wellness·3 min read

How to Take Off Dip, Gel, Press-On, and Acrylic Nails At Home — Without Damaging Your Nails

Acrylic nail color samples laid out on a table
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Pexels
Jul 20, 2022

Getting your nails done is all fun and games — until you realize it’s been three weeks, they’re overgrown, and typing is officially impossible, which is kind of a big WFH problem. While you could, of course, get them removed by a pro, we also get it if you'd rather do a DIY removal, whether because of time or cost (you have a budget to keep, after all). But before you start eyeing the pliers, don’t. Because, spoiler: Ripping, peeling, or popping them off isn’t the way to go. In fact, that could damage your nail bed by removing layers of your actual nail. Yikes.

The good news is that there is a safer way to remove your acrylic, gel, dip, or press-on nails at home. And that’s where we come in. So gather your supplies and follow the steps below. 

How do you take off acrylic nails? 

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Nail clippers

  • Nail file

  • Cuticle pusher

  • A small bowl (large enough to fit all five fingers)

  • Acetone

  • Cuticle oil

How to remove acrylic nails at home:

  1. Cut the excess. Clip off as much of the acrylic extensions as you can, making sure you don’t reach your natural nails. 

  2. Soak your nails. Rest your nails in a bowl of acetone for 30 minutes (which, BTW, is perfect for fitting in in an episode of your fave show). If you want to speed up the process, you can also warm the acetone. Place the bowl of acetone inside another bowl partly filled with warm water. Important to note: Do not microwave it — acetone is highly flammable.

  3. Remove the acrylic. Gently scrape off the softened acrylic with a cuticle pusher. 

  4. Moisturize. Once all the acrylic has been removed, give your cuticles some TLC by covering them with a generous amount of cuticle oil. 

How do you take off gel nail polish?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Nail file

  • Cotton balls

  • Acetone

  • Aluminum foil

  • Orangewood stick or cuticle pusher

  • Cuticle oil

How to remove gel nail polish at home:

  1. File. Buff off the top layer of gel.

  2. Wrap your nails. Soak a cotton ball in acetone. Place it on your nail, then wrap it in a small piece of aluminum foil. 

  3. Wait it out. Let your nails sit in the wraps for about 10 to 15 minutes. 

  4. Check the gel. Remove the foil and gently lift the gel off your nail with an orangewood stick or cuticle pusher

  5. Give your cuticles some love. Massage some cuticle oil into your nail beds. 

How do you take off dip nail polish?

Here's what you’ll need:

  • Nail file

  • A small bowl

  • Acetone

  • Towel

  • Cuticle oil

How to remove dip powder nail polish at home:

  1. File. Buff away the shiny top layer of the nail.

  2. Soak your nails. Dip your nails in acetone for about 10 to 20 minutes.  

  3. Remove the dip powder. Scrape or wipe away the dip nail polish. 

  4. Hydrate your cuticles. Treat your nail beds to a generous dose of cuticle oil.

How do you take off press-on nails?

Here's what you’ll need:

  • A bowl of warm soapy water

  • An orangewood stick 

  • Cuticle oil 

How to remove press-on nails at home:

  1. Soak ‘em. Fill a bowl with soap and warm water, then submerge your nails. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to loosen the nail glue.

  2. See if they’re ready. Guide an orangewood stick around the edges of your nail to see if they have loosened up. If not, return to the bowl.

  3. Lift up the nails. Once they’re loose enough, they should easily lift off your nail with the orangewood stick. 

  4. Moisturize. Rub some cuticle oil into your nails to keep them hydrated


DIYing your press-on, gel, or acrylic nail removal can damage your nails if it's not done correctly. So settle in with your favorite bingeable show and take it slow and steady. Your natural nails will thank you for it. 

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