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How Long Does It Take To Get Acrylic Nails Off? [Typically]

Your acrylic nails need urgent removal but you are reluctant to book yet another pricey salon appointment. At the same time you know that removing them by yourself is not ideal. If not done properly, self-removal can seriously damage the natural nail. Another concern is the time that the whole process takes – life nowadays is hectic and every minute counts. But what your options when it comes to this necessary procedure?

And most importantly, how long does it take to get acrylic nails off? It typically takes about 20 minutes to get acrylic nails off at a salon. If you are inexperienced and you decide to remove them at home, then it takes between 30-45 minutes. It will also depends on the method of removal you choose and the tools used. Moreover, technicians at salons are experienced, know exactly what to do and have the equipment ready to make the removal faster.

Getting acrylics removed is never as fun as getting them applied to begin with. However, it is an important part of having your nails done, and a failure to remove them properly can have serious and long term consequences for the health of your nails.

So, before you event attempt to remove acrylics at home, you need to supply yourself with a few items. Remember, this can take additional time.

Nevertheless, the best ways to remove acrylic nails, and that will be discussed in this article here today include:

  • Soaking your nails in pure 100% acetone for about 10 minutes,
  • Wrapping your nails in acetone and aluminium foil,
  • Using acetone and plastic bags,
  • Applying acetone-free nail polish remover,
  • Using an electric file or regular nail filers,
  • Or using hot water without acetone and removal with dental floss.

Of course, what you decide to do will depend on your preference, the tools you have available to you and where you want to get your acrylic nail removal done.

Let us know take a closer look at all the time-frames involved. We will also cover the ways salons will remove acrylics, whether it should be painful having acrylics removed before turning to self removal techniques that are proven not to cause long-term damage!

So be sure to keep on reading to ensure you get all the information you need!

How Long Does It Take To Get Acrylic Nails Removed?

Acrylic nail removal takes from 20 to 45 minutes on average, depending on the method you choose.

If you go to a salon, your nails are removed for about 20 minutes by soaking them in 100% acetone. Shaping and filing your natural nails takes about another ten minutes.

Bear in mind those 20 minutes is the average time. Take into consideration that everyone’s nails are different and the glue used at salons may vary.

Sometimes it can take longer for the chemicals to dissolve by acetone.

In addition, customers’ nails also differ in structure and strength. Some may hold the glue better than others.

It is important to note that you need a nail polish remover with 100% acetone. Otherwise, the chemical does not dissolve.

Another very important emphasis is to know that there are two main substances out of which the glue is made – MMA and EMA (ethyl metacrylate). 

MMA is illegal and can cause permanent damage to your nails.

When you book your appointment never go for dodgy and cheap salons. Some of them might still use MMA due to its cheap price. 

If you decide to remove them at home, give yourself between half an hour to 45 minutes or even up to an hour.

Home methods take longer. If you are not used to removing acrylics by yourself, the process can be quite lengthy as you must be very careful.

It you are negligent, you can damage your nails severely. Ripping nails off is also possible, if correct steps are not applied.

How Do Salons Remove Acrylic Nails?

Salons remove acrylic nails by making you soak your nails in acetone for about 10 minutes or until the acryl dissolves.

Then the remains are cut with a specialized tool, similar to nail clippers. The process is fast and painless, with some occasional discomfort. 

After cutting, there are some small pieces of acrylic leftovers on your nail plate. The beautician gently files them off.

The whole point of soaking your nails in acetone is for the acryl to dissolve and become very soft.

This is vital, because if it remains hard and pulled by force, layers of your nail plate can go with it or even the entire nail in some cases.

Some salons apply the tin foil method.

First a cotton ball is dipped into acetone and then the nail is wrapped with it. On top, a wrap of tin foil is placed.

Gently squeezing is applied to make sure the wraps are stable.

You probably ask yourself what so much acetone can potentially do your skin. Some redness and momentary irritation are possible but not anything more serious, especially if you do not do it regularly.

Is It Painful To Get Acrylic Nails Removed?

No, it is not. If done properly, acrylics removal should not be painful at all. As long as the glue is dissolved completely and is soft, it should come off with almost no effort.

Slight discomfort can occur while removing the remains from your nail plate due to the natural pushing necessary for removal.

How Can I Take Off My Acrylic Nails At Home Without Damage?

The pandemic forced all salons to shut down for a couple of months. We had to get inventive and look for ways to fix our manicures at home.

One of the biggest challenges was how to remove artificial nails by ourselves.

It is not only that the colors and designs peel off and fade away but growth gaps show off.

Also, the nails become very long and sufficient cutting and filing is needed.

Here are some methods to remove acrylics safely at home. Home removal takes about 30-40 minutes.

If you are in need of acetone, which is used for several of the different methods below, here is the one to get from Amazon.

Otherwise, if you decide to use an acetone free nail remover, then I swear by this natural and plant-based product from Amazon.

Soak In Acetone With Warm Water

Materials needed:

  • Acetone
  • Orange sticks
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Nail clippers
  • Warm water
  • Tweezers
  • Two bowls

Before you begin, prepare your equipment. Fill in one of the bowls with acetone and the other with warm water.

Carefully place the bowl with acetone with the one with warm water and leave it for a couple of minutes to warm up. Cut the acrylics as short as possible with the clippers.

