How to Remove Gel Nail Polish off Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails continue to be one of the most popular kinds of artificial nails. These nail extensions add to the length of your natural nails while offering extreme strength and durability.

They can also be adorned with nail art or painted with whichever type of nail polish you prefer. Gel polish is a great choice as it is longer-lasting than other polishes.

But when you want to change your look, what do you do? In this guide, we talk about how to remove gel nail polish off acrylic nails. 

What This Article Covers:

Can Nail Polish Be Removed From Acrylic Nails?

Can you paint acrylic nails with normal nail polish? Yes, you can. But care needs to be taken when removing it. While acrylics are tough, they are not indestructible. 

Certain nail polish removers can do more harm than good. But don’t be tempted to try to scratch, or even worse, bite the polish off. You will cause damage to the acrylic nails and your nailbeds in that way.

There are ways to safely remove nail polish from acrylics. But some polishes may be easier to remove than others. And some methods suit you more than others, depending on your comfort levels.

Can I Remove Gel Polish From Acrylics?

So, what about gel nail polish? Can you use gel polish on acrylic nails?  Yes, you can use a gel over acrylics. It is a very good combo if you want longer nails with a glossy color that lasts longer.

But removing gel polish is not as simple as removing regular polish. And taking it off when you have acrylic nails requires even more care. 

Why is that? Well, you need to be certain that you don’t inadvertently damage the acrylics when removing the polish. Methods of polish removal that work for natural nails may not be suitable for acrylic nails.

How Do I Remove Gel Nail Polish?

how to remove gel polish from acrylic nails

Gel nail polish is designed to be longer-lasting than ordinary polish, and is cured by UV or LED light. It takes a bit longer to remove than regular polish, but it is simple to do when you know how. 

We spoke to the experts about removing gel polish from acrylic nails. There are 3 commonly used methods used for removing gel polish from acrylics at home. They are:

  • Filing
  • Tin-Foil
  • Hot Water

3 Methods For Removing Gel Nail Polish From Acrylics At Home


Filing is an effective and safe way to remove gel nail polish from acrylics. According to some nail technicians, the filing method is the very best method for removing the gel from acrylics.

In nail salons, this technique is sometimes referred to as drilling because of the special tool that is used. If you are going to try it at home, you will need your own e-file or nail drill machine. 

If you do not have one of these, you can buy one online. But if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about using it, rather move on to one of the other 2 methods listed below.

Items You’ll Need:

  • An E-File
  • Cotton ball for wiping nail clean afterward
  • A tray or towel to work over


Be sure to familiarize yourself with the E-file before using it for the first time. If you have bought yours from a reputable dealer, it will meet with safety regulations, and contain instructions for use.

File the gel polish off with swift strokes. Move the file in one direction at a time. Keep moving the file gently around your nail until all the gel is removed. Follow the same procedure for each nail. 

Do not keep e-file focused on one spot for too long. This method can be time-consuming and may feel a bit uncomfortable for some people. But it will become easier with each use.

Once the polish has been filed away, use the cotton ball to wipe the last traces of polish away from the nail. This method can make a fair amount of mess. So make sure to work over a tray or towel to keep your work surface tidy.


You may have had nail polish removed with the tin-foil method at a nail salon. But to remove polish from acrylics, you need to use non-acetone-based nail polish remover only. This is vital so as not to damage the acrylics, so do not ignore this tip.

Items You’ll Need:

  • Nail file
  • Non-acetone based nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls
  • Tinfoil, cut into squares


Buff the surface of your nails with a nail file until the shiny coating is removed. Soak a cotton ball in non-acetone-based nail polish remover until it is saturated with it. Place the soaked cotton ball on top of the nail.

Wrap a square of tinfoil around it. Repeat this for each nail and leave for 10–20 minutes. The tinfoil squares keep the nail polish remover on your nail and prevent leaking. They also keep in heat and therefore speed up the removal time.

