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How to: Properly Soak Off Nail Enhancements at Home

In part 1 of removing nail enhancements at home, we will explore the soak off method. Why is this so important to note?

Most people rip or peel off their nail enhancements at home, but few realize this is not the proper or safe way to remove them. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why so many people experience thin, weak nails that break easily after removing their enhancements.

Even if you don't have the time or money to have your enhancements removed at a salon, it is still important to know how to remove the product safely.

There are two main methods to remove nail enhancements:

  1. The Soak Off Method

  2. The File Off Method

Acrylic, Polygel, Soft Gels (including gel polish) can all be soaked off in acetone. All of these can be filed off as well.

Hard Gel cannot be soaked off and MUST be filed off.

Products Needed To Soak Off Acrylic, Polygel or Soft Gel Nail Enhancements:

100% pure acetone

Cotton balls

Foil cut into squares

A cushioned nail file (preferably 100/180 grit)

An orange wood stick or cuticle pusher

Cuticle oil and lotion

Buffing block (optional)

A little bit of time and patience

  1. Begin by buffing the shine off your enhancement with the nail file.

  2. If you have extensions and want them shorter, use toe nail clippers to remove the extra length before soaking to save time and energy.

  3. Take a cotton ball and soak it in acetone. Place on top of the fingernail.

  4. Take a piece of foil and wrap tightly around cotton and finger. Make sure the cotton stays on top of the nail.

  5. Repeat to all the nails.

  6. Put a show or movie on and DO NOT touch your nails for at least 30 minutes.

  7. Now, take the foil and cotton off the FIRST nail you started with. Use your orange wood stick or cuticle pusher to gently scrape the softened product away from the nail plate. Repeat this on all ten nails, removing one foil at a time.

  8. After all nails are free of product, use the 180 (the smoother) grit side of your file to GENTLY buff the surface of the nail to remove any tidbits of products and smooth out the nail surface. Then refine your free edge.

  9. At this point you can also apply a dot of cuticle oil to the nail plate and use your buffing block to refine the surface of the nail even more, making it nice and shiny.

  10. Wash your hands. Then apply cuticle oil and lotion.


If step 7 is difficult or you have to use any force at all, then wrap another piece of cotton soaked in acetone and leave it on the nail for another 10 minutes until the product has completely softened.

Proceed to the next finger, repeating this process. Do one finger at a time so the product does not re-harden or dry out before you can scrape it off.

This is how to safely and effectively remove nail enhancements using the soak off method. I hope you enjoy this educational content and please reach out if there are any other topics you would like to learn about.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily nail inspiration and thank you for your support!

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