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How To Remove Fake Nails at Home While DFW Salons Are Closed

Local expert Patricia Ezell spills on how to stay manicured at home during the shutdown.
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If you received a manicure using dip, gel, or acrylic last month before nail salons were shuttered, you’re likely in desperate need of some tips right about now–no pun intended. All three of these long-lasting manicure mediums require a visit to your nail tech for removal, a luxury that’s not available during the current pandemic.

What you do not want to do is rip off a fake nail–it’s going to take some of your real nail with it. The technique for safe, comfortable removal varies a bit depending on what kind of manicure you have. In any case, you’ll need lots of acetone and patience. 


The closer to 100 percent the solution is, the faster the removal process will go. Non-acetone nail polish remover will also work, but it will take much longer to break down the artificial nails. 

It’s a little hard to find 100 percent acetone nail polish remover in grocery stores right now. We recommend checking the stock at your local Target or Walmart online and doing an order pickup. Sally Beauty also stocks acetone; all stores are closed, but you can order online.

Removing a Gel Manicure

Taking off a gel manicure is pretty simple. Gently remove the top layer with a file or buffing tool, and then soak your hands in acetone until the gel melts and separates from the nails, at which point you can scrape it off with a tool and buff your natural nails to get rid of residue. Patricia Ezell, founder of Nail Art by MsPattyCake, provided a step-by-step guide for at-home removal on Instagram TV

Ezell says that this method also works to remove dip and acrylic manicures, though extra soaking time is required. 

Removing a Dip Manicure

Taking off dip is a little more complicated and time-consuming than removing gel, but it’s not all too different. Verbena Parlor + Social House also posted an IG TV video showing how to remove dip–which is thicker and harder than gel–at home. The salon has DIY dip removal kits available for purchase online as well

Removing Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are where things get really tricky. It’s going to take a long time to get those off at home. I recommend looking at this wikiHow page or this Elle tutorial for detailed instructions. 


I type this with four, sad, filed-down fake nails still clinging to my dried-out-from-sanitizer hands. Ms. Patty’s advice came to me too late, after I’d already torn off six fake nails–and much of my real nails with them. Perhaps you’re in the same boat. So, what do we do now that we’ve maimed our nails?

“My first go-to is you want to be on biotin or some sort of vitamin [that promotes hair and nail growth],” says Ezell. “And then, if you can, get cuticle oil and give yourself a little mini self-care treatment.” She recommends using oils and hand creams liberally while you’re taking a break from manicures. 

The author’s hands on March 15 and the author’s hands on April 8. It’s been a rough few weeks.

If you’re going to be painting your nails after they’re back in shape, don’t forget one crucial step: “My issue with people doing manicures is they always forget to put on a base coat. So, as long as people put a base coat, two coats of polish, and a top coat,” you’re back in business, says Ezell. 

And, hopefully, at some point soon, these artists and salons will be back in business, too. Until then, give them a follow for at-home beauty tips.

@mspattycake / @verbenaparlor@rosecouturenailbar

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