How to Remove Shellac Nails

The beauty of shellac nail polish if of course how long it lasts and continues looking the part. However, should you wish to remove shellac nails before they wear away on their own, you need to be aware of the technique for doing this at home. You’ll need a few basic supplies including acetone, but with a little advice the process doesn’t need to be difficult, expensive or damaging to your nails.

How to Remove Shellac Nails


Method 1: Soaking

The soaking method is 100% for you and your nails if performed with care.

1. Apply Cuticle Oil

The first element in the process is to apply a liberal dose of cuticle oil to the skin surrounding the nails, being sure to leave any excess that remains. A good product will protect your skin against the acetone you will be using, creating a barrier to ensure your skin isn’t harmed during the process.

2. Prepare Acetone

Next, you need to prepare the acetone by pouring it into a suitable dish or bowl. You’ll need about 1.25cm of the stuff and need to make sure you can fit your hand into the bowl when making a loose fist shape. Any acetone-based nail polish remover will work if it has a concentration of at least 60%, but pure acetone works best.

3. Soak the Nails in Acetone


With the acetone in place, you now need to form the shape of a ball with your hand so that all of your nails are exposed. Then, carefully place your nails into the acetone, making as much effort as possible not to expose your skin to the liquid. Make sure you keep your nails in the acetone for a full 10 minutes, even if the shellac begins coming loose or falling off in the meantime.

4. Scrape the Shellac Off


When you’re nails have been soaking for ten minutes, take your hand out of the bowl and begin scraping off the shellac using and approved manicure stick. If you like, you can always begin scraping off the shellac while your nails are still in the acetone at about the 8-minute mark.

5. Wash Your Hands

As soon as you’ve scraped away all of the shellac, wash your hands and nails thoroughly with warm water and soap. This is usually enough to get rid of any remaining residue.

6. Moisturize Your Nails

Use a high-quality moisturizer for your skin and nails, being sure to apply extra to any areas dried out by the acetone. It is impossible to avoid certain areas of the skin being sometime severely dehydrated by stronger acetone solutions, so avoid exposure as much as possible.

Method 2: Wrapping

The alternative to the soaking method is wrapping, which requires a couple more supplies but can be just as effective. In fact, the wrapping method also promotes freedom of movement while waiting for the acetone to do its job, so could be the better method for those on the go.

1. Cut Cotton Pads and Aluminum Foil

The first step is to take a series of cotton pads and cut them into squares just large enough to cover your nails without going onto the skin. In addition, cut ten squares of aluminum foil of about 3-inches each, or however big they need to be to wrap your fingers.

2. Apply Cuticle Oil

Like the above method, it’s important to apply a liberal dose of cuticle oil to create a protective barrier for the skin around the nails and prevent excessive drying.

3. Soak Cotton Pads in Acetone

Next, use a nail polish remover with a high concentration of acetone or ideally a pure solution to soak the cotton pads you just cut. Be aware that while stronger acetone solutions will cause drying of the skin, weak or acetone-free products will not remove the shellac.

4. Wrap Cotton Pads and the Foil


Place each soaked cotton pad onto one of the nails on your hand, then wrap the ends of your fingers in the foil in order to hold the pads in place. Make sure to apply a little pressure in order to ensure the pads are in full contact with the nails, but don’t go squeezing too tight and causing leaks or damage.

5. Leave 2-10 Minutes

Refrain from doing anything with the hand being soaked for up to ten minutes. If the acetone solution is pure or strong, the polish will begin peeling away as soon as two minutes after application. But it’s more effective if leaving it on for 10 minutes.

6. Wipe Away the Nail Polish

Much of the shellac should pretty much fall away, but take care of the rest using a manicure stick and gently scraping it off. You could also try using a cotton pad with a little more of the solution to get rid of what’s left gently.

7. Remove the Residue

Use a soft cloth or simple soap and water to get rid of any of the residue left over by the shellac. More often than not, washing your hands with warm water and soap will be enough to finish the job.

8. Moisturize the Nails

And finally, it is inevitable that the use of acetone will cause drying of the skin which in some areas could be quite severe. As such, just as soon as you have finished the process and fully washed your hands, you will need to apply plenty of good quality moisturizer and some nail conditioner to strengthen and protect your nails.

Here is a video that can guide you to remove shellac nails at home: