Do You Need 100% Acetone To Remove Acrylic Nails?

Taking off your nails might seem like a big feat, especially if you use artificial nails. As great and recommendable acrylic nails are, you have to be careful about taking them off to avoid unnecessary accidents or infections. You can either attempt to take them off yourself, considering you know exactly what to do and how, or visit your nail technician for a safer and guaranteed procedure.

This has led to the question: Do You Need 100% Acetone To Remove Acrylic Nails?

Yes, you need pure acetone to remove acrylic nails. The fastest way to remove acrylic nails is to wrap a cotton ball soaked in pure acetone around each nail, wait ten minutes, and then wipe away the softened acrylic. To understand why that much, we’ll have to delve into the nature of acrylic nails.

What Are Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails are produced from Acrylic Glass (PMMA) material. It is mixed with ethyl methacrylate (mixed with some inhibitors). Other liquid monomers are also used, but it is ethyl methacrylate prominently. The mixture forms a malleable bead, which begins to cure or solidify until a solid is achieved after just a few minutes. Whereas, Acetone or propanone are organic compounds in the smallest form of ketone.

Physically, it is flammable, colorless, and highly volatile with a characteristic pungent smell. It serves as an organic solvent with a volatile organic compound exempt status in the US that thus making it an active ingredient in the production of nail polish remover and paint thinner.

Can You Use 100 Acetone on Your Nails?

Yes, you can use 100 acetone on your nails. Acetone is often recommended for nail polish removal because its low viscosity and low surface tension helps it evaporate quickly. It does this so well, in fact, that it can be used to remove the lacquer from your nails if you apply it directly. If you do this, be careful not to get any on the cuticles or skin around the nail, because it can cause serious skin irritation and even burns.

How Does Acetone Work in Removing Acrylic Nails?

Being a volatile organic solvent, Acetone slowly softens and then melts the acrylic to make removal easier. You can also warm the Acetone before using it. To do this, you can run the bottle under warm water, and then you are good to go.

Note: do not attempt any other method in heating the Acetone, as it is volatile and extremely flammable.

Steps to remove your acrylics without damaging your nails:

1. Filing

To begin with, you must file away as much acrylic as you can. Filing is essential to wear down the top layer of nail polish.

To file, usually, two types of files are needed; start with a Core grade file to remove the outer part of the acrylic, then switch to a Fine file as you get thinner, so you don’t file too much. Fine files have a smoother texture than Core grade files, typically rough in texture and used to shape nails.

2. Soaking nails in Acetone

The best and easiest way to melt your acrylics is by using acetone nail polish remover. 100% acetone is recommended, acting as natural kryptonite to acrylic nails. To remove acrylic nails, you can go about it in two ways; firstly, after filing away the top layer of the nail polish, place your fingers in a shallow bowl of warm 100% pure acetone.

Make sure your entire nails are dipped in, then leave for about 30 minutes. You’ll notice the acrylic softening and slowly melting away. Alternatively, you can use the foil method. It’s the same as soaking your nails in pure Acetone, except here, you don’t have to submerge your entire nails.

Cotton pads or cotton balls, aluminum foil, and 100 percent acetone will be needed. Start by soaking the cotton in Acetone and using the saturated cotton ball directly on the nail.

Then wrap the acrylic nail in the aluminum foil to seal off the air from coming in and hold it firmly for about 30 minutes. The aluminum foil prevents the Acetone from evaporating while you wait.

3. Polishing any remaining pieces

After you’ve allowed the acrylic to dissolve, remove the remaining pieces of the fake nail with a nail buffer, cuticle pusher, or nail file. Polish gently instead of filing, and if the remaining pieces are not coming off, soak your nails in Acetone again, leave for some minutes, and retry removing them.

4. Hydrating your Nails

After you might have successfully removed all the acrylic nails, treat your hands and nails. To treat it, use TLC to restore hydration and strengthen your nail beds since they’ve been soaked in Acetone. Lots of moisture is needed after removing your acrylic nails, so you can try paraffin treatment, cuticle oil, a hand mask, or rich hand cream to regain hydration in your hands and nail beds.

It’s best to entrust the acrylic nail removal to your nail technician to ensure no or least damage to your nails. Also, regularly cleaning and caring for your nails will prevent any fungus or bacterial infection that may abound from constantly using acrylic.

