Our Best Tips For Getting Nail Glue Off Your Skin Without Causing Irritation

In a world of ever-changing nail trends, press-on nails are a fantastic option for those who want to be in style. You can change your manicure as often as you want, and doing so won't break the bank. In other words, press-on nails are a fashionista's dream.


But as much as this type of manicure is great, it's not without its downsides. Press-on nails require nail glue and even if you're an expert in your application of them, accidentally getting the glue on your skin isn't uncommon. "If you apply too much on the nail, the excess glue can seep out of the edges and get stuck on the skin," marketing associate at Bellacure Rianna Basurto told InStyle. "Nail glue can be difficult to remove because of the chemicals in it that make it a strong, long-lasting adhesive." Although nail glue on your skin isn't a life-or-death situation, it can definitely cause irritation. Because of this, getting it off your skin without damaging it is essential.

Nail polish remover

If you're big into doing your nails at home, then you probably already have nail polish remover on hand which makes this method of removal easy — just make sure it contains acetone. Acetone is a pretty heavy-duty solvent and thanks to that, it gently breaks down the glue, freeing its tight grip on your skin.


For this removal option, all you need — in addition to the acetone nail polish remover — is a cotton ball, swab, or round, and a toothbrush. Saturate the swab, then rub it along where the glue is. You want to apply some pressure so the acetone can really get in there and work its magic. Once the glue starts to crack, grab the toothbrush and scrub it away. If you don't have a spare toothbrush on hand, you can also use a nail file. Make sure you moisturize afterward because acetone can be really drying, per Pure Wow.


If you want to stay away from the harsh stuff and stick to something that's kinder on the skin, then Vaseline, Aquaphor, or any other oily substance are non-drying options for removing nail glue from the skin. The oil in these products breaks down the cyanoacrylate bond in the glue so it can easily be removed, per Cleveland Clinic.


Like you would with the acetone, apply the oily substance of your choice to the spot where the glue is stuck and massage it. Because it's not as intense as acetone, it will probably take a couple of minutes before the glue breaks down enough to remove it. While it will take a bit longer, don't be aggressive with your massaging technique. As much as petroleum jelly and Aquaphor are relatively harmless to the skin, overly applying pressure to the area can cause irritation. Wash away the oily substance when you're done — especially before you touch your clothing.

Soap and water

The key to using soap (hand or dish will do) and water to remove nail glue is to do it before the glue hardens. In other words, you want to lather up the second you notice the glue on your skin. If you don't realize that the glue is there until later, then soap and water likely won't cut it.


"Wash the area with soap and warm water," dermatologist John Anthony, MD told Cleveland Clinic. "Hand soap or dish soap works well. Washing it off will usually soften the glue and break the bond — if you do it before the glue hardens." According to L'Oréal Paris, this method is going to take the most amount of time — possibly as long as 40 minutes, so you're going to want to lean into your patient side. In a bowl large enough to soak the area where the glue is, make a soapy water concoction and submerge your hand. When the glue breaks down, wipe it away, then moisturize.

Hand lotion

Like Vaseline and Aquaphor, it's the oily base that allows hand lotion to break down nail glue and, because it's made for hands, there's little to no risk of there being an irritation. Choose your favorite lotion and massage it onto the spot where the glue is, then when the glue has cracked enough for easy removal, wash it off. Pat dry, then moisturize.


The most important part about removing nail glue from your hand is not to pick at the glue without a substance to help break it down first. "You could injure the skin and end up with a painful blister," dermatologist John Anthony, MD told Cleveland Clinic. "And don't use sharp objects like razors, nails, or knives." Of course, the best way to avoid any of this is to not get glue on your skin in the first place, but accidents happen even to press-on aficionados.