How to remove Shellac nails at home


Since CND have brought out Shellac nails, I have been addicted. One thing that I think always helps you to look groomed is to have a neat set of nails, and because I’m terrible and bite my cuticles (repulsive, I know) I rely on my nails to tidy up my hands. Shellac is the perfect way to maintain a lovely manicure without the fuss of having to touch up chips every couple of days.

One thing that I always used to consider a downside, however, was the removal process. Shellac nails, although fabulous, aren’t cheap, and so I was never too keen on purchasing their removal pouches. My usual remedy would be to soak my fingers in acetone, but this really dries out my fingers and I wanted a slightly less severe method. Convinced that there must be an easier alternative, I did a bit of Googling and was pleasantly surprised.

A forum thread recommended soaking your own Shellac nails off using regular nail varnish remover (with a fairly high acetone percentage), cotton pads and tin foil. Without hesitation, I got to work.

What I used:

– Boots own brand nail polish remover
– A nail file
– Flat cotton pads
– Strips of tin foil

Firstly, I took three flat cotton wool pads and cut them into quarters.



Next, I cut ten strips of tin foil, each about an inch thick and three inches long.


With a top coat, two coats of Shellac polish and a base coat to penetrate, I decided to do a bit of chiseling before I started to soak my nails. Taking a regular nail file, I slightly buffed the top of each of my nails, taking care not to file any of my actual nail. This removed the shine from them and thus made it easier for the acetone to sink in.


I soaked a cotton quarter in nail varnish remover and placed it over one of my nails. Then, I used the tin foil to wrap it up tightly and allow it to soak. Apparently the tin foil helps the nail to heat up and therefore allows the acetone to really sink in to your nails. I did all five fingers of one hand (because once it was done I couldn’t do the other one!) and left them to soak for ten minutes.


Call me a complete amateur, but when the time came to scrape off the withered Shellac I just used my nails! The varnish had gone so soggy that it was just a case of lifting it off slightly using my thumbnail from the other hand. If there were any small nicks that just wouldn’t budge, I simply buffed them off using the nail file.

Although I had prepared supplies to use a fresh cotton quarter and tin foil strip for each finger, I actually found that my little finger packages slipped quite easily on and off so I reused the ones I had made on my other hand… the recessionista’s guide to nail care!

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  1. Wonderful, what a web site it is! This weblog provides useful
    information to us, keep it up.

  2. Thank you so much for this advice. I’ve only had shellac done once as a girls day with my sister & mom. I want it to come off since it’s been past 2 weeks when I had it done. Thank you again, I’m trying this now!

  3. Hi there ,worked a treat, had to leave on for 20 mins, saved me £10 at the salon.

  4. I am willing to give this a go as I have a client who has sensitive skin and didnt want to use the pure acetone wraps that I would normally use for clients, will keep you posted on the results!

  5. Genius! I have never used the Shellac/Gel polish because of the dreaded removal. What a wonderful idea, Thanks for sharing!

  6. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this
    blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Thanks luv! This has worked a treat! I seriously have no patience, so decided to fast track the method soak and foil fingers all at once! Worked superbly!!

    Regular nail polish remover does the job.🙂

    Huge thanks!

    Suzi X

  8. Red Bedlington says:

    This site was a great find. I followed the instructions and the results were very good. When I was buying the remover in Boots (the cheapest they had!) the assistant, unsolicited, told me it was the best for removing gel and shellac polishes. The only tip I can add is that after the first removal, I just dipped my nails into a small pot of remover for a minute or so and the stubborn bits came off really easily with no nail damage.

  9. Annemarie says:

    Defo going to try this !!!!

  10. Teresa Humphreys says:

    Wonderful !!!!! I have absolutely no patience with fiddling around , it worked like magic . Thank you. Teresa

  11. I’m trying it now, typing with one hand! I’ll let you know how it goes🙂

  12. I ran across this blog on http://rosaleengallagher. and if I
    could I’d like to point out to you some worthwhile things or ideas. Perhaps you could write your next articles pointing to these ideas. I want to read more things concerning what you’re talking about.

  13. Janine Ryan says:

    So far so good. Surfed around but this was by far the best guide so thanks xx

  14. Bloddy brilliant! Worked a treat! Thanks for this info.🙂

  15. Christal V says:

    Works like a charm😉

  16. Julie Swetnam says:

    This worked a treat saved me a fortune, thanks

  17. Shellac Novice says:

    Fantastic method- thank you so much for posting! Left hand is done, just waiting on my right lol x

  18. Angela andrews says:

    Amazing!!!! Works a treat. I used Elegant Touch ‘Get ’em off’ nail varnish remover using that technique and it was sooooo satisfying scrapping off the varnish. I didn’t file the varnish first as I forgot but it still worked. Thanks so much for the advise🙂

  19. Thank you worked a treat on Artistic nails- lots flaked off then just gently pushed off the rest.

  20. typing with one hand whilst left fingers covered in cotton wool soaked remover wrapped in foil. thanks for the tip; my salon does this method too but much neater parcels! and of course she charges £10, so thank you………………

  21. Thank you so much for this! It was quick and effective, and had no damaging side effects.

  22. wow! THANKYOU so much for the advice!! work as good as getting it done at the salon🙂

  23. Fab advice. This is going to save a lot of money! Can’t thank you enough. xx

  24. This worked really well, and saved me £10 for the salon to do it! Only a few points, the first is I’d definitely recommend filing the surface first as I left this stage out and it took a bit longer to get all the polish off. Secondly it did leave my nails a little dry, after I washed off the acetone I coated my nails in moisturiser and then used a cuticle oil to try and revive them!

  25. Fantastic – worked a treat for me. Have had shellac on my toe nails for weeks and weeks and they haven’t chipped at all (only problem is that the nail has grown so there is a large area with no polish on!).

  26. Great info I’m going to get shellac for the first time later today and I wanted to make sure it could be removed at home without damaging the nail

  27. I’m definitely trying this tonight!🙂

  28. Lindsay Staveley says:

    Had shellac on for ages & couldn’t get it off. Tried this and it worked first time – absolutely fantastic!!

  29. shirlie says:

    will be giving this ago this weekend as you say it saves paying for them to be soaked off then i can just go an have them re done. will keep you posted ! thats what my lady did any way first time i had them soaked off only charged me a tenna so gotta be worth a try and im sure it will be fine as she did that anyway

  30. Natalie says:

    Thanks for the instructions! I just followed them
    and saved myself £15 to have it professionally removed! So, thank you!

  31. Madison says:

    Trying this right now! This was my first time trying shellac on my nails… I loved it!

  32. Great job! I haven’t seen a step-by-step before, and I haven’t tried this process yet, but it sounds like it was really effective!

  33. Perhaps a Dremel tool with a cotton buffing pad would work?

  34. Thanks for the step by step. I sometimes peel mine, I know terrible. Love my shellac nails!


  1. […] (By the way, if you ever wonder how to remove gel nails at home you can see my step-by-step guide HERE. It’s the most read Mixed Gems post to […]

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