Acetone can also damage your nails. Acetone can bring significant damage to your acrylic finger and toenails, so the best way to avoid this is by simply not using a product that contains it.

Acetone is so powerful that nail polishes are the least of things it can dissolve. It can dissolve wax, paints, varnishes, glues, and even plastics. According to some reports, it is confirmed that Acetone can cause dizziness, nausea, headache, and fatigue, and it can also irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

So when purchasing your nail polish remover, you should check if it is acetone-based or Acetone free. But of course, you don’t have to be scared of Acetone, as long as you keep to appropriate usage measures.

Other Ways To Remove Acrylic Nails

These are some different ways to remove your acrylic nails without acetone

1. Nail Clipper Method

Using a nail clipper is another proven way of removing your acrylic nails.

Materials Needed:

  • Nail clippers
  • None-acetone nail polish remover
  • Cuticle tweezers
  • A bowl


Using tweezers or cuticle sticks, clip your nails extension very short and raise your “faux” nails’ edges. Then, fill the bowl with your non-acetone nail polish remover, dip your fingers in it and wait for about 30 minutes.

When you start feeling the acrylics have loosened, take your hand, then use the tweezers to pull the nails off. Seemingly lengthy, but this process won’t damage your cuticles.

2. Laminated card Method

This method is pretty straightforward, so you can do it yourself. Just make sure you are using a strong laminated card.

Materials Needed:

  • Laminated card
  • Cuticle stick
  • Cuticle cream and moisturizer
  • Nail buffer
  • And any other laminated card as extra


File the edges of the acrylic nails with the cuticle stick, pry off the border with the corner of the laminated card, then slide the card gently without ripping off your nails.

Then keep on sliding until the faux nail is removed. Use your nail buffer to clean and polish your nails, and apply the cuticle cream and moisturizer to leave them radiant.

3. Dental Floss Method

Using dental floss is an excellent alternative to Acetone, the thin string of dental floss is more useful than strengthening your teeth and gum alone. It is advisable to use when your acrylics are already loosened to avoid damaging your natural nails.

Materials Needed:

  • Dental floss
  • Cuticle stick


If the acrylic is already loose, you don’t need this method. Use the cuticle stick to raise the faux nail’s edge gently, then insert the dental floss under the acrylic nail. Pop off the floss using the sawing motion. You may require someone to assist you with this process.

4. Nail Filing Method

If you are not patient or in a hurry, ignore this method, as it requires more time to execute than the other methods. But your work would be easier if you are using an electric nail machine.

Materials Needed:

  • Nail buffer
  • Nail clipper
  • Cuticle scissors
  • Cuticle stick
  • Cuticle cream and moisturizer


Use the nail cutter to cut your faux nails, cut as short as possible, then start filing and buffing with the nail extension at the top until you can trim the nails and cut through them.

After trimming, file the faux nails using the buffer. At this point, you can hasten your work with an electric nail machine if available. If not, continue using the cuticle stick to file the nails’ edges gently.

Clip the nail away using the cuticle scissors under the acrylic nail, lift the edges, and trim until the faux nail is completely removed. Clean your nails afterward, use the buffer, polish your natural nails, and apply cuticle cream and moisturizer to keep your nails in good condition.

5. Using Warm water

This method combines a few other ways to soften the nail color to remove it easily.

Materials needed:

  • Hot water
  • Moisturizer
  • Electric nail buffer
  • And a bowl


To use warm water to remove your acrylic nails, you must soak them in warm water for about 10-20 minutes. You need to keep reheating the keep the water warm.

Do not use lukewarm water for this procedure, as it needs to be hot-tubbed hot. After soaking your nails, start filing with an electric nail buffer. When the nails are soft enough, file away end by moisturizing with rehydrating oils.

Does Acetone Dissolve Acrylic?

Yes, acetone will dissolve acrylic; in fact, acetone is used as an alternative to nail polish remover when removing acrylic nails.

Will Paint Thinner Remove Acrylic Nail?

No, paint thinner will not remove acrylic nails. If you have an acrylic manicure, you can use acetone nail polish remover to remove the nails.


To remove your acrylic nails, it’s best to work with what’s best for you and your nails. You could always decide to go all acetone, or perhaps use other methods stated above, or maybe even switch between both options from time to time. It’s all allowed as long as the health and longevity of your nails are what inspire your decision.

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