How to Remove Gel Polish From Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails are long-lasting and one of the most popular artificial nails used nowadays. And putting gel polish over acrylic nails is a common practice. However, removing gel polish from acrylic nails isn’t an easy job.

Gel polish is stubborn and requires strong agents, like acetone, to be removed. We all know that acetone ruins acrylic nails, so how can you remove gel polish from acrylic nails without damaging them?

Read our different methods on how to remove gel polish from acrylics, at home.

How to Remove Gel Polish From Acrylic Nails?

You can remove gel polish from acrylic nails by filing the nail polish off the nails using a nail buffer or nail drill. Non-acetone removers are safe for acrylics and you can soak the nails using the tin foil method. Never apply acetone on acrylic nails to remove nail polish.

Removing gel polish from acrylic nails is trickier when compared to regular nail polish. Once applied it sticks strongly to the acrylics and stays on for a long time. The only disadvantage of using a gel polish is how difficult it is to remove it at home.

Today, I will discuss the different methods to remove gel polish from acrylic nails. These methods will help you change the color of your acrylics or repair chipped and dull nail polish. Getting it done at the salon is expensive so why not do it at home? So, let’s get right into it!

a nail technician using a electric nail file to remove gel polish from acrylic nails

Method 1: Buffing The Gel Polish Off

The buffing method is the most common way to remove gel polish from acrylic nails. It doesn’t damage the acrylics underneath. So, you can repaint the acrylics after removing the gel polish. Your acrylic nails will lose their shine from this method but you can always use clear nail polish to bring it back. 

Here are the things you need for the filing method:

  • 150 Grit Nail File
  • Baby Wipes

1. Choose Your Nail File

a nail technician buffing nail polish using a manual nail buffer

Filing your nails will remove the layers of gel polish from the acrylic nails. It is a little time-consuming if you use a traditional nail file instead of an electric one. However, manual nail files provide better control, especially if you aren’t a professional nail artist.

A 150-grit nail file is perfect for gel polish. It is rough enough for the stubborn gel polish layer. Some nail files come with two sides – 150 and 180 grit. A 180-grit nail file will work too but it won’t be as quick as the 150 one. 

An electric nail file will be much quicker than a manual one. If you have some experience using electric nail buffers, you should definitely go for those. You will be able to remove gel polish from the acrylic nails in no time.

Remember to not buff off the acrylic layer while using an electric file. Keep moving the electric file around to prevent ruining the acrylics underneath the gel polish.

2. Lay the File Flat On the Nails

Place the finger you want to work with on a hard and sturdy surface such as a table. Hold the nail file with your other hand by placing your middle finger underneath the file. Keep the index finger and your thumb on the opposite sides of the file. 

Lay the file flat on the nails and start buffing. Use the part of the file that is close to your thumb so you can control the pressure on your nails.  

Focus on a particular area first. Keep on buffing until you see the acrylic nails underneath.

Repeat this step on all nails until every bit of gel polish is removed from the acrylic.

Note: You will feel a burning sensation while filing your nails. Don’t worry – it is due to the friction between the file and the nails. It means that you are filing your nails the right way.

3. Clean the Nail Surface

After filing the gel polish off your acrylic nails, there will be a lot of residues. You have to wipe it off using baby wipes or a wet cloth before applying anything to the nails. Cleaning the nail surface is important for achieving smooth nails.

After removing the gel polish, you can repaint your acrylic nails at home. All you have to do is apply a base coat and then paint the acrylics with your favorite nail polish.

Fact: If your gel manicure’s finish isn’t shiny, you should remove sticky residue so they look glossy!

Method 2: Use Liquid Remover

a woman with tin-foil wrapped around nails

The tin-foil method isn’t only popular at home but also in salons. It is an effective way to remove gel polish from acrylic nails but is quite time-consuming. It would help if you used non-acetone remover instead of acetone. Acetone is damaging to acrylic nails. We don’t suggest using acetone to remove gel polish from acrylic nails.

Here’s what you need for the tin-foil method:

  • Tin Foil Wrap
  • Cotton Balls
  • Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover
  • Nail File

1. Prepare the Tin-Foil Wraps

Cut the tin foil into small squares. Cut them according to your fingernails. They should easily wrap around your fingers and nails.

Add non-acetone nail polish remover to a bowl. Soak cotton balls in the bowl. 

2. File the Nails (recommended)

Use a nail file to remove the top coat from the gel polish. The top coat of gel polish keeps the gel polish intact for a longer time. It protects the gel polish from chipping off. You can learn more about why gel polish needs a top coat to know how it works.

So, if you directly use the tin-foil method without removing the top coat, it will take a lot of time to work. This will help the nail polish remover to directly target the gel polish and take less time to remove it. 

You can lay the nail file flat on your nails. Put a little pressure on the file with your thumb and start buffing. Move it around the nail and repeat this step until the shine of the gel polish is gone.

3. Place the Tin-Foil On the Nails

Place your nails on a table so the tin-foil set-up doesn’t fall off the nails. Put the soaked cotton balls on your nails. Make sure you don’t leave any area uncovered.

Cover the cotton with tin foil and tightly wrap it around your nails. Tight wrapping is important so that the nail polish remover keeps touching the gel polish. Don’t move around your hands much and keep on pressing the tin foil to make sure the nail polish remover is doing its work. 

Let the cotton balls and tin foil sit on your nails for 30 minutes.

4. Remove the Tin-Foil

After 30 minutes, remove the tin foil wrap from your nails. Before removing cotton balls from the nails, rub them on the nails back and forth. It will remove any leftover gel polish from the acrylics. 

If there’s still leftover gel polish on the bails, you can remove it by using a cuticle pusher. The tool will remove the gel polish from the wet surface of acrylics easily.

removing gel polish with a cuticle pusher

Step #5: Wipe the Nails Clean

Wipe the nails with baby wipes or a wet cloth to get rid of leftover nail polish remover from the surface.

Which Method Is the Best For Removing Gel Polish From Acrylic Nails?

Should you remove gel polish from acrylic nails with a nail file, e-file, or tin foil? This is a question that would come to your mind after going through the different methods of removing gel polish. 

The easiest method to remove gel polish from acrylic nails is the tin-foil method. You don’t have to put much effort into this method. However, it is time-consuming because you can only use non-acetone remover. Non-acetone remover works slowly on gel polish.

Using a nail file to remove gel polish is quick. It also requires the least amount of products. However, this method requires continuous buffing which can be tiring if you remove the gel polish from all 10 nails.

An e-file requires less effort but not everyone has this tool available. E-file also requires skills to use it otherwise it can damage both acrylics and your natural nails. If you have experience using an e-file, it would be the quickest and easiest method for you to remove gel polish from acrylic nails. 

Final Thoughts

You have learned all about the famous methods on how to remove gel polish from acrylic nails. Now you can easily remove gel polish from your nails and repaint them. Never use acetone on acrylic nails as it dissolves the acrylics and ruins them. The best method is to use an electric nail file, as it is quick and easy.