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You Got it Nailed, Baby!


The evening’s over, the girls have gone home, and as you step from the pumpkiny remains of the coach and kiss the mice goodnight, you sigh, “You were wonderful!”

Looking at your nails, of course.

You give your head a shake, and start to wonder how you’ll get this stuff off. Fear not, young princess; here’s how it’s done.

Nail Polish

The quickest method I’ve found is a jar of polish remover. It has a remover-impregnated foam insert with slots. Insert nail A into slot B and waggle around for a few seconds till polish is removed. Oh, great job! Beautiful waggling! Now let’s try just waggling the nail, dear, that’s all you need…

Look for acetone-free remover; it will remove polish without removing artificial nails.

Did your toes too, then, did you? Just wipe it off using cotton balls soaked in the polish remover from your jar above.

Press-On Nails

The nail kits usually contain instructions for removal. Peel ‘n’ stick ones can usually be gently loosened and pried off with a nail file. If you’re really careful you can sometimes re-use them.

If you’ve used contact cement, try careful prying to loosen the edges, then a spot of contact cement thinner to further loosen the bond. This stuff is not great for the skin, so treat your hands to a good hand cream when done.

Gels and Acrylics

There are two ways to get these off. The first is an industrial-strength belt sander. This tends to annoy neighbours at one in the morning and can be dangerous if used carelessly.

The recommended technique is soaking them off with acetone. Don’t buy the little bottles of it at the drug store, go down to your hardware store and get a big can for about a tenth of the price. You’ll generally find it around the paint remover section.

Tip: Buy your acetone before putting the nails on, just in case someone from the jobsite sees you and yells, “Hey, Joe, nice nails!” Even if you are in a hardware store, you may have some explaining to do…

Plan on a good 30 to 45 minutes to remove a set of nails.

Put a dozen or so marbles in a small bowl and cover with acetone. The marbles give you the needed depth of liquid while economising on acetone. Soak your nails for about five minutes. Be prepared for some stinging if you have cuts or scratches.

The top layer will have softened somewhat, so scrape it off and continue soaking. Do this until your nails are perfectly free of acrylic. Resist the temptation to file off the last few bits.

Acetone is a powerful solvent. Treat your hands to a thorough application of moisturising hand cream when you’re done.


Take good care of your nails. Moisturise your hands. Eat properly. Invest in a few good tools. Play with colours and fun techniques. Buy a book for inspiration. And practise, practise, practise!

Then get out there and party, girl!