How to Rehabilitate Natural Nails From Acrylics

Updated April 17, 2017

Many people get acrylic fingernails in the quest for beauty and style. Unfortunately, if they are applied and maintained incorrectly it can lead to damaged nail beds and possible infections. When acrylic nails are applied, the top of the nail plate is usually buffed to create a rough surface to encourage the acrylic and glue to adhere more strongly. The nail plate is the hardest part of a fingernail and protects the underlying layers of tissue. Once this portion is damaged, your natural nails can be rehabilitated with moisturisers and protection from further injury as the damage grows out.

Remove your acrylic nails by first clipping the extra length away. Soak your fingertips in a bowl of acetone based nail polish remover to soften the remaining acrylic and glue materials. As the materials soften, use an orange stick to gently scrape it away.

Wash your hands with an antibacterial soap after removing the acrylic material. Examine your nails to determine the amount of damage you have sustained as well as symptoms of nail fungus. Nail fungus can develop when moisture is trapped between your acrylic and natural nail. Symptoms include white, yellow or dark spots as well as brittle, misshapen nails. If any of these symptoms are present, see your doctor for treatment.

Trim any hang nails at a slight angle. File the tips with the nail file using a gentle straight across motion. Massage your nails and cuticle area with a moisturiser three times per day, particularly after the nails have been in water and at bedtime. Do not buff the top of your fingernails until they have been fully rehabilitated.

Apply a coat of nail hardener to protect the nail surface. Avoid using nail polish remover that contains acetone on your natural nails, as this will dry them out. Take a biotin supplement of 2.5 milligrams each day to thicken your brittle nails.


Wear rubber gloves when exposing your nails to household cleaning products or washing dishes.


Be patient and never force the acrylic nail away from your natural nails during the removal process. If your natural nails are red, inflamed or bleeding, do not apply any products until you have seen your doctor. Doing so may cause infection.

Things You'll Need

  • Nail clippers
  • Cuticle clippers
  • Nail file
  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Bowl
  • Orange stick
  • Soap
  • Hand and nail moisturiser
  • Nail hardening polish
  • Biotin supplement
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About the Author

Yvonne Ward began her professional writing career in 2004. She wrote a true-crime book published in 2010 and has two more underway. She also has a strong background in business, education and farm living. Ward is pursuing a Master of Arts in history and culture from Union Institute and University.