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How To Remove Fake Nails Glued On – Acrylics, Gel Nails & More

If you have Fake Nails Glued on and you are looking to remove them quickly, easily, and effectively then read on.

I would like to present to you the best methods that you can use that will not cause any damage to your Natural Nail Beds and Cuticles. 

I’d like to outline step by step, what you need to do and provide you with some tips and tricks along the way.

When I first started wearing Fake Nails, it was frustrating when it came to removing them. 

I was always worried about my natural nails and how I could do this myself without having to pay a professional to do so for me.

And I felt that this was such a shame because Fake Nails are a great alternative to using nail polish!

Since that time I have qualified as a certified Nail Technician, and regularly undertake this task in our Salon for my many clients and friends.

The truth of the matter is, you do not need to go to a Salon to remove your Fake Nails.

You can do this yourself from the comfort of your own home following one of the following methods.

I’ve included several different proven techniques so you can pick the one that either suit your preference, or that includes the items that you personally have lying around.

And it doesn’t just stop at fake nails, you can use these methods below to remove Gel Nails and Gel Polish – so they are really handy for you to learn and make the most of.

How To Remove Fake Nails Glued On

There are two different methods that you can follow.

I will start with the easier method which you should try first.

If this doesn’t work as well as you hoped or you want to jump straight to method 2, then feel free.

Method 1: Soaking

The first method that I like to do myself at home is the soaking method.

What I love about this removal technique is that you can soak multiple fingers at a time, and you can even watch some TV whilst the remover works its magic.

What You Will Need

  • Nail Clipper
  • Nail File
  • Petroleum Jelly (Optional)
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Bowl
  • Buffer
  • Cuticle Oil (Optional)

Step One:

You want to first start by reducing the size of your fake nails.

To do this, you are going to need a Nail Clipper (you could use a small pair of scissors but this is not recommended nor advised). 

This one comes with a Magnifying glass which can be really helpful!

With the Nail Clipper, cut your Fake Nails back as much as you can (so you are cutting away the excess and reducing their length).

You will want your Acrylics as short as possible for the next steps, but be careful not to cut your skin or go too low.

The idea is to make removing the false nails easier, not to actually remove them in this step.

Step Two:

The next thing you are going to want to do is to file your nails to remove the topcoat.

Whilst a regular Emery Board will work, I personally use a premium Crystal Glass Nail File (like this).

Whilst incredibly cheap, I find these to be far more effective, they minimize the risk of injury, and it takes far less time to actually file down the topcoat.

They also last for over 5 years so this will last you a long time.

If you are not quite sure what topcoat is, its basically the gel later that sits on top of the Fake Nails (it makes them shiny and glam).

It also forms as a protective layer which you will want to remove so that your nail polish remover can work better.

Step Three:

This is an optional but recommended step.

Here I like to, and advise that you, apply some Petroleum Jelly onto the edge of your Cuticles (and the surrounding skin as your finger meets the nail).

This will help to not only moisturize your cuticles but will also protect your skin

Step Four:

Take a Medium-Sized Bowl, preferably small enough so you can avoid using too much product (helping not to waste too much) but large enough to fit one hand of nails in.

Now pour some Nail Polish Remover into this bowl.

Now a lot of tutorials, and even professionals, will recommend that you use Pure Acetone (like this) instead of nail polish remover.

Whilst this works great because it is very strong, it can and does cause damage to your Nail Beds and Cuticles when used regularly and over time.

As Pure Acetone contains harsh chemicals to help dissolve and remove the nail glue holding your false nails on, it does a good job at doing this – but to the detriment of your skin/nails.

In my experience, a Natural Nail Polish Remover (like this) does as good, if not better a job than Pure Acetone, and you will be preserving the health of your nails in the process.

I, therefore, recommend that you use a Natural Nail Polish Remover in this step.

If you have Pure Acetone or a Traditional Nail Polish Remover (that consists of Acetone) lying around your house, you can use this for now, but I would strongly recommend you get some Natural Remover for next time!

Step Five

Now it’s time to soak your nails into the bowl. If you used a big enough bowl, you should be able to get a whole hand’s nails in; which will speed up this process.

Leave your nails in this bowl for between 10-15 minutes, and ensure that your nails are submerged the whole time.

There is not much you can do at this exact point but to sit back or relax.

Alternatively, you can always watch a bit of Netflix to pass the time.

Step Six:

After around 10-15 minutes is up and you can feel your false nails loosening, you will then manually take off the nails.

To do this, use the other hand (that you didn’t soak) and peel off the false nails one by one.

Due to the power of the Acetone/Natural Nail Polish remover, you will notice that the glue that was holding the nails on is now very weak, if not completely dissolved.

The Nails should literally peel off without much force, but if you notice that the glue is not soft enough for this, I would recommend that you place your hand back in the bowl for a further 5-10 minutes or so.

It may be that all of your nails are not quite ready yet, or just one or two need some further soaking.

Another great thing you can do at this stage, if you did want to apply a bit more pressure, is to use Orangewood sticks (like this). 

These are two-sided little pencil-like utensils – with a rounded and a sharp pointed end.

You can use these to apply some more pressure and try to push off your nails.

This is actually what we like to use in the Salon to speed up the process and its actually easier than using your other hand (with the false nails still on!)

Step Seven:

Once all of your false nails have been removed from one of your hands, you will now need to go through the steps above for your other hand.

Eventually, you will have two false nail-free hands.

Step Eight:

At this point, I advise that you wash your hands to get rid of any remaining glue, nail polish remover, or petroleum jelly from on or around your nails.

Simply use warm water and dry off with a towel after.

Step Eight:

One final thing you can do to ensure that your nails are completely free from glue and nail polish remover and to give your nails a beautiful little shine, is to use a Nail Buffer (like this).

