Wondering how to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails without damaging the extensions or removing them together with the polish?
Here’s a no-nonsense guide on how to do it quickly, easily, and without ruining your acrylic nails.
Gel nail polish on acrylic nails
Acrylic nails are strong, durable, and gorgeous. And if you want to create a bright and beautiful nail design on your acrylic nails or create colorful nail extensions but don’t have a wide array of acrylic powders you can use gel nail polish.
One of the best things about acrylic nails is how easy it is to apply gel nail polish to acrylic nail extensions.
You can create a countless number of nail designs over your acrylic nails using gel nail polish.
Gel polish goes on really well and stays for a very long time.
You can wear it on your nail extensions for weeks without chipping or peeling.
It’s even easier to apply it to artificial nails than to natural nails.
There’s no need to use the base coat on artificial material.
Gel polish adheres to it a lot better than to the natural nail plate.
Another great thing about your acrylic nails is that you don’t have to remove and rebuild the extensions to create a new design on them.
You can just remove gel nail polish from your acrylic nails and repaint them.
You may want to remove gel nail polish to use a new polish color just because you’re tired of wearing the same shade for weeks on end since gel nail polish stays on so well.
The gel polish removal process doesn’t damage your natural nails because they are protected by the acrylic overlay.
However, the removal process may be tricky for a beginner.
Acrylic nails can get ruined if you do it improperly.
What’s the way to do it right?
Here is a full guide on how to remove gel polish from acrylic nails.
Let’s dive right in!
The best way to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails: file it off with a nail drill
The easiest way to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails is to simply file it off.
And the best and fastest way to do this properly is by using a nail drill.
This is the tool that professional nail technicians use for removing gel nail polish off acrylic and often off natural nails.
A nail drill will let you do a precise and neat job.
Plus, it’s a lot easier and quicker to do this with a nail drill than with a nail file.
An E-file gives you a lot more control than an ordinary emery board.
You can get a nice smooth surface ready for gel polish re-application in no time.
The drill will do all the filing and buffing.
No need to move a file back and forth like you have to do with an emery board.
So your hand won’t get tired.
The nail drill method is safe and easy.
Even if you’re not too experienced it’s not hard to learn how to do it.
It’s not rocket science after all.
No need to go to a salon when you can perfectly do it at home if you get a high-quality unit and nail drill bits.
Besides, even if you’re afraid to remove gel polish from natural nails with a nail drill there’s nothing to be afraid of with acrylic nails.
This method is completely safe for your natural nails because they are protected by a strong acrylic overlay.
So removing gel polish from acrylic nails with a nail drill is safer and easier than taking it off natural nails with a drill.
You won’t be able to dig into your natural nail plate or damage it.
And if you cut an acrylic nail you can always add a bit of material to fix it.
What nail drill should I get?
I recommend getting a nice professional-level unit.
You can get a tabletop or a portable nail drill.
Just make sure it’s a high-quality one.
That means the drill should have enough power and speed for working with artificial nails.
The speed that’s necessary to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails should be above 10,000 RPM.
You can invest in a powerful, 30,000-40,000 RPM unit that will allow you to file acrylic nail extensions too.
The nail drill should also have good torque and no vibrations or noise when it’s working.
So you’ll feel no discomfort while using it.
Also, pay attention to the forward/reverse settings.
For example, you may need to turn the reverse setting on if you are left-handed.
Another thing you should pay attention to is the handpiece.
It should be convenient enough for you to hold.
It also has to have a nice twist-lock chuck for changing the drill bits easily.
The chuck should hold the bit firmly to prevent it from wobbling.
MelodySusie Professional Rechargeable 30000 RPM Nail Drill
MelodySusie makes a very good, powerful, compact, and portable unit that will allow you to work with acrylic nails and gel nail polishes at home.
The best nail drill bit for removing gel nail polish from acrylic nails
Ceramic bits are the best ones for filing gel nail polish off.
These bits remove it quickly and efficiently.
Plus, they don’t heat up or get clogged.
You can select any shape that you are comfortable with.
The best ones are barrel (cylinder) or cone bits.
The bits’ color codes mean their coarseness levels.
The blue means the medium grit, the red color is the fine grit, and the green means the coarse grit.
Choose a blue or a green one. They have enough coarseness to work with gel nail polish.
Don’t use a red bit. It would be too soft for filing gel polish.
Makartt Safety Nail Drill Bits Set
Nail Drill RPM
Select any RPM that you’re comfortable with
You can select a higher RPM if you’re experienced and a lower number if you’re a beginner and are afraid to take off too much material.
However, don’t choose a number below 10,000 RPM or the process would be too slow.
Plus, a low speed may make your bit dig too deep.
Avoid pressing down on your nail drill’s handpiece when you’re filing the polish off.
The nail drill bit should glide across the surface of your nail smoothly.
If you press on the handpiece your drill bit will dig into the acrylic nail and will take off extension material together with the polish.
This is why it’s important to keep your hand steady because this lets you use light stroking motions when going over the polish layer.
Don’t remove gel nail polish with no elbow support.
You need a steady hand to do this.
That’s why you should always perform this step while sitting behind a table or a desk.
A manicure table is ideal for that.
In any case, choose a comfortable table that lets you place your elbow on it without straining your back.
Your elbow provides the main support point for your hand that holds the drill’s handpiece and lets you keep your hand steady.
How to use a nail drill to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails?
First, you’ll need to push back the cuticles.
This is necessary for keeping them out of the way.
