How to Get Nail Glue Off Skin & Nails – 5 Easy Steps with Pictures

Updated on September 21, 2023
Lauren Long By Lauren Long
Lauren Long

Creative Writer, Lifestyle Blogger, and Skincare and Wellness Enthusiast

Table Of Contents

    How to Get Nail Glue Off SkinPIN

    How to Get Nail Glue Off Skin & Nails – 5 Easy Steps with Pictures

    “Will you marry me?”


    It’s the moment you’ve been dreaming about. Your partner got down on one knee, opened a box revealing a gorgeous diamond ring, and proposed.

    The moment of your dreams can quickly become a nightmare when you take the ‘social media shot’ of your engagement ring, only to see a ghastly chunk of glue on your finger.

    While a spoiled engagement photo of your hand is unlikely the reason why you’re wondering ‘how do I get nail glue off my skin’, we all can agree that imperfections on and around our nails sure can drive us nuts.

    Excess nail glue can happen if we apply too much glue when using press on nails, we don’t have a steady hand, or maybe we came from getting a fresh set of artificial nails at the salon, only to notice that the nail technician missed a spot of glue.

    Why is it hard to remove nail glue off skin?

    Nail glue for artificial nails works so well because it is more similar in chemical structure to superglue than other types of glue for arts and crafts. Both contain cyanoacrylate, the same chemical found in many household superglue products, which dries quickly and is clear in color.

    There are a few reasons why you should not use superglue as an alternative to nail glue:

    • Superglue contains etching agents which toughen up the surface where the glue is applied to form a stronger bond
    • Etching agents will remove the top layer of your natural nail
    • Superglue is harder to remove than nail glue

    Fortunately, whether you’ve used nail glue or superglue for your glue on nails, the process to remove glue off skin is the same. Follow the instructions below to effectively take glue off your skin.

    How to Get Nail Glue Off Skin

    When you’re searching for methods to remove nail glue, you’ll want to consider which of the following options you are hoping to achieve:

    1. Remove excess nail glue from only the skin when you apply glue on nails or fix a loose nail
    2. Remove nail glue from your skin and fingernails after you have removed glue on nails

    First, we will talk about option number one: how to take nail glue off the skin only. You will want to avoid strategies that involve soaking your hands or fingers. Soaking is generally a method to loosen the bonds in glue and sticky substances and may cause your glue on nails to come off.

    For this example, we will demonstrate how to get nail glue off the skin using an acetone-based nail polish remover.

    While it is easy enough just to say ‘use acetone,’ simply pouring the solution onto the skin around our nails, soaking our fingertips in acetone, or using a nail polish remover sponge will likely take off our polish or remove press-on nails altogether if not done carefully.

    Our goal is to remove as much nail glue from the skin as possible without using acetone.

    But what is acetone, and how does it work for nail polish and nail glue?

    Acetone is a solvent that breaks down or dissolves other substances. Acetone breaks down the polymers in hardened nail polish or glue, returning them to their liquid state so they can be wiped away. Larger concentrations of acetone are found in products like paint thinner, which is why we want to use acetone-based nail polish remover with caution, so we don’t ruin our lovely decorated nails.

    Before you begin, make sure you have the following gear on hand, as outlined in the table below.

    What You Need What It Is For
    Small bowl of warm water To soak a cotton ball or pad for glue removal
    Cotton balls or cotton pads To wipe and clean glue around the nails
    Orangewood manicure stick or cuticle clippers To peel off lose glue
    Acetone-based nail polish remover Liquid used to break down the bonds in the dried nail glue
    Dixie cup or water bottle cap (optional) To pour your acetone-based nail polish remover into
    Q-Tips For precis acetone application
    Clean toothbrush or nail buffer For brushing or buffing off excess glue
    Cuticle oil (optional) For rehydrating your skin

    Once you have your materials, it’s time to learn how to get that nail glue off your skin!

    Step 1

    Take your small bowl and fill it with warm to hot water. Hot water is a more effective solvent than cold water, hence why we use it to remove dirt when we clean or shower. We don’t want the water to be overly hot to avoid scolding our skin or damaging our fake nails. Take a cotton ball or pad and soak it in warm water.

