How To Remove Glue on Nails Without Acetone

Press-on nails are convenient and glamorous, especially for people who have trouble keeping their own nails long. Thanks to acrylics, even the most hopeless nail biter can rock a matte black stiletto or glittery pink squoval nail.

Once it comes time to swap out your manicure, though, it can be painful and frustrating to remove glue from nails without acetone.


Why Not Use Acetone to Remove Glue On Nails?


Acetone is a solvent that efficiently dissolves the chemicals in nail polish and nail glue. It’s the most effective tool for the job, but unfortunately, it can take its toll on your natural nail.

When used too often or on weak nails, acetone dries out the nail bed, cuticle, and skin. Overuse can lead to brittleness, irritation, and flaking on the affected fingers.

Many press-on nail fans take breaks from the harsh chemical to give their fingers time to recover from the damage. The consequence is that they then face how to remove glue on nails without acetone.

In other instances, acetone isn’t an option because it can dissolve reusable press-on nails, removing the designs and warping the shape of the nail.

If you’re dealing with either of those situations, fear not! There’s a safe, non-damaging way to get rid of annoying nail glue, and you probably have everything you need in your kitchen right now.

With a bit of patience and the right supplies, you can spare your nails from an acetone soak.

Related: How To Make Fake Nails At Home


How to Remove Glue On Nails Without Acetone

Ladies who love glue on nails know that they should avoid exposure to water as much as possible. That’s because warm water and soap can dissolve the glue bonds prematurely. Luckily, that also means it’s an effective alternative to traditional removal methods.

Materials You’ll Need

First, you’ll want to gather everything you need, including:

  • A large bowl
  • Warm water
  • Hand soap
  • An orange stick with a pointed and flat end
  • A nail buffer
  • Something to watch or listen to while you soak. This method might take a while.


Step 1:

warm water with hand soap

Fill a large bowl with comfortably warm water and a few drops of hand soap. Don’t make the water too warm, or you won’t be able to keep your nails submerged as long as necessary.

On the other hand, if it’s not warm enough, it won’t be as effective at dissolving the glue.


Step 2:

Press play on your favorite album, podcast, or TV show. Your hands are going to be busy for the next 25-30 minutes.


Step 3:

dipping fingers into warm water

Dip all of your fingers into the warm water, ensuring that each nail is completely submerged. Re-warm the water if it cools off too much during the soaking time.

After 15 minutes, the glue should have started to soften, and the press-on should have areas that have lifted off your natural nail.


Step 4:

using orange stick to remove glue from nails

Using your orange stick, very gently insert the flat end underneath the fake nail. Next, work the orange stick deeper between the glue-on and the natural nail, slowly prying upwards.

If you notice the nail won’t come up easily or it’s painful when you pry on it, resoak your hand for a few more minutes to further break the bonds.


Step 5:

nail buffing

Once you’ve completely removed the press-on, use a 1,000 to 4,000 grit buffer to buff away any remaining glue manually. Continue to work slowly, monitoring your nails for any pain, flaking, or other signs of damage.

Related: How to Make Nail Glue


Step 6:

cleaning nail with cotton

If you have any glue residue left on your nails after buffing them out, you can either let it flake off naturally or use a little bit of acetone-soaked cotton to get rid of it quickly.


Step 7:

nail care

Whether you used acetone in this process or not, your nails still need some TLC after you’ve removed your press-on nails.

As soon as you’re done, it would be best if you rehydrate your nails, cuticles, and hands to help them restore any lost moisture. Apply a dab of cuticle oil to each finger, gently massaging it into the skin at the bottom of your nails.

Then, choose your favorite lotion and rub it over both of your hands, paying particular attention to especially dry areas.


A Final Word of Warning

Tugging on your fake nails before they’re ready to come off can cause severe harm to the natural nails underneath, leaving them weak and unsightly.

In the worst-case scenario, you may even accidentally tear your natural nail away from the nail bed, which is incredibly painful. If the damage is bad enough, it can prevent your nail from growing correctly or even cause an infection.

If you got impatient and did some damage, skip the press-on nails and polish to give your nails time to breathe. Reapplying products prevents environmental moisture from penetrating the nail, drying it out further.

This slows down the healing process and can even cause more pain if the nail is so thin that the chemicals soak into the tender nail bed below.

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