How to Remove Shellac Nail Polish at Home

Shellac nail polish has been one of the many trends in beauty for years now, along with acrylic, gel and dip systems. It has the same application procedure as a gel manicure. The only difference is the components of the product. In terms of removal, it also requires a salon visit to perform a safe and smooth procedure.

However, there are ways you can remove Shellac polish at home without visiting a nail salon. The steps are easy, and following the proper method prevents damage to the nails. You’ll see your natural nails again worry-free!

In this article, we will give you a detailed guide on how to remove Shellac nail polish properly, plus other relevant information you need to know about this product.

What Is Shellac Nail Polish?

Let’s discuss a little bit about Shellac nail polish first before we provide the guide for its removal from natural nails. Shellac nail polish is a product created by Creative Nail Design (CND). It is a combination of traditional nail polish and gel and needs to be cured under a UV lamp. It’s also softer than gel, which is easier to remove when soaked in acetone.

Shellac contains a high percentage of lacquer, a shiny coating, which doesn’t cause any damage to the natural nails. Although this nail polish looks like the traditional ones, it needs curing to settle to the natural nails. But the application is the same as the traditional nail polish, where there is a base coat, the polish itself and a top coat.

Shellac nail polish also comes in various types, such as glitter, glossy and matte. It’s quick drying as well, which is ideal for individuals who have limited time to go to salons to get their nails done.

How to Remove Shellac Nail Polish in 5 Steps

1. Buff the Top Layer of the Nail

Buffing the surface of the nail polish breaks the seal and allows better penetration of any solution you’ll apply later in the process. You need to file the nail slowly to remove the shine and start loosening the polish. Do it carefully to prevent hurting the surrounding skin of the nail.

2. Soak the Nail in Acetone

This is the step where the polish will come off. What you need to do is use a cotton ball on each nail. Dip it in acetone and make sure it absorbs enough solution. Place it on top of the nail and then wrap the entire area with foil. Wait for 15 minutes to allow the acetone to soak in. You can also cover your hands with a warm kitchen towel during the 15-minute waiting time to help speed up the removal process.

3. Remove the Polish Using a Cuticle Pusher

Once the acetone has soaked in after 15 minutes, you can start removing the polish using a cuticle pusher. Gently lift the product off without scraping the natural nails. If the polish is still not entirely detached, soak it again with the cotton ball, but this time, you can add more acetone. Cover with foil again and wait for another 10 minutes before trying to remove the product again.

4. Buff the Shellac Nail Polish Residue

There will always be residue on the natural nails, and you need to remove it by filing it off. Do it gently to ensure you won’t file off the natural nails. Wash your hands after to completely get rid of the residue and clean your hands.

5. Hydrate Your Nails

This is a very important step in the removal of Shellac nail polish. You need to moisturise your nails after the procedure as they are weak and brittle. Apply cuticle oil on the nails and around them to ensure the whole area is covered.

One important thing to highlight is the damage that can happen if there is improper removal of Shellac nail polish. Make sure to wait for the acetone to soak in to remove the polish. Getting impatient and buffing or scraping the nails even if the acetone has not soaked in properly yet can lead to filing the layer of the natural nails. This can weaken the nails and make them brittle.

How Often Do You Get Shellac Nails Done?

Shellac nail polish ideally lasts up to 2 weeks, depending on your nail growth. You can go to the salon anytime for another session after the 2-week period. But it is highly recommended to take a break from any nail work for at least 1 week. During this time, you can apply nail strengthener to help regain your natural nails’ original health.

How to Make Shellac Nails Last Long

Although Shellac is only ideal for 2 weeks, you can always do something to extend the longevity of the nail polish a little bit more. When you do the following activities, expect to add one more week to the nails’ lifespan.

Protect Your Nails at All Times

Protection from cracking or chipping is the first thing you need to consider to make your nails last long. If you’re gardening, washing dishes or scrubbing the floor, make sure to use hand gloves. Doing so protects your skin and the Shellac nail polish from the damage caused by the harmful chemicals from the cleaning products you’re using.


Whether you’re applying, removing or maintaining Shellac nails, you always need to include hydration in these procedures. Moisturising your fingers helps keep the nails healthy and extend the life of the nail polish. You can use hand cream to apply to your entire hands and then cuticle oil to your nails. Apply day and night or as necessary.

Maintain the Polish

Since we are talking about extending the lifespan of the polish, maintaining it is key. You should apply a top coat polish to your nails once a week to keep a strong layer of protection. This also makes your nails look shiny all the time.

Are Shellac Nails Better Than Acrylic or Gel Nails?

The straightforward answer is it depends on your preference. There is no better than others when it comes to nails. If you’re looking for long, durable and hard nails, acrylic nails are the best option. If you opt for gel-based manicures with a harder output, you can go for gel nails. If your preference is for softer nail polish but provides very shiny results, Shellac is your best bet!

Is Shellac Manicure or Pedicure for Everyone?

Technically, anyone who wants to get their nails done can do a Shellac manicure or pedicure. But if your nails are thin and brittle, you need to step back and improve your nails’ health first. Applying Shellac polish or performing any manicure or pedicure can worsen the condition of your natural nails.

To gain your nails’ original condition, you can use hand cream and nail oil together. Use the hand cream to hydrate the skin of your hands. The nail oil will specifically work on regaining the healthy condition of your nails. Apply both products twice a day or as you see fit until your nails are healthy again.

6 Tips to Keep Healthy Nails

Whether you frequently get your nails done or not, it’s always recommended to take care of your natural nails. They need to be properly maintained as they protect your fingers and toes. Here are some tips you can try at home:

1. Clean Your Nails

This is very basic but important to highlight. Cleaning your nails frequently prevents bacteria build-up that can lead to diseases. It also prevents the nails from growing very long that can be prone to chipping or breaking. Trim and file your nails regularly and avoid very long nails as much as possible to prevent chipping. Also, gently push back cuticles. You don’t need to cut them because they protect new nails from harmful microbes. What you need to remove is loose skin around the nails.

2. Keep Nails Dry and Clean

Prolonged or repeated contact with water encourages bacterial growth under your nails and can cause split fingernails. This is why it’s recommended to minimise contact with water by wearing gloves when doing chores or cleaning activities.

3. Moisturise

We can’t stress enough how important moisturising your hands and nails regularly is. Hydration keeps your nails strong and your skin healthy. Your routine should include applying hand lotion day and night or as needed. You can also use cuticle oil or nail strengthener for added moisture.

4. Don’t Bite Your Nails

Some people have a habit of biting off their nails, which is not good. Cuts or wounds in your fingertips and nails allow bacteria into your skin, which can lead to diseases. Also, the fact that you’ll hurt your fingertips when biting is not a good practice. Don’t use your teeth to cut your nails or the surrounding skin.

5. Avoid Emery Boards with Very Rough Surfaces

Emery boards with too rough surfaces are not advisable for the nails. These can leave small cracks in your nails that can lead to breakage and splits. The recommended emery boards are those with 180-240 grit as these effectively create smooth edges and shape your nails without causing damage. When filing, move slowly in one direction to ensure accuracy.

6. Eat Healthily

Never forget to eat healthily as nutritious foods are the number one source for keeping your nails and the rest of your body healthy. When your body absorbs the nutrients from the food you eat, it creates healthy blood flow, which maintains your nails. You can follow a plant-based diet, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. See great results with your health and nails in just a month or two.

Final Words

With the steps on how to remove Shellac nail polish, you can conveniently perform the removal process at home. As long as you do each step properly, you can successfully remove the polish smoothly. But if you think that getting professional help from a nail technician will make things easier for you, don’t hesitate to visit the salon.