How to Remove Gel Polish from Acrylic Nails: Step by Step Guide

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

In this article I am going to explain to you how you can safely remove your gel polish without damaging your acrylics. Ultimately you will not only save the health of your natural nails underneath, but also save a lot of money on not having to get more acrylics!

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Table of Contents

how to remove gel polish from acrylic nails

A Quick Intro On Nails: Gel and Acrylics

When it comes to getting a manicure, there are so many different options to get. You can get a simple manicure with no color, you can get a manicure with polish, you can get a gel manicure, often known as a shellac manicure, or you can get acrylics – often done as an extension for those who desire a longer look. 

One of the trickiest parts about gel and acrylics is the removal.

Often a salon will charge you extra for this process and if you are doing it from home then it can be very challenging. The most challenging part of removal is that it can completely destroy your nails if it is not done properly.

With acrylics, it is important to remove the gel without damaging the acrylics underneath, otherwise you will lose the acrylic, but may also weaken your natural nail a lot.

What Is Gel Polish?

Gel polish is a type of polish that is made up of acrylic monomers and oligomers that become bonded together when placed under a UV or LED nail lamp. This is known as curing and it is what made the liquid gel become hard and resistant – making it a very popular form of manicure.

Gel polish often stays on nails for up to three to four weeks, making it a lot more durable and long-lasting than regular polish. It chips a lot less easily and so it is often a preference for those who like to have their nails done regularly.

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What Are Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails are a combination of powder and a liquid glue that are combined together to create a paste. This paste is then applied to the nail using a brush and then dries. From here, it can be used to add length or to reshape your natural nails underneath.

These can be very durable, but can also be very damaging to your natural nail if they are not removed properly.

Acetone is the best way to remove acrylics, however you can also file them down until you reach your natural nails.

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How Do You Get Gel Nail Polish off Acrylics Without Ruining Them?

Acetone remover is usually most effective for how to remove gel nail polish. However, because acrylics can also be removed using acetone, it means that you should avoid using acetone to remove the gel polish if you plan to keep the acrylics.

How to take nail polish off acrylic nails without ruining them can be done using various methods.

You can use an acetone-free nail polish remover which will help remove the polish but will not target the acrylics. Simply follow these steps on how to remove gel polish with nail polish remover:

  • Take a cotton ball and moisten it with your remover. This should be enough that the cotton ball is beginning to drip. This will avoid any stickiness and ensure your nail is coated in the remover, making removal much easier.
  • Attach the cotton ball to your nail. Once you have applied the cotton ball to your nail and the entire nail is covered, use aluminum foil to wrap around the finger and hold the cotton in place.
  • Allow this to soak. Give your nails about ten to fifteen minutes to soak.
  • Use a nail polish peeler to gently scrape the polish off. Do not apply to much pressure, but remove as much of the polish as possible using your tool.
  • File down any remaining polish until you are left with the acrylic. Moisturize your nails using a nail oil and allow them to rest before applying new polish.

How to Change Gel Polish on Acrylic Nails

Once you have followed the above steps, you can prep your nails and the acrylics and repaint them with your new desired color. It is a good idea to allow some nail care in between colors so that your nails remain strengthened.

Simply buff any remains of the polish off with a nail buffer, apply some nail oil, allow this to soak in and then wash your nails ready to start the repaint.

Using Tools

How to Remove Gel Polish Using a File

If the above method does not work and you still do not want to risk using an acetone remover, you can simply use a file to buff the polish down. This can also be used to remove the acrylics when desired but can be a very long process.

The benefits of this process is that it allows you to determine when you have removed enough polish and are happy to repaint. You will need a coarse grit nail file for this process as the polish can be quite tough to remove.

Whilst filing down the polish, ensure you are removing the dust by either blowing it or using a nail dust brush so that you can see how much you have filed off, as you do not want to end up damaging the acrylic or the natural nail.

Once you have filed the gel off, it is important to, again, ensure you moisturize your nails and provide some care to them before applying anymore paint or product to your nails.

How to Remove Gel Polish From Acrylic Nails With a Drill

Alternatively, and what you will likely have done if you go to a salon for your removal, is you can use a nail drill to drill down the polish. This can be slightly riskier if you are not experienced, as drills can file down the polish a lot quicker and so it is much easier to hit the acrylic or the natural nail before you realize.

These simply work like a file, but the electric drill does the job a lot quicker and with a lot less energy needed from yourself.

It is important to continue removing the dust and to make sure you do not hit the acrylic. A good idea, if you are worried, is to use the drill to remove the majority of the polish and to then move onto a file so that you have more control over what is being taken off.

How to Remove Gel Polish From Acrylic Nails – Final Thoughts

Removing gel polish from acrylic nails can seem daunting at the beginning but becomes easier the more you do it.

Using an acetone-free remover is the safest option, but sometimes this cannot be strong enough to remove the gel.

Alternatively, you can use a number of methods to file down the polish.

Once you have removed the gel, be sure to maintain some nail care and prep your nails ready for anymore painting.

It is a good idea to let your nails breathe from time to time, so avoiding acrylics all of the time can be a great way to maintain healthy natural nails! Removing gel from natural nails is a lot easier as you are able to use acetone to help.

If you are worried at all about ruining the acrylics, most salons will always offer a removal service and so even if you visit a salon for the first couple of times and ask them for some tips then many nial artists will be more than happy to help!

Whatever you do, don’t rush it and don’t pick it off! Long nails can be wonderfully fun and open up a world of creative design so make sure you follow these steps to maintain your nails the best that you can!


How to remove gel polish without removing acrylic nails?

There are a number of ways to remove gel polish without removing acrylics. Using the correct remover or filing the polish down are the most effective methods.

Can you take gel nail polish off acrylics?

You can take gel nail polish off acrylics using various methods. Buffing the polish down with a file or using an acetone-free remover are two of the most effective ways.

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