By smoothing over your nails you will notice that any rough edges will be gone and there will be a nice, subtle shine to them.

Step Nine:

This last step is also optional but highly recommended. It’s even more so if you decided to use Pure Acetone!

Once you have removed your false nails, your natural nails are likely to be in a bit of state.

Do not worry, this is completely natural – they haven’t had any access to air and oxygen in a while, and they are mot likely lacking moisture and their natural essential oils.

The best way to quickly hydrate your nails, and to give them the materials they need to strengthen, is apply some Cuticle Oil enriched with Vitamin E (like this).

By massaging in Cuticle Oil daily, this will help your nails to replenish and return the natural moisture. This will help them to grow out once more.

Method 2: Aluminium Foil Method

The second method that is very effective is using Aluminium Foil. 

The major benefit of this technique is that the Aluminium Foil holds Nail Polish Remover onto each of your nails. This way you can actually do your nails all at once.

What You Will Need

  • Nail Clipper
  • Aluminium Foil
  • Cotton Balls
  • Nail File
  • Petroleum Jelly (Optional)
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Bowl
  • Buffer
  • Cuticle Oil (Optional)

Step One:

Just like the Soaking method, it is best to start by cutting down your fake nails with a Nail Clipper.

This one comes with a Magnifying glass which can be really helpful!

Cut each and every one of your false nails down as low as you possibly can without causing injury or harm to your finger.

You want the false nails to be as short as possible so that there is less work to do in the other steps.

Step Two:

Next up, and also following the same process as the Soaking method, you will want to file your nails – removing all of the topcoat.

Again I recommend a Crystal Glass Nail File (like this). to do this as you will obtain a lot better results.

You know that your False Nails have been filed adequately when they appear a lot less glossy and appear somewhat lacking in color.

Step Three:

Now, at this juncture you will need to saturate a Cotton Ball in Pure Acetone/ Nail Polish Remover.

Without repeating myself too much, I would strongly recommend that you get a Natural Nail Polish Remover for this step, as it will be a lot more beneficial for your nails long term.

You will need to saturate 10 cotton balls, one for each nail, during this step.

Once they are throughout soaked, place the first Cotton Ball onto one of your fake nails, ensuring that the surface area covers the entire nail.

Step Four:

Wrap your finger in Aluminium Foil, keeping the Cotton Ball in place.

Essentially you are using Aluminium Foil to keep the Cotton Ball pressed against your fake nail.

To make this step easier, I would actually recommend that you go ahead and cut the Aluminium into strips ahead of time.

You can cut them out to a length that wraps around your finger but where there is not too much spare and extra.

Be sure to wrap the Aluminium Foil on tightly, but not too much so that you cut off circulation to your fingers.

You just want them secure enough to hold the Cotton Ball soaked in Acetone/Nail Polish Remover in place.

Go through each and every single one of your nails, one at a time, so that you have two full hands worth of Aluminium Foil wrapped fingers:

Aluminium Foil Cotton Balled Wrapped Nails
Cotton Balls On Nails, Wrapped in Aluminium Foil

Step Five:

Time to sit back. You will now need to wait for around 15-20 minutes for the Acetone/Nail Polish remover to work its magic and to start work on your False Nail/Nail Glue.

As the Aluminium Foil is providing structure, you probably have a bit more freedom than the Soaking Method, so you can always get up and stretch your legs during this time.

I would advise that you dont do anything strenuous during this time or even use your hands much if not at all, because you then risk moving the Cotton Ball and reducing the effectiveness of the method. Again, I advise you just stick on some Netflix and chill.

Step Six:

Once the time is up, you will now want to remove the Aluminium Foil and Cotton Balls from each of your fingers.

Do this one by one and not all at the same time. That way, if the False Nail isn’t quite ready for removal then you can quickly get the Cotton Ball and Foil back over the nail again.

If and when the Nails feel ready, either use an Orangewood Stick (like this) or use (if possible) your other hand to remove your fake nails.

Be gentle when doing this, you do not want to damage your natural nail bed or cuticles.

Step Seven:

Your nails should now be completely clear of your false nails and the glue that was holding them on.

If you did want to completely finish off your nails and give them a slight shine, use a Nail Buffer (like this).

This will help smooth them over and make sure no debris is left remaining on them.

Step Eight:

The penultimate step is to wash your hands thoroughly. Simply use warm water and rinse through all of your nails one at a time.

Gently scrub to ensure all the false glue and nail polish remover has been filly removed. Then dry off with a towel after.

Step Nine:

Last but not least, be sure to condition your nails with a hydrating Cuticle Oil (like this).

As previously mentioned this will help to hydrate and restore your natural nails with the essential oils they need to thrive.

This will help them get stronger following false nail use and to help grow them.

Final Words

So there you have it – two effective, simple, and cheap ways to remove your Fake Nails directly from the comfort of your own home.

Fake Nails are fantastic, and they can give you a new design instantly and help you create a look that would otherwise be impossible at that specific time with your Natural Nails

If I was to offer you one concluding thought and piece of advice; be sure to regularly take breaks from Fake Nails and give your natural nails time to breathe and replenish.

Wearing false nails is actually quite damaging to your nail beds and cuticles and robs them of the things they need to thrive (Oxygen, Essential Oils, etc).

If you want to really protect your nails before between and after False Nail use, then I would recommend that you get a high quality Cuticle Oil and apply it twice daily.

It works really well if you apply it first thing in the morning, and then just before you got to bed.

It would also be highly advisable to use a Natural Chemical Free Nail Polish remover during the methods outlined above, that is free from harsh chemicals as found in your traditional Pure Acetone.

Looking for other removal tips? Check out my below guides for more!