If you’ve ever worn fake nails, you know how tricky it can be to remove the nail glue when it’s time to take them off. Trying to pry off rock-hard acrylic or press-on nails caked in glue can be painful and damage your natural nails. With the right technique, getting nail glue residue off fake nails doesn’t have to be a dreaded process.
In this article, I’ll walk through several methods you can use to easily dissolve nail glue and remove it from fake nails. With a little patience and the proper products, you can get every last bit of sticky adhesive off without frustration. I’ll cover handy home remedies like warm water and olive oil, along with heavy-duty solvents like acetone.
Soak Nails in Warm Water
One of the simplest ways to loosen nail glue on fake nails is with some good old warm water. The heat helps soften the nail adhesive, making it easier to slowly dissolve.
Fill a small bowl with warm water and add a drop of mild soap. The soap helps further break down the glue’s grip. Submerge your nails in the water, making sure they are completely covered.
Let your nails soak for 5-10 minutes, gently rubbing and wiggling them around in the water periodically. This agitation along with the heat and soap should start loosening the hardened glue.
If needed, grab a soft washcloth and very gently scrub at the glue remnants while nails are still soaking. Take care not to tug or peel at your nails. The glue should slowly ball up and wipe away with gentle pressure.
Repeat the soaking and scrubbing process until all traces of residual nail glue have been removed from the fake nails. Your hands will love the pampering soak!
Use Acetone to Dissolve Glue
One of the most effective solvents for breaking down nail glue is good old acetone, the primary ingredient in nail polish remover. It’s potent enough to dissolve the adhesive bond.
Be sure to use 100% pure acetone instead of nail polish remover, which contains less concentrated amounts of acetone. You can find bottles of pure acetone at any drugstore or beauty supply shop.
Start by soaking a cotton ball in the acetone until it’s fully saturated. Place it directly onto the nail glue residue and hold for 30 seconds up to 1 minute. Slowly move the cotton ball around to cover all areas still sticky with glue. The acetone will work to dissolve the adhesive.
You can also try soaking your fake nails directly in a bowl of acetone if the glue is being especially stubborn. Let them soak for up to 10 minutes, gently wiggling and rubbing the nails around. The concentrated acetone will cling to the adhesive and break it down with time.
Just make sure to not get any acetone on your skin or other surfaces, as it can dry out skin and damage materials. Nail glue doesn’t stand a chance against this powerful solvent though!
Gently File and Buff Away Glue
After using a soak method to loosen nail glue, take a nail file or buffer and gently remove any remaining residue. Filing and buffing it away takes off the last thin layer of adhesive that may still be clinging on post-soak.
Use light, short strokes to file down any nail glue remnants on the surface of fake nails. Try using a more coarse file first to remove bulk residue. Then switch to a finer grit buffer for the final smoothing.
Work carefully and slowly during this step – you don’t want to over-file the surface of your nails! Stop once all traces of glue have been removed with the file and buffer. Your nails will be back to smooth and polished perfection.
Apply Olive Oil to Break Down Glue
This kitchen staple isn’t just for cooking! Olive oil can actually be used to help dissolve stubborn nail glue thanks to its oil-based properties. Who knew?!
Pour a small amount of olive oil onto a cotton ball or paper towel. Brush the oil directly over sticky nail glue residue on your fake nails. Make sure to coat the glue fully.
Allow the oil to sit for about 10 minutes to give the ingredients time to break down the adhesive. Then take a soft toothbrush, orange stick, or cloth and gently scrub at the glue to remove. The oil helps weaken the bond and make scrubbing easier.
You may need to apply and soak the oil a few times to fully dissolve all the nail glue. But olive oil is an effective and conditioning way to loosen glue without harsh chemicals. Give it a try next time glue is giving you trouble!
Avoid Picking and Pulling Nails
I know the temptation can be strong when you see nail glue remnants still stuck under your fake nails. But picking and pulling at the adhesive with your fingers or sharp tools can cause serious damage to your natural nails underneath.
Try to resist the urge to pick and peel – it usually just results in an uneven, painful mess. The methods above are much more effective for slow, steady glue removal instead of force.
File an orange stick into a point or purchase a specialty cuticle pusher if you need something to gently nudge and scrape at the nail glue. Just avoid digging in too harshly with metal tools that can scratch your nails.
Moisturize Nails After Removing Glue
Once you’ve finally removed all remnants of stubborn nail glue, your nails and skin could likely use some TLC.
Look for a rich moisturizing cream or oil to massage into nails, cuticles, and surrounding skin. The nail glue removal process can cause dryness, so bring back moisture. Shea butter, coconut oil, and petroleum jelly are all great options.
You can also apply a hydrating overnight mask onto nails to deeply nourish them as you sleep. It’s the perfect end to your at-home manicure.
Can Nail Glue Be Removed at Salons?
If dealing with nail glue removal at home sounds like too much of a hassle, you may be wondering if salons can professionally remove glued-on fake nails instead.
The answer is yes – nail salons have products specifically for fake nail removal that can dissolve glue in minutes. Most salons offer soak-off gel polish that gently breaks down nail glue.
They submerge nails in the solution until the glue is fully removed. The chemicals are stronger than home methods but don’t damage nails. It makes for easy, painless nail glue removal.
Just know that you will likely pay an extra fee for fake nail removal services. But the convenience and guaranteed results may be worth it!
Avoid These Removal Methods
After rounds of experimenting, I’ve found these nail glue removal methods don’t work well and should be avoided:
- Peeling or picking off fake nails – can pull off natural nail layers
- Scraping glue with metal tools – too harsh on nails
- Using hot water – can weaken and damage nails
- Rubbing with alcohol – not strong enough to dissolve glue
Stick to gentler solvents like warm water and acetone for safe, effective nail glue removal. Don’t risk hurting your natural nails trying to get those fake nails off!
How to Prevent Excess Glue and Damage
The best way to avoid the nail glue removal struggle is to take steps when applying fake nails to prevent over-gluing. Here are some tips:
- Apply a thin layer of glue – don’t glob it on
- Avoid getting glue on skin or cuticles
- Apply nails correctly to avoid seepage
- Gently file nails once applied to remove excess glue
- Use nail glue remover pads for easy cleanup
Taking precautions allows clean fake nail removal later on. Don’t skimp on glue during application – you’ll regret it later!
Removing every last bit of stubborn nail glue from fake nails can feel daunting. With the proper techniques and products, the process can be simple and painless.
- Soak nails in warm water – the heat loosens glue’s grip
- Use concentrated acetone to dissolve glue
- Gently file and buff away glue residue
- Apply olive oil onto nails to help break down glue
- Avoid picking and over-scrubbing nails
With some patience and TLC, your nails will be back to a fresh, glue-free state. Just be sure to prevent excess glue when applying fake nails in the first place. Happy soaking and filing!
Sophia Rodriguez is the creative force behind IGXO Cosmetics, a popular beauty blog and brand. As a long-time makeup artist and beauty industry insider, Sophia realized there was a lack of authentic, relatable content for the everyday woman. This inspired her to launch IGXO Cosmetics in 2018 as a platform to share her passion for beauty.