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The products used for dip nails and acrylics are pretty similar formulations, explains Julie Kandalec, Celebrity Manicurist and Author of Nail Art Design Book. That means the removal process is similar, too: careful, thoughtful stripping as opposed to picking, peeling, or cracking. Kandalec recommends the following steps to ensure a damage-free removal of any dip powder manicure:


Using a coarse nail file (Kandalec recommends a 100 grit file for this step), rough up the surface of the dip enhancement. Be very careful to avoid your natural nail and cuticle to prevent damage. Thin it out as much as you can. The thinner the layers, the more easily acetone—coming in the next step—will penetrate.

Resist the urge to cut your nails before you start removing. This can actually crack the acrylic/dip and damage your healthy natural nails underneath, explains Kandalec. Wait until all of your enhancements have been removed and then you can cut or file to whatever length you like.

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Pour 100% pure acetone into a glass bowl or shallow coffee mug. You’ll want to soak one hand at a time so that you have your other hand free to check on the progress of your removal (and send texts, eat snacks, adjust your face mask, or whatever you’re up to). Before dipping your hands in, rub cuticle oil all around your cuticle and finger tip to keep your skin protected and hydrated. You’ll also want to have a buffer and a towel handy too.

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Place your hand in the acetone and cover it with your towel. Your body heat will help the acetone work faster. Note: Never try to heat up acetone with anything more than body heat (it’s flammable). Put on a show or call a friend, and after about 15 mins check your progress. It won’t be gone just yet, but it will soften and be almost gummy, notes Kandalec. Grab your buffer and gently buff the acrylic or dip away. Keep alternating between these—soaking and gently buffing—until it evaporates completely and you’re left with naked nails. Once you’ve finished, hydrate and nourish your skin and nails with a rich hand cream, cuticle oil, and a repairing nail treatment (like peptide-infused Dermelect Natural Nail Repair).

This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.

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