How to Remove Fake Nails Without Ruining Your Real Ones

Updated 07/10/19
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Before you scoff at the idea of acrylics, just think: Wouldn’t it be nice to go two weeks without a manicure and still have long shiny nails? We think so. While there are quite a few perks to fake nails, there are some downsides as well, namely damage to your real nails. Therefore, we reached out to Gina Edwards, celebrity manicurist for Kiss Products Inc., to learn how to remove fake nails without damaging your real ones.

Meet Our Expert

Gina Edwards is a celebrity manicurist and brand ambassador for Kiss Products Inc. Her work has been featured in numerous beauty and fashion editorials as well as covers for the likes of Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, and Narcisse.

There is nothing worse than walking around with a set of fake nails only to find that they are beginning to fall off. Since going to the salon to get your nails taken off isn’t always an option, we asked Edwards to tell us how to remove fake nails from home. While she recommends seeing a licensed nail professional, as they can effectively minimize damage to your natural nails, she has a few at-home removal tips that will come in handy if you’re ever in a bind. For Edwards tips on how to remove fake nails yourself, keep reading.

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Use Pure Acetone

1. Use Pure Acetone

acetone - how to remove fake nails
Up and Up Acetone Nail Polish Remover Dip-It $3
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Edwards says that fake gel nails must be drilled down at the salon. However, if you have acrylics, you can remove them by soaking them in pure acetone. She recommends warming up the acetone before soaking your nails. You can do this by pouring the acetone into a small bowl and then placing that bowl in a larger bowl filled with hot water. Once warmed, you can either soak your nails in the acetone for 45 minutes, or, if you want a gentler process, follow step two below.

02 of 04

Add Baby Oil

2. Add Baby Oil

baby oil - how to remove fake nails
Johnson's Baby Oil $4
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To make a mixture that will gently take off your acrylics, Edwards says to add a small amount of a mineral-based product such as baby oil to your warmed acetone, as this will gently lift the acrylic from the natural nail. Soak your nails for 45 minutes so that the fake nails come off nicely, no prying necessary.

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Clip Your Nails and Use a Recovery Kit

Kiss Manicovery Recovery Care Kit
KISS Manicovery Recovery Care Kit $10
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Clip your nails to an active (shorter) length and then file the top layer of your nails to break the seal of the gel. File and shape. Edwards advises that as your natural nails grow, place a strengthener on your nails to fortify the new layers—like the one included with the Manicovery Kit from KISS, which is a great option.

04 of 04

Try a Soak Off Steam System

the painted nail steam off
The Painted Nail Steam Off Gel and Acrylic Remover $60
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Edward says a great, smooth process to making sure there is no damage during gel polish removal is by using a soak off steam system, like The Painted Nail. The best part: there are no harsh chemicals that come with using this removal method.

Once your fake nails are off, you might be tempted to go back to the salon to have a new set put on. However, if you are in the DIY spirit, Edwards recommends using press-ons like ImPress Press-On Manicures ($6). She says make sure to replace every seven days for a fresh look without harsh removal, as they have a self-adhesive backing that is easy to take off and causes "no damage at all." Your natural nails will grow under the imPRESS.

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