove nail extensions at home is vital for superstar nails. Perhaps you could choose to use this as a chance to wipe the slate clean and to take some time to really focus on and pamper your nails, ready for their next dazzling adventure. Here at New Zealand Beauty School, we offer an extensive range of nail courses, empowering you to gain essential skills and knowledge in proper nail maintenance and beauty.

Take a look at our website for more information about our courses in Nail Tech and Manicure and Pedicure.

In the meantime, let’s get down to business and dive into the 101 of expert nail care.

Knowing your nails

The 21st Century has seen the rise of modern nail art, good old fashioned polish being swapped out for more sturdy solutions such as gels and acrylics. While these look beautiful and tend to last longer than regular polish, they can prove difficult to remove without the assistance of a nail technician and often cause many to find themselves manically googling “how to remove nails at home without tools”. 

In this blog, we will take you through how to remove fake nails in an easy to follow step-by-step guide with only a few simple pieces of equipment.

How to remove fake nails

What you will need:

  • a bowl
  • cotton balls
  • foil
  • acetone
  • nail clippers
  • an orangewood stick
  • a nail file
  • a nail buffer

Step 1: cut the acrylics down with sharp nail clippers, until there is about 2cm left above the nail bed

Step 2: use nail polish remover or acetone to get rid of any regular polish, or if the polish is gel, use a nail file to remove as much of the gel coat and acrylic as you can, being careful to leave a thin acrylics layer to prevent your real nail from damage

Step 3: soak a cotton ball in acetone and place it over your nail, then wrap a piece of foil around your finger, securing the cotton ball in place – repeat for each nail, leaving the foil on for 10 minutes

Step 4: the acrylic should have turned to a sort of gooey texture – take your orangewood stick and gently push the acrylic remnants off your nail; it should come away easily (if it doesn’t, repeat the soaking process)

Step 5: gently buff your nails to smooth the surface and get rid of any residue

Step 6: see our suggested nail aftercare tips below!

With any beauty treatment, there is always a risk of an allergic reaction, as you come into contact with chemicals you may not have been around before. If you begin to experience any discomfort or anything pertaining to a possible allergic reaction, seek medical help immediately.


Unfortunately, acetone is the only way to effectively remove all remnants of false nails, but with the right aftercare, you can avoid nail damage and dryness.

Aftercare for your nails, once any materials have been removed, is a vital step in your nail removal routine. Acetone is quite the culprit when it comes to dehydration, and can leave your nails dry, brittle and weakened if the correct care is not taken after removal.

Your natural nails will need some TLC and rest time before your next trip to the salon, so here are some of our best tips to keep your nails feeling healthy while you wait:

  • nail and cuticle oil – finding a decent quality oil with essential vitamins will help nourish your nails and keep them strong
  • hand cream – hand creams are imbued with moisturising ingredients, so next time you moisturise your hands, focus on rubbing the cream into your nails and cuticles
  • filing – keeping your nails filed regularly will strengthen them and help reduce the risk of breakage
  • clean under your nails – keeping nails clean and free from dirt and bacteria will reduce the risk of infections
  • ask your doctor about biotin – biotin (also known as Vitamin B7) is often used as a supplement to strengthen hair and nails – always consult your doctor before trying new supplements 
  • give your nails a break between nail treatments – be sure to give your nails proper recovery time before having false nails reapplied.

So there you have it… our guide on how to quickly and safely remove nails at home! This knowledge and expertise is particularly useful if you aspire to open your own mobile beauty salon or set up a business at home. 

Now you and your strong, healthy nails can take on the world!

Don’t forget to check out our courses, where we go even more in-depth into the essential skills every nail professional needs with our nail course online.

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