Acrylic Nails

How Long Do You Soak Acrylic Nails in Acetone?

How Long Do You Soak Acrylic Nails in Acetone

Acrylic nails are enviable due to their durability and beauty. Unfortunately, acrylic eventually gives in, and the nails must be removed. Other times, the removal is just a matter of choice. Acetone is known to be an easy DIY fix for nail removal, but how long should the nails be soaked in acetone?

Acrylic nails should be soaked in acetone for 30 minutes. This time is adequate for the acetone to dissolve the acrylic glue and soften the acrylic for easier removal. However, you must be careful since acetone can burn finger tissue and irritate the cuticles, damaging your natural nail.

In the rest of the article, I will take you through the steps of safely using acetone to remove your nails. I will explain two safe acetone application techniques that guarantee the best results with minimal risk of damage to either the nails or finger tissue.

How Long Does It Take Acetone to Dissolve Acrylic?

For the best results, soak your nails in 100% pure acetone for 30 minutes. I recommend Pronto 100% Pure Acetone (link to Amazon). Pronto 100% Pure Acetone is a fast, professional nail polish remover that removes natural and artificial nails. It is especially effective on gels and acrylic nails. This product was made in the USA, so you know it’s high-quality.

You can use two techniques to apply acetone to your nails for the safe removal of acrylic nails, and I explore them below.

Recommended Reading: How to Remove Acrylic Nails at Home – 4 Tips & Tricks

Removing Acrylic Nails at Home Using Acetone

Technique 1: The Bowl Method

Jin Cho Soi, a New York-based celebrity manicurist, offers some safety tips for acetone use at home (source). Choi notes that acetone is extremely flammable and should be handled with care. She suggests putting out flames in the room where the mini-home salon is set up. She also warns of acetone sensitivity, where some people experience sensory irritation on acetone exposure.

Jin Cho Soi, however, notes that even for people without acetone sensitivity, some caution is necessary. She warns that prolonged careless use of acetone will damage the cuticle, natural nail, or finger tissue (source).

Below is a YouTube video explaining how to remove gel nails. In the video, Miss Pop explains the steps to remove gel nails using acetone-based products. She warns that it’s important to wear protective gloves, avoid inhaling the fumes and wash hands immediately after use.

In the bowl method of removing acrylic nails using acetone, Choi recommends the following steps:

1. Trim the Nail Extensions

Before immersing the nails in acetone, the acrylics should first be cut down. Trimming the nails makes the other steps easier and faster. You can use a nail clipper to trim the acrylic nail down to the natural nail level.

2. File the Acrylic

Filing the nails to remove the top layers reduces their bulk, making acetone penetration easier. Choi recommends starting with a coarse nail file to remove the outermost layer of the acrylic nails. A fine file should be used, as the acrylic nail thins down to ensure that the natural nail is not filed too much.

Coarse files have a rougher texture than the typical file you use to shape your nails. Choi recommends filing perpendicularly to the nail bed in long, gentle strokes for best results. Keep at it until the shine of the acrylic nail polish is completely gone. Do not use force, for this undermines the nail bed.

If you are in the market for coarse nail files, I recommend Nail File 10 PCS Professional (link to Amazon). They are a professional set of 100/180 grit emery boards. They are double-sided, so they can work on both your nails and feet! Made with durable, high-quality plastic, these nail files will last longer than most and have gentler action with no metal shavings.

3. Apply Petroleum Jelly to Protect the Skin

Acetone soaks plastics and can harm your natural nails, nail cuticles, and even the skin (source). Apply petroleum jelly on all tissue surrounding your nails. Take care not to apply the petroleum jelly on your nails because this would prevent the acetone from reaching the bottom of the acrylic. A cotton-tipped wooden applicator is ideal for the application. Again, do not use too much jelly, as it may contaminate the acetone.

4. Soak in Acetone Bowl

After the nails are trimmed, properly filed, and protective jelly applied, it is time to soak them in acetone. Pure acetone delivers better results because impurities in contaminated acetone can damage your natural nails. To establish whether your acetone is pure, you can conduct the simple acetone purity test described in Nails Mag (source).

  • Pour about 5 fl. oz (about 150) ml of pure acetone into a shallow bowl.
  • Heat it gently for the best results. The best heating option is running the acetone container under warm faucet water before pouring it into the bowl. The temperatures hasten the dissolution process.
  • Then soak your trimmed and filed nails in this shallow bowl for 30 minutes. Choi notes that the acetone softens the acrylic and the acrylic adhesive.
  • Check the nails after 30 minutes; the acrylic should have softened.
  • Use a fine-grit nail file to remove the acrylic. If some material still cannot be buffed, re-soak the nails in acetone for 5 more minutes and try again.

5. Wash Hands and Hydrate

The final step is washing your hands with adequate water and soap and rehydrating them. Washing removes any acetone residues from hands. Sally Hansen, the brand ambassador for Hannah Lee, recommends hydrating the nails and fingers since acetone is very drying for skin and nails (source).

Apply cuticle oil on the nails, cuticle, and all surfaces that come into contact with acetone once a day. Cuticle oil strengthens the nail bed and restores hydration. If you find the fingers too dry, apply them twice daily.

I recommend the Cuccio Naturale Revitalizing Cuticle Oil (link to Amazon). Cuccio Naturale Revitalizing Cuticle Oil is a formula designed to replenish and completely hydrate the tips of your fingers while treating the skin around them. This all-natural organic oil can nourish nails and cuticles overnight or over time.

Recommended Reading: What Do You Need to Do Acrylic Nails?

Technique 2: The Foil Soak Technique

This technique is most appropriate if you want to limit your contact with acetone. The technique applies acetone directly to the nails.

1. Trim and File

The trim and file procedures remain with the first technique recommended by Jin Cho Soi.

2. Soak the Nails

Instead of immersing the entire hand in an acetone bowl, this technique utilizes cotton balls soaked in acetone.

  • Start by soaking the cotton balls in acetone until they are completely drenched.
  • Then, place these drenched cotton balls directly on top of your nail.
  • Finally, wrap the finger in tin foil with the cotton ball placed well on top of the nail. Make sure the nail is tightly sealed to maximize contact with acetone.
  • Wait for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the tin foil and buff any leftovers. In case of some stubborn leftover acrylic material, re-soak your finger in the tin foil for 5 minutes.
  • Wash and hydrate your nails.

Final Thoughts

Acetone soaks have been effectively used to remove acrylic nails at home. Either technique discussed above will deliver good results if applied effectively. Always remember that acetone can harm your natural nails and finger tissue, so take precautions.

Apply petroleum jelly on the skin around the nail before the procedure and wash it after. Don’t forget to rehydrate using cuticle oil. Finally, be wary of contaminated acetone because the impurities can stick to your natural nails leaving ugly marks.

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