How to remove shellac nails

How to remove shellac nails

Most manicure enthusiasts love the idea of playing around with different nail designs and techniques to show some bits of their personality. The nail painting process is, however, not always a walk in the park. For instance, gel nails take time to install, and they don’t always have as much of a shiny finish as nail polish. While regular nail polish has a glossy finish, it takes forever to dry and can chip easily.

New nail techniques come up every often, and keeping up or choosing the perfect nail art can be a little overwhelming, especially if you are new in the manicure world. One trend that has hit the manicure industry like a storm is shellac polish. It dries within a short period under UV light, gives a shiny finish, and takes weeks before chipping. Besides, the process of removing shellac is relatively easy and fast.

This article will exhaustively cover what shellac nails are and the complete shellac removal process, whether you choose to do it in a nail salon or at home.

Shellac nails – do they match the hype?

Yes, shellac nails are one of the greatest inventions of the manicure market. So, you may be wondering, what are they? What is up with all the hype? Read on to have your questions answered.

Shellac is an excellent mixture of gel and regular polish, an outstanding creation of the Creative Nail Design Company. This technique benefits from the gloss and vibrancy of traditional polish and the long-lasting nature of gel polish. The application process is quite simple, as it only requires two shellac coats and a topcoat, with each coat cured by a UV light. Here is a short compilation of shellac polish pros and cons.


  • Consistent use of shellac will not weaken your natural nails, unlike gel and acrylics
  • It takes about 2 weeks before any chipping
  • Removing shellac with acetone wraps is safe for your nails
  • The polish is relatively thin thus flexible


  • You cannot use shellac as an extension or filler for your natural nails
  • Home removal is quite tricky without the right tools

Does shellac ruin your natural nails?

No. Shellac nails hype is also attributed to their safe application and removal. However, you should avoid Shellac polish if you have weak, thin and dry nails. Another important consideration is that shellac nails are cured under UV light, so it is wise to have a good coat of sunscreen on your hands to avoid skin damage. Just like all other nail treatments, always take about a week’s break after every two months to accord your natural nails a break and avoid damage in the long run.

Removing shellac nails at home without knowing how to go about the process can damage your nails. If you are not confident in your shellac removing ability, consider booking an appointment with a professional nail artist.

Is it easy to remove shellac nails?

Yes, taking off shellac is an easy and fast service that you can get from a professional nail artist or do it yourself at the comfort of your home. If you are unsure how to take of shellac in a salon or at home, here is a section to help you understand what to expect in a salon and how to do it yourself.

How do salons take off shellac?

Removing shellac at a nail salon is very convenient; it will save you time and stress. Consider booking an appointment with your manicurist and let them handle the process. Most salons only charge a small amount for shellac removal and use high-quality products that leave your nails in tiptop condition.

Most salons use acetone with a 60% concentration or more. Acetone can be pretty harsh, and if your manicurist does not thoroughly moisturise your hands, you may end up with dry skin and damaged nail beds. Before booking an appointment, confirm that the nail salon has suitable removers designed explicitly for shellac nails.

CND, the shellac manufacturer, has a shellac system that they recommend to professional manicurists to use during the removal of shellac nails. This CND process of taking off shellac nails involves four crucial steps summed up S.I.T (saturate, in place, tighten and twist).

Essential tools needed

  • CND shellac removal pads
  • Acetone
  • Orange sticks for pulling cuticles
  • Shellac Removal


  1. The manicurist saturates a CND pad with pure acetone
  2. They wrap the saturated pad on the nail
  3. The next step involves tightening the pad and letting it stay on the nail for 10 minutes.
  4. The nail artist then exerts pressure on the cotton pad with their thumb and twists to relax the shellac nail coating.
  5. The final step involves twisting and pulling the cotton pad off the nail
  6. The orange sticks are used to pull any remaining nail polish towards the side, where the nail artist can use pure acetone and cotton pads to clean them.