    Step 2

    Using the warm water-soaked cotton ball or pad, massage the affected area with the glue to loosen the glue.

    Step 3

    Pour half a teaspoon of acetone-based nail polish remover into a small cup or the nail polish remover bottle cap. Dip a cotton swab into the solution and gently massage over the remaining glue on your skin. Be careful not to touch your nails!

    Step 4

    Dry your nails and fingers using a clean cotton pad. Use a clean, new toothbrush or a nail brush to brush off any excess glue.

    Wash your hands with soap and water to cleanse off any nail polish remover residue.

    Step 5

    Apply cuticle oil to rehydrate and nourish your fingers. You may follow by using a hydrating hand cream, but avoid application on your fake nails.

    Zohna Tip

    Use hand cream without 'petrolatum'. Petrolatum is the key ingredient in products like Polysporin, and is mineral oil jelly. It provides initial lubrication but dries out your skin!

    Alternative Ways for How to Get Nail Glue off Skin Without Acetone

    If you don’t have an acetone-based nail polish remover or you’d prefer not to use one, you can similarly use household products to the steps above:

    • Petroleum jelly
    • Hand lotion
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Salt-paste (2 teaspoons of salt mixed with a few drops of water)

    Here are step-by-step instructions for how to get nail glue off the skin without acetone:

    1. Soak a cotton ball with warm water and apply to the affected to loosen the glue
    2. Apply a small amount of the chosen product to the glue (petroleum jelly, hand lotion, rubbing alcohol, or salt paste)
    3. Rub in circular motions for a few minutes
    4. Wait for the glue to soften and separate
    5. Wash hands with soap and water to remove excess glue and product

    Zohna Tip

    You can gently use a wet pumice stone to remove nail glue without using any other products!

    How to Get Nail Glue off Skin with E-File

    If you’re the proud owner of an electric nail drill of ‘e-file’ you can use your nail drill on a low setting with a fine-coarse bit to break up and remove nail glue from the skin around the cuticle.

    Several different nail drill bits can be used to remove nail glue from the skin gently.

    The table below outlines which bits can be most helpful for removing nail glue from skin.

    Nail Drill Bit Description
    Safety Bits Designed for working on the cuticle
    Cone Bits Remove product around the cuticle
    Flame Bits Used to clean up polish and touchups

    How to Get Nail Glue Off Your Nails

    You decided you’re sick of your glue on nails and want to know how to get nail glue off your nails. When you no longer care about keeping fake nails looking pretty, you can soak your fingers for easier nail and nail glue removal.

    If you try to pry or pick off artificial nails, you can guarantee you’ll be left with sticky residue or chunks of acrylic. Stop picking! Follow these easy steps to remove nail glue from nails without damaging your nail bed.

    Before you begin, check out the supplies you need in the table below.

    What You Need What It Is For
    Small bowl of warm water mixed with liquid hand soap Soaking your fingertips
    Argan oil or baby oil (optional) Added to the warm water to help lift glue
    Cotton pads To soak the nail in acetone and dry nails
    Orangewood manicure stick or cuticle clippers To peel off lose glue
    Acetone-based nail polish remover product Liquid used to break down the bonds in the dried nail glue
    Nail File or Buffer For buffing off excess glue
    Cuticle oil (optional) For rehydrating your skin

    Step 1

    Soak your hands or just your fingers in warm water mixed liquid hand soap for 15 minutes. You can add a few drops of cuticle oil, argan oil, or baby oil to help loosen the glue while softening your nail bed and cuticles.

    Step 2


    Use a cotton pad to wipe nails in a circular motion to remove excess glue.

    Step 3

    Take your orangewood stick or cuticle clippers and remove any excess stubborn glue. If it’s not coming off easily, proceed with using acetone. You want to avoid accidentally peeling off the top layer of your nail.

    Step 4

    If you still have nail glue or product stuck to your nail plate, repeat the above steps with warm water mixed with equal parts of acetone-based nail polish remover. If you don’t want to use acetone, you can repeat the steps and soak your nails in slightly warmer water.

    Zohna Tip

    Doing your dishes with warm water and dish soap without gloves is a great way to loosen nail glue while accomplishing some housework!

