How to remove shellac polish


Right before Christmas I treated myself to my very first shellac manicure. Well, to be honest, I had a gift certificate. But, still, I got in a little “me time” before all the celebrating began.

In case you’re not familiar with shellac manicures, I really won’t be of much technical help. But it’s some crazy system of base coats, top coats, and UV lights that makes the polish stay unsmudged, shiny, and chip free for up to 2 weeks. And it’s pretty awesome!


My manicure was still going strong 2 weeks later…

(That’s 13 days with no touch-ups or anything.)

…I just couldn’t stand how long my nails had gotten! And all of the growth could be seen at the base of my nails. Almost like some sort of weird reverse French manicure.

However, the trouble with the fancy shellac manicures is that you can’t use regular ol’ nail polish remover to take it off. And I was warned to NOT peel it off, because it will take the top layer of your nail right along with it. I suppose this is how they get away with charging an additional $10 to remove your nail polish for you. No thanks.

With a little research (and some tips from the girl who did my nails), I discovered how to remove a shellac manicure at home. And you really only need 2 things, both of which can be purchased at your local drugstore (for much less than $10.)


  • 100% pure acetone
  • a manicure stick

The trick is to soak your nails in the pure acetone for 10 minutes then scrape the polish off with the stick. You will see the polish start to curl and peel away before the 10 minutes is up, but wait it out. It will come off much easier and cleaner.

I read that acetone can dry out your skin, so I wasn’t about to just dunk my whole hand in it. Instead, I poured a shallow pool of it in a dish, curled my fingers under, and dipped just my nails in.

Here’s what they looked like after 5 minutes.

And here’s what they looked like after 10.

At this point it scraped off easily into flakes.

I was worried that the skin that was in the acetone would be super dry (see my knuckles 3 pictures up), but they looked just fine after washing with warm water and soap.

(This picture was taken before putting on lotion!)

I have also been told that you can avoid dipping your fingers in acetone by, instead, soaking cotton balls in the acetone, placing them directly on each nail, and then wrapping them in aluminum foil. After 10 minutes, remove the foil & cotton and scrape off the polish. To me it sounds a bit neater but a lot more fuss.

So, there you have it! An easy way to remove your shellac manicure at home!

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