Shellac Nail Polish Removal

Shellac nails are amazing. I mean, there is virtually no drying time, they last for almost two weeks, and they barely chip. They are the new generation of manicures. Almost sounds too good to be true, right? Well, for such a great manicure, there are tradeoffs. In this case, the tradeoff for beautiful nails that last nearly two weeks is the difficult removal process.

Shellac nails cannot be removed with regular nail polish remover. In fact, even 100% acetone takes its time to work through the layers of gel. There isn’t a special polish remover for shellac nail polish available yet. So, when you are in a bind or don’t particularly feel like having someone charge you $5-$10 to have your polish removed, here is a way to remove your own shellac polish at home.

Supplies to remove shellac nail polish

What you’ll need:

  • 100% acetone (please note the one in the photo above is NOT 100% acetone. I realized this after I used it, but it still works for this purpose).
  • Buffer
  • Orange/cuticle stick
  • Cotton balls/pads
  • Aluminum foil (enough to wrap around all 10 fingers)

Cotton pads

Step 1. Break out the cotton! I had cotton pads on hand, so I cut them in half. Soak them in acetone until fully drenched. Then, wrap the pad around your nail, and secure the pad with aluminum foil.

Be prepared, acetone may start to drip down from your fingers, so you may want to use another cotton pad (or paper towel) to wipe it up.

Wrap fingers in cotton and aluminum foil

Step 2. Continue this process on all your nails. I highly recommend working one hand at a time. The process is too messy to work on both hands at the same time. Wait 10 minutes.

Flaking nail polish

Step 3. Has it been 10 minutes? Good. Slide your nail out of the aluminum form, and you’ll see something like above. Flaking polish. The more flakes, the better.

Step 4. Use the orange stick to gently lift and scrape the polish off your nails. Be careful, as this can lift the top layers of the nail if the polish hasn’t been loosened enough. If you notice your polish isn’t coming off easily, slide your finger back into it’s aluminum form and let the acetone work for a few more minutes.

Removed nail polish, all nails

Removed nail polish, zoomed

Step 5. Once your polish has been removed, it’ll look like above. Gross, right? Well, now is the time to buff and clean those nails up! Follow the steps on your buffer for the best results.

Fully buffed, ready to go nails

There we go, nails looking good as new again! In fact, they are ready for some nail polish if you like. The surface should now be smooth.

Tips:

  • Using the aluminum foil method, rather than submerging the hand in acetone, helps ensure that the skin is not dried out. Acetone is a strong chemical, so it’s best to try the least damaging method for removal first.
  • The aluminum foil method can take a long time. It can take about an hour to fully remove the polish and buff all nails to perfection yourself. Keep that in mind. This remove process won’t happen in 15 minutes.
  • Find 100% acetone. I was able to get away with a product that was mostly acetone, but 100% acetone will work even better. You may have to read all the chemicals ingredients on the label, or you may need to venture into a beauty supply store to get the right stuff.

Do you have any tips for removing shellac nail polish? Please share!

41 thoughts on “Shellac Nail Polish Removal

  1. Pingback: Spotlight On: Shellac Polish

  2. Your shellac removal worked like a charm! I went a little further and left acetone on fifteen minutes, plus I bagged my hand in a quart size plastic bag with a rubber band around my wrist to provide a little warmth. Polish came right off. I wouldn’t hesitate to do shellac polish again. Plus I did French style manicure, and it didn’t show nail growth so fast. Mine lasted 2 1/2 weeks!

  3. I tried it, too, and it worked great. Thanks for the post! I had the shellac removed at the salon a couple of weeks ago, but the tech was using these wraps, sort of like band-aids, that were designed by the shellac company. They did not work nearly as well as foil, and thus here I am a couple of weeks later trying to get the remnants of it off my nails. The foil keeps the acetone in direct contact with the nail, which is very important. Run away from those new-fangled band-aids and demand foil if anyone tries to sell you on them!

    • Glad it worked well for you! The last time I talked to a nail technician, she told me there weren’t any perfect shellac nail polish removers on the market yet and that they still use acetone to remove shellac. Acetone + foil really get the job done!