How to take shellac off at home

Being far from a salon should not stop you from getting rid of chipped shellac nails because you can comfortably remove them yourself at home. This section will give you a complete step-by-step guide on how to go about it. You should first set up your working area and line the surface with sheet masks or cloth to avoid a mess from the slight filling of the topcoat or spillage of the remover.

If you wonder how to get shellac nails off at home, you can do it with or without acetone.

Removing Shellac With Acetone

Pure acetone is the best and the most readily available remover for shellac nails. You can either use the soaking method or the wrapping method, both of which are elaborated below.

The Soaking Method

Tools needed

  • Bowl with a wide mouth
  • Acetone
  • Cuticle oil
  • Orange stick or manicure stick
  • Warm water and soap
  • Lotion


  1. Pour the acetone on a wide-mouthed bowl that can fit the ball of your five fingers.
  2. Use a generous amount of cuticle oil on your cuticles and rub it into the skin near your nails. Cuticle oil forms a protective layer against the dehydrating nature of acetone.
  3. Slightly ball up your hand, ensure your nails are visible, and then soak them into the acetone for 10 minutes. Try to get as little skin as possible in contact with acetone to avoid the harsh side effects. Keep your nails in the acetone for the full ten minutes, even if you see the polish shedding off.
  4. When 10 minutes elapse, take your nails from the acetone and use your manicure stick to remove the remaining shellac. Keep scraping off using an orange stick until all the shellac has come off your nails.
  5. Clean your hands with lukewarm water and soap to get rid of any residual shellac and acetone.
  6. Give your skin a good massage with some lotion, and use generous amounts of cuticle oil around your fingernails.

The Wrapping Method

Tools needed

  • A soft grit nail file
  • 5 Cotton balls
  • Aluminium foil
  • Acetone
  • Manicure stick or orange stick
  • Masking tape
  • A shallow bowl


  1. Pour some acetone into a shallow bowl.
  2. File the top of your nail using a soft grit nail file. This breaks the top coating of your shellac nails, allowing the acetone to soak in quickly.
  3. Rub a good amount of cuticle oil on your cuticles and the skin near your nails.
  4. Split each cotton ball in half and saturate it with acetone or any other shellac nail remover.
  5. Place each saturated ball on your nail and secure it. After that, wrap some foil around the cotton and use masking tape to tighten the foil. The heat trapped by the aluminium foils quickens the removal process.
  6. Wait for ten minutes as the remover soaks into the shellac nails.
  7. Carefully rub the cotton on each nail back and forth to get rid of as much polish as possible. Remove the cotton balls and use your manicure stick to get rid of any excess polish.
  8. Generously moisturise your nails using cuticle oil and rub some lotion on your skin.

Removing shellac without acetone

The lack of acetone should not stop you from getting rid of worn-out shellac nails. There are several readily available ingredients you can use to remove shellac without damaging your nails. They include:

Vinegar and Lemon

The acidic nature of a 1: 1 vinegar and lemon mixture is excellent for taking off shellac nail polish. You should dab a cotton ball into the solution and gently rub your nails to remove the polish.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is generally an excellent cleanser, and it will take off shellac polish easily. Make the magic paste by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to two teaspoons of warm water. Put this paste on your nails and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Use a gentle brush to rub your nails, and use a warm towel to clean and dry them.


Use a cotton pad soaked in a bit of wine to wipe your nails and wait for 15 minutes. Wine can easily bleach your shellac nails, making it easy to remove them.

Warm Water, Oil and Soap Solution

This method will instantly work for worn-out shellac nails.

Shaving Cream

As funny as it sounds, the active ingredients in a shaving cream can eliminate shellac nail polish. Apply some shaving cream to your nails, rub them in circles and rinse off with warm water.

Glass-Cleaning Solution

Rub your nails using a cloth soaked in the glass-cleaning solution to get rid of shellac nail polish.


As seen, the process of removing shellac from a salon and at the comfort of your home are almost similar, but a salon will offer you a seamless and mess-free service. Shellac removal salon appointments are also quite affordable and fast.

If you ever need to make an online appointment for a top professional manicurist around your area, consider using the Booksy website for a fast and hassle-free booking service.

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