Want to remove your shellac at home? Here's how to do it without destroying your nails

It’s not as complicated as you’d think.

By Maddison Leach
Removing shellac nail polish at home can be a pretty daunting task, especially when you have to DIY it without any experience.
But that's the reality many people across Australia are facing in the current coronavirus outbreak, which has left several states in snap lockdowns.
Unable to return to nail salons and other professionals to get their manicures removed or freshened up, thousands have had to take their nails into their own hands – no pun intended.
So how do you remove shellac nail polish at home?
Before turning your own nail beds into a scary beauty before-and-after situation, check out our guide to DIY manicure removal.

How to remove shellac nail polish at home

Removing shellac nail polish at home isn't rocket science, but there are a few key steps you need to follow to avoid ruining your natural nails.
Start by getting all the products you'll need for the removal process:
  • Five cotton pads, cut in half to make 10 halves
  • 10 large squares of tin foil
  • Acetone nail polish remover (the acetone part is important!)
  • A nail file
  • Cuticle sticks
  • Optional: Vaseline, cuticle oil and a nail buffer
Once you have all the items listed above and a good half hour (or more) of free time, you're ready to tackle your nails.

Steps to remove shellac at home

1. Start by using a nail file to gently buff away the top surface of the shellac. You don't need to go too hard, just apply enough pressure to remove the shiny top layer.
2. Optional: If you're worried about damaging the skin around your nails, you can add a thin layer of Vaseline to prevent the acetone from drying it out.
3. Soak half a cotton pad in acetone nail polish remover and press it over the nail, then secure by wrapping the tin foil square around it. Make sure you're using a nail polish remover with acetone in it – those without won't be able to break down the polish properly.
4. Repeat the process on each nail until they're all wrapped in foil, then leave them to soak for 15 minutes.
Removing shellac nail polish at home doesn't have to be difficult.
5. Adding heat can speed up the process, so wrapping your hands in a towel is a handy trick. Avoid using a hair dryer or anything with intense heat, as it can damage your nails.
6. Unwrap your nails and gently try to lift the shellac away from your nail using cuticle sticks. If you don't have any you can use your fingers for this, but be gentle regardless of what tool you use.
7. If the shellac is stubborn and won't budge, wrap your nails back up in the acetone, cotton pad and foil for another 5 minutes. Repeat as needed.
8. Once the product is fully removed from your nails, you can buff the surface gently and add a nail and cuticle to restore hydration.
Shellac manicures are more durable than regular polish, and harder to remove.
Be aware that removing shellac at home can be a long and messy process, so it's a good idea to set aside some spare time for it.
Not that it's difficult to find spare time while we're all shut inside!
DIY shellac removal will often leave your nails feeling dry and a little worse for wear, so investing in a nice nail and cuticle oil and some strengthening products is a great idea. Cutting your nails short to avoid further damage can also be helpful.
It's always best to have shellac removed by a professional, so if your manicure can last until lockdown ends, it may just be worth the wait.
If not, you now have the tools to get rid of it yourself.