Can You Use Nail Polish Remover On Acrylic Nails?

You had a beautiful set of acrylic nails, but the time has come to make an appointment for a new set or remove it and take a breather. But can you use regular nail polish remover on acrylic nails?

Can You Use Nail Polish Remover On Acrylic Nails?

Nail polish remover can remove nail polish art from acrylic nails. Attempting to remove acrylic nails with nail polish remover can harm your nails. Still, it can work if you have at least 40 minutes and a lot of nail polish remover. It evaporates quickly, and you have to add more throughout.

a person removing acrylic nails using a cotton ball dipped in regular nail polish remover

There are ways to use nail polish remover on acrylic nails. However, some are not as conventional. Therefore, experts might not choose the option because it is time-consuming and wastes a lot of nail polish remover.

When Will Nail Polish Remover Work On Acrylic Nails?

Some people won’t even give nail polish remover as an option to remove acrylic nails. Because of the composition of acrylics, the hardness thereof, and the harm it can cause when done wrong. There are, however, ways to use nail polish remover on acrylic nails.

  • To remove acrylic nails – When you have time to remove your acrylic set and have a lot of regular nail polish remover, some claim it might work. However, regular nail polish remover lacks acetone or has too little acetone to soften acrylics faster. 
  • To clean nail art mistakes – When doing nail art with any polish (gel, regular nail polish, or Polygel), you can remove any mistakes with regular nail polish remover before curing it. This also helps to remove gel polish from your skin that is not cured yet. However, once it is cured under the UC lamp, the nail polish remover won’t remove it.
  • To remove a regular nail polish layer applied over the acrylics – some nail techs add a standard nail polish layer over acrylics if a client wants a specific color. This layer can be removed with nail polish remover without damaging or degrading the acrylic overlay.

Removing Acrylic Nails With Nail Polish Remover

Experts never recommend this method as a removal option. The time it takes to remove the acrylic nails with nail polish remover is extensive, and the chance that you will harm your nail plate is more than using acetone.

If you don’t have any other option and you have to remove it yourself, you will need to follow the next steps carefully:

Step 1: Buff the nail to remove the top layer of the acrylic nails. This ensures that the acrylic nails are more vulnerable and might budge more to a removal solution.

a nail technician buffing nail polish using a manual nail buffer

Step 2: Add boiling water and nail polish remover to the bowl. Please do not burn yourself, but add your hands as soon as possible and keep them in for 40 minutes. 

Step 3: Add additional nail polish remover and hot water as time passes. Nail polish remover evaporates faster; thus, you must add more to keep the effectiveness high and the time spent soaking shorter.

Step 4: When the acrylic nails lift, remove your hand from the water and the nail polish remover solution and peel off slowly with a tweezer. If it doesn’t come off quickly, buff it a little with a file and place it in the bowl again.

This removal option should be avoided if you have acetone available. Peeling off the acrylic can damage the nail plate and sometimes even hurt. The long soaking time might ease the hold of the acrylic nails on the nail plate, but the chance of harm is still significant.

Those with sensitive skin and nails who cannot use acetone must be patient when removing acrylic nails. Instead, spend an hour soaking them off without peeling at them too much. 

This removal method with regular nail polish remover can take 40 minutes to an hour, almost as long as a new application. If you cannot handle acetone, it might be time to find another overlay option that better complies with your skin and nails.

pouring acetone for nail polish removal

Which Removing Agents To Use On Acrylic Nails?

There are different solutions to use when you want to remove acrylic nails (some of them are at-home solutions). Some work more sufficiently than others.

Acrylics Nail Removing Agents
AcetoneThe most popular and effective solution to get acrylics off the nails. Soaking in hot water and acetone will take 10 to 15 minutes to remove acrylic nails.
Cuticle oil or olive oilUse cuticle oil on nails that started to come off. Soak a cotton ball with the oil of your choice and hold it for 5 minutes on the acrylic nails (especially the area where it began to lift). 
Rubbing AlcoholIt works the same as acetone soak, but it is not mixed with water, and you will have to wait 30 minutes minimum.
Hydrogen PeroxideIt works the same as acetone but is much harsher on the nails and surrounding skin. Only opt for this option if you have no other choice.
ToolsBuffing and filing can remove acrylics or lifting tools. Note that these are not ideal; you will thin and damage your nails using instruments alone.
Warm waterThe safest way initially, depending on how long you are willing to wait for the acrylic to melt and to come off easily without force. It can take an hour or more of soaking to soften the acrylic.
Baking soda and toothpasteA solution of baking soda, toothpaste, and hot water can be a soaking agent that can loosen the acrylic nails in 20 minutes.
Lemon juice and vinegarSoak the nails in a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar. First, soak in hot water to speed up the removal process. In total, it can take 40 minutes to an hour.

Whichever removing agent you use, be sure not to force anything. You are messing with your nail plate condition if you have to force a file to buff off the acrylic or force a tweezer to peel off a layer. The acrylic application can compromise your nail’s quality, and the removal method can significantly advance the harm.


You can use nail polish to remove acrylic nails, but experts don’t recommend it. The strength of acrylic nail composition is too strong for the regular remover to work sufficiently. A longer soaking time also isn’t good for your skin. So instead, remove it with acetone or opt for another overlay option.