Remove the tinfoil squares and cotton balls, and use a fresh cotton ball to gently wipe the last traces of gel nail polish from your nails. Our At-Home Gel Removal Kit is a great substitute for this method.

how to remove acrylic nails with gel polish

Hot Water

This method requires non-acetone-based nail polish remover and two bowls for filling with hot water.  One should be one larger than the other. 

Items You’ll Need:

  • Two bowls, one large and one small
  • Boiled water
  • A wooden cuticle stick
  • A sheet of paper towel


Boil water in a kettle and pour some into the larger bowl. Pour the non-acetone-based polish remover into the smaller bowl. Place the smaller bowl into the larger bowl.

Do not overfill the larger bowl, or the hot water will splash over the slides when the second bowl is lowered into it. Allow a few seconds for the contents of the smaller bowl to be heated by the hot water underneath.

Test that the contents of the smaller bowl are not too hot for you to handle, and then soak your nails in it for about ten minutes. During this soaking process, the remover will penetrate through the layers of polish and start to deteriorate the gel.

After removing your nails from the smaller bowl, gently scrape the gel polish off with the wooden cuticle stick. Then wipe your nail clean with a sheet of paper towel. This would be a great time to gently push your cuticles back if necessary. You could also add some cuticle oil at this time.

Are There Gel Nail Polishes That Are Easier To Remove?

Yes, there are. And if you are not familiar with such products, we’d like to introduce you to them. Our GELFX Easy-Off Basecoat will protect your nails, whether natural or acrylic. And it will cut your gel polish removal time in half. 

removing nail polish from acrylic nails

What Nail Polish Remover Is Safe For Acrylic Nails?

It is easier to time your new mani with your acrylics fill-in at your nail salon. A qualified nail technician will know exactly what to do. They have lots of experience working with acrylic nails. 

If you cannot make it to the salon, you can still safely remove your polish from your acrylics. But be sure to follow these tips for the best results.

Do Not Use Acetone On Acrylics

The important thing to remember is never to use acetone-based or 100% acetone nail polish remover when you have acrylic nails. There are several non-acetone products on the market, and these are gentler on acrylics. They are a better choice for natural nails too, as acetone can be very harsh.

Why Can’t Acetone Be Used On Acrylics?

Acetone will dissolve the acrylics. In fact, this is the way to remove your acrylics. Soaking them in acetone. If you merely want to change your polish, without removing the acrylics, don’t use acetone.

Is It OkayTo Mix Acrylic And Gel?

Can you mix acrylic powder with nail polish? Not if you are intending to use the polish instead of the liquid monomer to craft acrylic nails. But if you want to paint over acrylic nails that are already hardened, then gel polish is fine to use.

Gel polish is a good choice because it lasts longer than ordinary polish, and gives a lovely gloss to nails. But as an alternative to acrylic nails, you can go for all-gel nails. 

Remember to always buy your nail products from a reputable retailer like Orly. We have the right tools and products for all your nail care, that are kind to your nails, the environment, and your pocket.

Acrylic vs Gel

Which is better, acrylic or gel nails? This is a matter of personal choice. Acrylic nails add length and are super-strong. Gel nails are less time-consuming to apply and remove, and kinder to your natural nails. 

Some people alternate the two. This is because it is a good idea to let your natural nails recover and breathe a bit between acrylic nail treatments. 

How Can I Substitute Gel Nails For Acrylic Nails?

If you already have acrylic nails, you will have to wait until they grow out or get them removed at a nail salon. Then try our GelFX builder-in-a-bottle kit. It contains everything you need to sculpt beautiful gel nails. 

how to get gel polish off acrylic nails

In Conclusion

You spend time and money getting your nails done and keeping them looking beautiful. So don’t let that all go to waste with careless removal of your nail products at home.

If you follow our instructions and tips above, you will be able to skip a visit to the salon and remove your gel nail polish from your acrylic nails, like a pro.

Did you enjoy reading our blog? Then consider checking other guides: