While a fresh mani can make us feel all sorts of put-together, the aftermath isn’t so pretty. Gone too soon are the days of rocking those pastels and different shades of glitters, which are quickly replaced with chipped nails, an unflattering gap between our cuticles and the fake nail, and nails that have become weakened and brittle from all the harsh products. You could head back to the salon to get the fake nail and its glue removed, but that, too, costs a pretty penny. Instead, go the DIY route. It's simple, quick, and everything you need for nail glue remover is likely already found at home.
Step one: Soak the nails and remove any loosened pieces
While breaking or chipping a fake nail isn't great, you're actually a step ahead of the process in removing nail glue from your real nails. Before diving into the first official step, you will want to loosen the fake nail as much as you can, using a nail file or your own nail to carefully lift up the edges. If it’s not lifting, leave it; forcing the nail off will only cause more damage. From there, prepare a bowl of warm (not scalding) soapy water. Let your nails soak in there for around 15 minutes to loosen the nail glue from the nails.
Step two: Apply acetone to nails
Acetone, while super harsh to the nails, is essential to removing nail glue. Begin by coating a cotton pad or ball with the acetone and press it on your nails for approximately five to 10 minutes. Adding the heat from your pressed finger will help the acetone do its magic as it begins to loosen the bond of the nail glue from the nail.
Safety tip! Avoid getting too much acetone on the skin around the nails, as it can dry the skin and even sting. Ouch! If the skin turns a white-ish color, it’s dried out. Regain moisture with cuticle oil.
Step three: Remove any excess glue and moisturize
When the time is up, use the cotton pad or ball to gently take off the rest of the glue. It should come off easily at this point, but if it’s still putting up a fight, grab the nail file again to buff off the rest. Wash your hands afterward to remove the rest of the acetone. To replace any lost moisture to your nails and hands from using acetone, rub cuticle oil or petroleum jelly on your nails and the skin around the nails.
How to remove false nail glue pads
If fake nails aren't your thing, a healthier and cost-effective alternative is to use false nail glue pads or "nail stickies," as some like to call them. They are quick and easy to apply—just carefully stick and go—and you can buy them in a variety of different colors and designs. To remove them, follow a similar process for removing strong nail glue by soaking your nails in warm, soapy water. No need for acetone! Just peel them off and if there is any excess glue, simply scrub it off.
Sarah is a multi-platform writer and editor. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Vital Proteins, Healthline, Diply, and more. When she's not writing, she's trying to keep up with her border collie, Emmy.