  4. I haven’t had time to visit the salon to get it removed and was desperate for a good solution. I did this last night, using the exact same polish remover in your picture (already had it on-hand), and it successfully removed my shellac!! Thank you SO much for sharing this! It saved me time (and money) by doing it at-home!

  5. Thanks so much for posting this! I had my first shellac manicure a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea it didn’t come off like regular polish. I actually used acetone free polish remover, it’s what I had on hand, and it worked! I left it on for 15-20 minutes, though. Thanks again!

    • Wow, I’m surprised regular nail polish remover worked for you since shellac is pretty difficult to remove, but I’m glad it did!!!

  6. This sounds like a great plan. I will be headed to the store shortly to get the supplies I need. Wish me luck! :)

  7. Thank you so much for your help,I havent tried yet but as far as I can see works for everyone and I will be doing this tonight!:)
    Come later tomorrow to let u know how well I done lol

  8. Thank you so much for posting this! The girl that did my nails last didnt do such a good job and one of the nails peeled off tonight. I was desperate for a way to get this shellac off! I’m waiting for hand #2 to finish up right now :) this technique worked wonders! I love shellac and now that I know how to remove it I will be getting it again! thanks!

  9. If you buff the shiny coat with a very fine emery board, so as to rough up the top coat, the acetone / foil trick works a little faster. Careful not to buff too deeply

  10. It worked! Awesomeness, thank you – I used nail varnish too, couldn’t find 100% acetone, and had to make do with cling film but now my nails look spangdangulous and I don’t have 2 1/3 week regrowth ruining the look.
    Thank you!
    Mary

  11. I have Shellac on my nails as a French manicure, and love it. It was done eleven days ago and still looks great, even with growth. Don’t really want to pay to have it removed, as will work out really expensive. So reading all the advice and it sounds good, is brilliant. Thank you. Will let you know how I get on.

    • Cool! I’ve never done a French shellac manicure before but I’m sure it looks fab! Hope that when the time comes, removal is a breeze with my tutorial!

  12. Hi there, You have done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends.

    I am sure they will be benefited from this site.

  13. Love the tip thanks! I am lucky in that my salon remove for free, even when I don’t get a new shellac polish, but will use your tip for when we’re on holiday – 3 weeks of regrowth looks very wrong!

  14. Thanks for the help. I had my nails shellaced 4 weeks ago! They still look perfect with no chips at all – though they look bad because they’ve grown out. I’m going to take the Shellac off now.

    • have never had shellac before till 3 weeks ago I am so impressed not a chip or mark on my nails and yes have 2 teenage kids so I am always washing up other than re growth they are still perfect

  15. Thanks for the info, I’m going to do it now. I had my nails Shellaced 4 weeks ago, and they’re still perfect apart from growing out. So that’s why I’m wanting to remove the Shellac.

  16. Thank you so much, it really does work…all this time I’ve been picking it off…what a time waster and ruins the nails! Thx again

  17. Thank you so much, it really does work…all this time I’ve been picking it off…what a time waster and ruins the nails! Thx again

  18. Thanks so much for this! I cunningly used a “normal” nail polish (of the same colour as the shellac to fill in the regrowth) so have had great looking nails for 9 weeks! Thanks to your page, its all off now though. :-) Excellent tips – thanks again!

  19. WORKED AWESOME. I was afraid do shellac a 2nd time because the first time was a nightmare to remove plus it was the glitter which made it even harder to get off. Needless to say I wrecked my nails. This time I did a solid color and followed these instructions and it worked and did not wreck my nails. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS PAGE AND EASY INSTRUCTIONS WITH PICTURES! ♥

  20. This is the third time I have done the shellac… never again! It has never lasted longer than a week. Starts peeling and chipping near my cuticles, then catches on everything. Three different nail salons, same result. I am so sad! I will be trying this tonight to get the rest of this off. My nails are more than embarrassing :(

  21. Pingback: Spotlight On: Shellac Polish

  22. Pingback: Spotlight On: Shellac Polish – Kates

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