    Step 5

    Cleanse each fingernail with a cotton pad soaked in acetone-based nail polish remover. Rub each nail like you would when removing nail polish.

    Step 6

    Use a 240-grit nail file or a nail buffer to exfoliate off any remaining glue or product from your nail bed. 240-grit is the soft fine, grit nail file that will effectively shape nails and remove the product. You can also use an e-file with a mandrel bit and low-grit sanding band.

    Step 7

    Finish by washing your hands to remove any soap or acetone residue. Apply cuticle oil to rehydrate and nourish your nail beds.

    What to Avoid When Using Nail Glue

    Nail glue is a harmless product that causes minimal damage to your natural nails. Follow the ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ below to ensure a proper application and to remove nail glue from your nails and skin safely.

    Do’s Don’ts
    Prepare your nail beds Use a cheap nail glue
    Try non-acetone removal first Pick or force the glue off
    Use a minimal amount of glue Apply glue to all fingernails at once

    Best Nail Glue for Glue On Nails

    Most sets of glue on nails come with a tube of nail glue. While it may get the job done, cheaper nail glues are more likely to cause clumps and get on your skin. Consider buying a separate professional-quality nail glue to avoid unwanted nail glue on the skin.

    Nailene Ultra Quick Nail Glue

    10/31/2023 07:56 pm GMT

    Nailene Ultra Quick Nail Glue is an extra-strength nail glue for gluing on nails and artificial nail tips. The formula offers a precise, dripless application and dries within just five seconds of application. It is also effective for nail repair.

    Other features of this product include:

    • Drippless formula
    • Precise application
    • Quick-drying
    • Low price

    NYK1 Superstrong Nailbond

    Super Strong Nail Glue
    $12.99 ($48.11 / Fl Oz)
    10/31/2023 07:30 pm GMT

    NYK1 Superstrong Nailbond is a brush-on nail glue for acrylic nails, artificial nail tips and glue on nails. The extra-strength formula is designed to keep your artificial nails intact during workouts, extensive office work, and housework.

    It is easy to use, as well as offering:

    • Brush on application
    • Award-winning beauty product
    • Includes a ‘How To’ guide for applying glue on nails

    How to Prepare Nails for Nail Glue

    The best way to avoid having clumpy glue on and around your nails and on your skin is to prepare your nails before the glue application properly. Give yourself a mini manicure before applying press on nails.

    Here’s how to prepare nails for nail glue for the best chances of success:

    1. Prepare cuticles by pushing them back with a cuticle pusher
    2. Remove excess cuticle skin with cuticle clippers or an e-file
    3. Wipe nails with rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad to remove excess oil
    4. Dry nails with a clean cotton pad
    5. Buff natural nail bed all over with a manual nail buffer or an e-file with a mandrel bit and sanding band
    6. File nails down to a comfortable length
    7. Match fingernails with the fake nails before applying the nails with glue

    How to Apply Nail Glue

    Applying nail glue and glue on nails correctly is a whole other tutorial.

    However, keep these tips in mind when you apply nail glue to glue on nails:

    • Glue nails one at a time. Do not apply glue to all of your nails at once first, as the glue dries fast and it will cause uneven lumps.
    • Apply a tiny drop of nail glue to the fake nail and a tiny drop to your nail bed. A drop the size of a lentil or sequin will do.
    • Apply the nail glue in the center of your nail bed to avoid it spreading over your cuticles.
    • Wipe off excess glue before it dries with an orangewood stick.


    • What Removes Nail Glue?

      While acetone is the most effective way to remove nail glue from skin and nails, there are several other products you can use to remove nail glue, including:

      • Petroleum jelly
      • Hand lotion
      • Salt paste (2 teaspoons of salt mixed with a few drops of water)
      • Manual nail buffing
      • Hot water
    • How to Get Nail Glue off Your Hand?

      You can use an acetone-based nail polish remover or an acetone alternative the same way you remove nail glue off the skin around your nails. Lightly scrubbing the affected area of your hand with soap and water or a damp washcloth is effective too.

    Final Thoughts

    Relax! A little nail glue on your skin is no reason to panic. Applying nail glue and glue on nails takes practice – you just gotta stick with it!