Shellac Removal at Home Tips

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If you have had a shellac nail polish manicure you may not be able to remove it yourself.

Shellac nail polish becomes an adhesive to the nail through UV lights. Salons have professional lights and tools to remove shellac easily.

What happens when you can’t get to the salon?

Don’t worry – you won’t have to let the shellac grow out with the rest of your nails!

I love getting shellac manicures but don’t always like going back to the salon especially if I’m just getting a removal.

shellac removal at home
My favourite Shellac Manicure!

In this web tutorial, I will teach you how to remove shellac nail polish at home.

Remove Shellac Nail Polish at Home Tutorial

There are a few tools you will need in order to remove shellac nail polish at home:

  1. Nail Polish Remover – This doesn’t have to be 100% acetone. Any nail polish remover from the drugstore will work. However, it does have to have some acetone in it.
  2. Cotton Pads or Balls – I prefer flatter cotton pads but if you don’t have these cotton balls will work perfectly. Cut into 10 pieces.
  3. A bowl
  4. Tin Foil – Cut into 10 squares.
  5. A Nail File
  6. A manicure scraper tool if you have one or any other metal scraper that is solid.

Steps on how to remove shellac nail polish on your own:

Step 1: Create a rough texture on top of the shellac with your nail file

Using the flat side of your nail file, rough up the top of your shellac by running the nail file over the entire nail. You want to ensure the nail polish is no longer shiny. This will help removal because you are essentially taking off some layers beforehand. It will help the acetone penetrate for removal.

Step 2: Soak the cotton pad in acetone

Shellac Removal Tin Foil Method

Take your bowl and fill it with acetone. Cut up 10 pieces of cotton pads and put them into the acetone bowl.

Step 3: Tin Foil with the Cotton Pad

Shellac Removal at home tin foil

Take 1 of the 10 cotton pads and put it on top of your nail. Take 1 of the 10 tin foil pieces and make a TIGHT wrapped seal around the cotton pad.

I suggest only doing one hand a time if you are removing shellac by yourself.

Do the rest of your 4 fingers on one hand.

Step 4: Sit for at LEAST 20 minutes (30 minutes is better)

Shellac Removal Tin Foil

The longer you leave the the tin foil and cotton pad on, the easier it will be to remove. Essentially, when you remove the cotton pad and foil from your nail you should see the shellac instantly lifting up. If you’ve checked and it still seems like it is fused to your nail keep waiting.

Step 5: Scrape the rest off with the Manicure Tool

Now that the shellac should be nicely lifted, you’ll be able to scrape the rest off in a downward motion, with the manicure tool. Don’t be afraid to actually scrape! You’re not going to damage your nail if you’re just getting the actual remaining shellac nail polish.

You may have to go back and soak with the cotton ball and tin foil again if you are finding that you have to scrape a lot.

If you don’t have a manicure tool, you can use a wooden orange stick or even a nail clipper. Anything metal that allows you to put pressure on the remaining shellac.

Step 6: File Down and Apply Cuticle Oil or Coconut Oil

You will notice that your nails are going to be thinner like paper and break more easily. I suggest you file your nails down as far as they will go. This way, you’ll avoid breaks in the middle of the nail.

You may also want to apply cuticle oil on the nail as well because it will help give your nails some moisture. If you don’t have cuticle oil then coconut oil will do the trick. Your nails are likely dried out at this point depending on how long you’ve had the shellac on for.

Alternatives to Removing Shellac on Your Own

If you don’t like the steps I mentioned above you can always fill a bowl with acetone and actually soak your nails in there for about 15 minutes. Then you still need a scraper but the shellac should come off.

I don’t like this approach because your fingers will smell like acetone for awhile and I find it’s unnecessary to use so much of a chemical.

Alternative to using Acetone

If you don’t want to use acetone to remove your shellac nail polish, there are other nail polish removers out there that are natural. For example, there are soy based nail polish removers that can be found on Amazon but it depends on your needs.

What If I peeled off my Shellac Manicure?

If you peeled off your Shellac Manicure no need to worry! If you have a buffer or a rough nail sponge buffer you can use that to get rid of the mess it likely made. Just be sure to put on some coconut oil or moisturizer on your nails.

What Should I put on my nails after removing Shellac?

There are many nail hardeners you can find to put on your nails after Shellac. I always recommend at least a 5 day breathing room but these hardeners are made for after Shellac.

Some of the best after Shellac Nail Polish or Nail hardeners are:

OP Nail Envy

OPI Nail Envy after shellac manicure

I did a review of OPI Nail Envy which you can read here. Essentially, OPI Nail Envy is a nail hardener that replenishes your nails. Nail Envy now comes in a variety of colours so you can look like you have a manicure but also heal your nails at the same time.

The best place to buy OPI Nail Envy is on Amazon.

Sally Hansen Gel Rehab Strengthener

Sally Hansen has a variety of nail products that help strengthen your nails. The Gel Rehab Strengthener is specifically made for after gel or shellac nails.

If you’re looking for something to put on your nails in between Shellac visits this is the best option. It has ingredients to be able to rejuvenate your nails overnight (as it says) to heal your poor damaged nails from any UV light.



There you have the tutorial on how to remove shellac nail polish at home. If you are still unsure drop me a line in the comments so I can guide you on how to remove your shellac by yourself.

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