How to Repair Natural Nails Damaged by Acrylics

by Contributing Writer ; Updated September 28, 2017

Acrylics are pretty, but they are expensive and time-consuming to keep up with. However, taking them off and going back to your natural nails is sometimes frightening when you see the condition they leave your nails in! Follow these tips to get your tips in tip-top shape in no time.

Items you will need

  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Non-acetone nail polish remover
  • Neosporin or other medicated cream
  • Medium grain nail file
  • 4-sided nail buffer
  • Fine-grain file
  • Nail scissors
  • Repairing nail polish

How to Repair Natural Nails Damaged by Acrylics

Step 1

First, start by removing your acrylics the right way. Soak them in acetone nail polish to soften them and remove using clippers. Better yet, have them professionally removed. Just don't crack them or peel them off!

Step 2

Next, assess the damage. If your nails are in pretty good shape, you can start by following the steps below. If they are red, bleeding or painful, you'll need to allow them some growth before you buff and file, or you'll risk infection. Apply neosporin or other medicated creams to them daily and wait it out for up to a week.

Step 3

When your nails no longer cause you pain, you can start beautifying them again. Start with the basics - file your nails back into a normal shape using a medium emery board.

Step 4

Next, improve the surface of your nails by buffing them. You can use this doing a 4-sided buffer. These are square and usually have 4 different colors on them. This will entail a 4-step process of shaping buffing and polishing. The steps should be listed on your buffer and are different according to brand.

Step 5

If you have loose, dead skin or hangnails around your nails, you can trim them (carefully) using nail scissors. Since your nails are so fragile, pushing back your cuticles is not recommended at this point.

Step 6

Lightly shape up your nails again using a fine-grain file this time.

Step 7

Paint your nails with a clear or tinted polish with a nail strengthener, such as protein or silk.

Step 8

Repeat this process weekly, after removing old polish with a non-acetone nail polish remover.


  • Clear polish is the best choice at first, as it doesn't draw attention to nails that are beat up.


  • Be careful to avoid chemicals or extensive soaking. Until your nails are healed, it will be damaging and painful to expose your nails to either element.