Do not force or pull them in any case. Then, apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly on the skin surrounding your nails. It will protect you from the drying and burning effect of the acetone.

Now dip your entire nail plates in the bowl with acetone and wait for 30-40 minutes. It can be shorter, depending on how fast the acryl softens.

If you feel it is safe, gently pull the acrylic layer with the tweezers. Do not pull unless the glue comes off very easily!

Otherwise, you risk seriously damaging your nails. Gently remove any leftovers with orange sticks. They are wooden, which minimizes the damage on the nail.

You can use them after that to take care of the cuticles.

Acetone And Aluminium Foil

Materials needed:

  • Acetone
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail buffer or file
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Ten square-cut aluminium foils
  • Petroleum jelly

Same as the first method cut your nails as short as possible.

Using the file, remove the top coat and as much colour from the design as possible. Apply petroleum jelly over your skin.

Then, soak the cotton balls in the acetone and wrap it firmly around your nails. After that apply the foil pieces over the cotton and wait for 25-30 minutes.

The acryl should come off together with the foil and cotton after removing. If not, keep soaking.

Gently clean any leftovers and take care of the cuticles. Shape up with the file and nail buffer.

Acetone And Plastic Bags

Materials needed:

  • Nail clippers
  • Acetone
  • A large ziplock bag
  • Wooden cuticle stick
  • Nail buffer.

Reduce the size of your fake nails as much as possible. Take a big ziplock bag and fill it in with as much acetone as necessary to easily dip your nails in.

Tilt the bag to one side so the acetone gathers in one corner. Leave your nails soaking for 15-20 minutes.

After that, try scrapping the glue off your nails with the wooden stick. If the chemical does not come off easily, keep soaking until it does. Use the buffer to remove remnants.

Using Acetone-free Nail Polish Remover

Materials needed:

  • Acetone-free nail polish remover
  • Tweezers
  • Bowl
  • Nail clippers

As always, shorten your nails as long as possible.

Carefully pry the edges with the tweezers after which pour acetone-free nail polish remover into a bowl. Soak the nails for 30-40 minutes.

Once the acryl softens, gently pull it with the tweezers.

With An Electric File

Materials needed:

  • Electric nail file
  • Acetone
  • Cotton balls
  • Tinfoil
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Cuticle oil

This method asks for a bit of skill and is practiced more by professionals.

Use the electric file to remove the top layer of the acryl. Be careful not to go too deep and hurt your nail.

Dust should appear while filing. Soak cotton pads in acetone and wrap one around each nail, followed by tinfoil.

Soak for 10-15 minutes and remove the wraps.

Any acryl should come off at the same time. Use the cuticle pushers to removes any leftovers. Take care of the cuticles and moisturize thoroughly.

Using Nail Files

Materials needed:

  • Nail filer or buffer
  • Orange sticks
  • Nail clippers
  • Cuticle scissors
  • Cuticle oil

File away your nails. This method is lengthy and more time-consuming but does not involve chemicals.

Shorten your nails as much as possible. Start filing them until you reach the nail bed (your own nail).

Make sure you don’t file it by accident. After filing, if you still see bits and pieces of the chemical, take the nail clippers and very carefully pry small pieces one by one.

Do not try to take off the whole piece all at once. Any smaller pieces you can scrape off with the orange sticks. At the end, soften up your skin and nails with cuticle oil as this procedure can a bit harsh.

Using Hot Water Without Acetone

Materials needed:

  • Warm water
  • Nail filer
  • Orange sticks
  • Nail clipper

This method is the most gentle one and harmless for the skin and nails. I also cover it in a separate article here.

Start by cutting the nails and carefully prying the edges.

Then soak your nails in warm water for 30-40 minutes to dissolve the glue. After that, try removing the whole acryl layer with an orange stick?

So, what is the difference between this method and the one with acetone and warm water?

The difference is that you do not harm your hands with acetone but on the downside the procedure can take a lot longer.

Also, with acetone the acryl dissolves while water only softens it. Arm yourself with patience (and time) if you go for this method.

Use Dental Floss

Materials needed:

  • A partner
  • Dental floss
  • Orange sticks

Sounds curious, doesn’t it?! If you opt for this way, first, very gently and slowly pry your cuticles.

Ask you partner to place the floss at the edge where you have been prying. Slowly start moving the floss towards the tip of the nail, between the fake layer and your real nail. Continue until the artificial enhancement falls.

Choose the dental floss wisely. The one that you have in your bathroom cabinet may not work.

There are different types – some are thicker and more difficult to slide. Buy one that is very thin and able to move effortlessly along the nails.

Tip: You can apply this method with a business card as well.


Whichever process you choose, don’t forget to take it slow and gradually. Spare some time to remove your acrylics properly and don’t risk damaging your own nails.

Methods with acetone can be a bit irritable for the skin but are faster and very effective.

If you go for one without the polish remover, give yourself time and patience.

The least recommended ones are procedures involving prying.

Either way, it is always recommended to apply some nourishing cuticle oil once your nails have been removed. This will help hydrate the natural nail, and help return and strengthen them back to their best. Here is the best all-natural cuticle oil I personally use. I get it on Amazon.

If you are not used to removing acrylics, or you are not a professional, then it might be better to book yourself in at the salon!