Then, select the speed that you’re most comfortable with but above 10,000 RPM.
Start moving the drill bit in short stroking motions over the surface of your nails.
Begin the removal process in the middle of your nail.
Then work on each side.
Move the bit from the cuticles towards the free edge.
Avoid touching the cuticles.
Don’t keep the bit in one spot for too long or you’ll take off too much material.
If you feel a heating or a burning sensation turn the speed up and place less pressure on the drill bit.
Don’t be afraid of being too rough, there’s no risk of damage to your natural nail plate.
Continue filing until you get a smooth polish-free surface.
After that, you can re-apply gel nail polish.
You can also use a nail file to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails
If you don’t have a nail drill you can still remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails by filing it off.
Just use a nail file.
This will let you file the gel coating off your nails too.
It may not give you the super-neat results that a nail drill offers.
But you can buff the surface to perfection after filing the polish off, before reapplying gel nail polish.
Nail file material
I recommend using an ordinary emery board nail file that you use for filing and shaping acrylic nails.
Don’t use a metal or a glass nail file.
A metal file is too heavy, rough, and bendy.
Your hand will get tired soon.
And the surface of your nail extensions will be coarse. So you’ll need to spend more time buffing it to smoothness.
A glass nail file is too weak. Filing gel polish will take ages.
Professional nail techs never use glass or metal nail files for anything.
Nail file grit
The emery board that you need to use should have low grit.
Take a 150-180 grit emery board nail file.
Only a low to medium grit nail file can work with an artificial nail material.
A lower grit may take too much acrylic material off together with the polish.
And a high grit nail file is only effective for filing natural nails or for polishing them to a high shine.
It won’t be able to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails.
But a 150-180 grit nail file will do the job quickly and easily.
You can choose any nail file shape you want but the best one, in my opinion, is the half-moon/semicircle shape.
It’s the most convenient shape for holding in your hands.
So your hand won’t get tired and you’ll get a good grip.
Makartt Zebra Nail Files
Makartt makes the right semicircle emery board nail files for removing gel polish or filing natural and acrylic nails.
How to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails with a nail file?
Start with washing and sanitizing your hands and nails.
Soften your cuticles with a cuticle remover and push them back, out of the way.
Take your emery board nail file and start filing the gel nail polish coating off your nail extensions.
Begin with the area near the cuticles.
Avoid touching the skin with the nail file.
Move the file in one direction only, not back in forth.
This gives you more control over the filing process. So you won’t take too much material off or cause an unpleasant heating sensation.
Just like when you’re using a nail drill, don’t worry about being a bit too rough.
It’s difficult to cut through the strong acrylic overlay down to your natural nails.
So your nails will be safe.
Don’t file the same spot for too long.
Keep moving the file all over your nail until all the polish is gone.
After that, take a nail cleaning brush and get rid of all dust and debris.
Buff the surface of your acrylic nails with a soft buffing block.
Now you can re-apply gel nail polish.
Don’t use an acetone-based remover to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails
Everyone knows that the easiest method of removing gel nail polish from natural nails is soaking it off with an acetone-based nail polish remover.
You just soak cotton balls or disks in acetone, apply them to your nails, and cover each nail with a piece of foil.
Then you need to wait for 10-15 minutes.
After that, you can remove the foil and cotton disks. And Gel nail polish coating on your natural nails becomes soft and pliable.
So you can easily push it off with an orangewood stick.
This method is pretty safe for your natural nails.
It’s also pretty quick and easy.
You don’t need any special skills to remove gel nail polish that way.
So, naturally, acetone is the first thing you may want to use to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails.
However, I have to warn you!
Never use an acetone-based remover to soak gel nail polish off acrylic nail extensions.
Acrylic nails can be soaked off with acetone too.
This is the easiest method of acrylic nail removal.
That’s why an acetone remover will remove your gel nail polish together with your acrylic nails.
If it doesn’t remove them completely it may still damage your acrylic nails beyond repair.
And you don’t want that.
You don’t want to spend hours repairing or reapplying your acrylic nails.
That’s why you shouldn’t use acetone for taking gel nail polish off acrylic nails.
However, you can use it with other nail extension materials.
Removing gel polish from nail extensions with an acetone-based nail polish remover is perfect for nails made from polygel or builder gel.
Acetone is not dangerous for these materials.
While they also contain methacrylates, they have a different formula from acrylics so you can only remove them by filing them off.
Don’t use an acetone-free remover to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails
You may wonder whether you can use a non-acetone remover to remove gel nail polish from acrylic nails.
No, you shouldn’t use this kind of remover with gel nail polish either.
An acetone-free remover is absolutely not effective against gel nail polish.
This kind of polish requires acetone.
It’s a very strong and hard polish that cures under UV light and lasts for 2-3 weeks on your nails.
So a mild remover will not be able to soften it and take it off your nail extensions or natural nails.
An acetone-free remover is only somewhat effective for removing the so-called gel-like nail polish.
For example, for removing CND Vinylux or Sally Hansen Miracle Gel.
This is a non-UV polish that lasts longer than an ordinary polish and is sometimes erroneously marketed as gel polish.
However, it’s not a true gel polish.
Still, when I remove it with a non-acetone remover from my nails it gets very stubborn.
It’s so hard to take off because it has to be used as a 2-step system with a top coat that seals it really well.
That’s why acetone has a much better effect on it.
So I doubt you’ll be able to remove a gel-like polish from your acrylic nails with an acetone-free liquid easily.
Please only file gel nail polish off them. This is the way!