How to Safely Remove Nail Glue From Your Skin

May 27, 2022
Mary Honkus
By: Mary Honkus | by L'Oréal
How to Remove Nail Glue from Skin

There are many benefits to applying fake nails at home for a DIY manicure, but one of the downsides is having to deal with mishaps like getting nail glue stuck to your skin. Before you try to pry it off (which you should never do!), follow these steps from Julie Kandalec, celebrity nail artist and founder of Julie K Nail Artelier in New York City, on how to safely remove nail glue from your skin. 

What Exactly Is Nail Glue?

First things first, it can be beneficial to understand exactly what nail glue is. Though it is often compared to household super glue, nail adhesive actually acts differently than regular super glue. 

“Both adhesives are made from cyanoacrylates — a family of strong, fast-acting adhesives with industrial, medical and household uses,” explains Kandalec. “But nail adhesives are designed to dry fast and clear, are waterproof, and of course, are designed to bond to the nail. Not all adhesives can do that.” 

Nail glues also often contain beneficial ingredients that can help strengthen your nails and prevent fungal infections. That said, these adhesives should be reserved for the nail bed. If you do end up with nail glue on your hands, there are a few ways to safely remove it. 

How to Safely Remove Nail Glue from Your Skin

How to remove the nail glue depends on the amount you have on your skin. But no matter how much, it’s imperative to use acetone to effectively remove it all. “If there is a small amount on the skin, acetone will break the bond of the adhesive,” says Kandalec. Simply soak a cotton round in acetone and place it on the affected area for a few minutes so the build up can dissolve.

If you have a lot of nail glue on your skin, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to follow. “First soak the area in warm water — warmth will allow the adhesive to come off more easily,” Kandalec explains. “Then, soak a cotton ball or cotton swab in acetone and apply it to the area, allowing it to dissolve the glue. Once the area has gotten unstuck, use a soft nail file or padded nail buffer to smooth out the nail glue left on the skin.” 

We like using this JPACO Professional Nail File Set because they’re soft, double-sided and come in a pack of 12 cute designs.
JPACO Professional Nail File Set

Also, be sure to moisturize your skin and cuticles after removing nail glue because acetone can be drying. We recommend trying the CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream because it’s formulated with ultra-moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. Follow up with the Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil to rehydrate and revitalize your cuticles. 

Whatever you do, never try to pry nail glue off of your skin, as it can cause the skin to tear. It’s also best to avoid using an excessive amount of adhesive, too. “If it squishes onto your cuticles and between your fingers it can be difficult to remove,” says Kandalec. “Nail glue itself isn't toxic, but improper usage or using too much is what can cause minor skin irritation.”

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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