Can You Remove SNS With Nail Polish Remover?

Very beautiful red nails close up.
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Signature Nail Systems nails, aka SNS nails or dip powder nails – are durable, last for ages, look natural, and come in pretty much any color you can imagine. They’re a great alternative to acrylic, gel, shellac, and traditional nail polishes.

Unlike regular nail polish, dip powder nails follow a multi-step process that includes multiple layers of resin and dip powder, an activator, and a topcoat. So you can imagine, removing dip powder nails is also a more involved process than simply removing regular nail polish.

So if you’re wondering – can you remove SNS nails with nail polish remover? – The answer is: not without seriously damaging your nails!

But surely, there must be a way to remove SNS nails at home without having to spend the time and money going back to the salon to get it done, right?

In this article, we are going to take a look at SNS nails, what they are, and how they are applied. More importantly, we’ll look at why you shouldn’t try to remove SNS nails with regular nail polish remover. We’ll show you how to properly and safely remove SNS nails at home.


What Are SNS Nails?

Dip powder manicures are often called ‘SNS nails’. SNS is actually a name brand of dip powder, like people call tissue, Kleenex or adhesive bandages, Band-Aids. 

Instead of using a traditional “painting on” application of regular nail polish, color and designs are applied to your nails with powder and glue, which together create a long-lasting bond on your nails.

Just as the name suggests, you literally dip your fingernails into a pot of colored powder, which is then secured with a bonding liquid.

Something to note – if you are getting dip powder nails done at the salon, they should not be dipping your nails into a pot!

They should actually be using a brush to apply the dip powder.

Dipping your nails into a pot that other people have dipped their nails into is a great way to get nail fungus and other infections.

Can You Remove SNS Nails With Nail Polish Remover?

Do not attempt to remove dip powder nails with nail polish remover if you value the health of your nails.

If you want to remove your SNS nails at home, you need pure acetone .

Nail polish remover is not strong enough to remove SNS nails properly.

The SNS Nails will require filing and scraping to fully remove the fake nail. This is where the damage is done.

Do your nails a favor and use only pure acetone.

Nail polish remover is not strong enough to remove SNS nails properly.

Will Rubbing Alcohol Remove Dip Nails?

Rubbing alcohol is often touted as an acetone-free way to remove SNS nails. True, like using nail polish remover, you may eventually get it off with tons of scraping and filing. But we strongly recommend you DO NOT use rubbing alcohol to try to remove dip powder nails.

Here’s why:

While acetone will soften SNS nails to the point where you can easily wipe them away, rubbing alcohol will only soften them enough to allow you to file them off.

That’s SO bad for your nails.

In addition, rubbing alcohol will only soften one layer of your manicure at a time. So you will have to repeat soaking your nails in the rubbing alcohol as many times as you have layers.

Depending on the color you choose or desired effect of your dip powder nails, you may have ‘dipped’ two or three times, followed by resin for each dip.

That’s a lot of layers! It will take so much longer, which in turn means your nails are exposed to the drying alcohol for a much longer period of time than they would be to acetone.

Rubbing alcohol is not only extremely drying and irritating to the skin, but may be cytotoxic. Extended exposure to alcohol fumes can also make you sick.

Why Use Acetone?

We all know that anything that’s also used as a paint stripper can’t possibly be good for you! So why is acetone the nail salon professional’s go-to for removal in the first place?

Acetone is the most effective method to remove gel, acrylic, shellac, and dip powder nails.

Period. It’s as simple as that.

It is the best at getting the job done the fastest, and this is why:

Acetone molecules have a stronger pull on the nail polish polymers, causing them to break down at a rapid rate. It’s the chemical reaction that occurs that reverts the hardened polish to its liquid form, making it easy to wipe away and fully remove.

There is nothing on the market that removes gel, acrylic, shellac and dip powder (SNS) nails faster, more completely and with less damage to the nails.

That’s not to say people don’t love the idea of removing manicures without acetone.

How Do You Remove Dip Powder Nails With Acetone?

Removing SNS nails with acetone is a relatively easy 4 step process. Follow the steps below to ensure you are removing your dip powder nails properly, without damaging your nails.

What You’ll need:

  • Nail file
  • Pure acetone
  • Cotton balls and foil (or a small bowl)
  • Towel
  • An orangewood stick cuticle pusher

Step #1: Buff down the top coat

With a fine grit nail file, buff down the shiny top coat until it’s no longer shiny. Your nails should have an almost white powdery appearance. This step is important in order to allow the acetone to dissolve the dip powder under the top coat.

Step #2: Prep

Before soaking, apply a very thin layer of petroleum jelly to each cuticle (not the nail!). This will help protect the surrounding skin from drying out from the acetone.

Step #3: Soak nails in acetone

There are two ways to do an acetone soak:

A.      Let nails sit in a bowl of acetone, or…

B.      Soak one cotton ball in acetone for each nail. Place on the nail and wrap in tin foil. This will prevent the acetone from evaporating and keep the cotton balls from falling off.

Let sit for 10-20 minutes. If you got fancy with designs and there are lots of layers, you may need to soak closer to 20 minutes.

Tip: Acetone is also used in paint strippers, so choose your work surface accordingly (i.e. not over your wooden family heirloom coffee table), and use a towel underneath.

Step #4: Rub off the polish

Remove your nails from the bowl, or unwrap tin foil and remove cotton balls.

Use a fresh cotton ball dipped in acetone to rub off the powder polish.

Pro Tip: If using the tin foil method, after soaking, remove only one foil and try to remove the polish. If it does not come off, keep soaking for another 5-10 minutes. (It’s a lot easier to only have to re-wrap one finger!)

You should only need to do this process once.

You can also use an orangewood stick to help remove the polish. The polish should be soft enough after spacing in the acetone that you should not be scraping it off, but pushing it off. 

Take Away

Can you remove SNS nails with nail polish remover? Technically you can. It just takes a whole lot of scraping and filing.

All of the other acetone-free methods, whether it be hot water or vinegar or rubbing alcohol, like the nail polish remover, will also require scraping and filing to remove dip powder nails. This will damage your natural nails.

Use pure acetone to remove dip powder nails. Acetone may be drying. But it is far better for removing SNS nails than the acetone-free methods.

And although acetone can be drying, nail dryness can be very easily corrected by using a nail and cuticle conditioning oil or simply by rubbing Vaseline or castor oil on your nails once a day to keep them hydrated.

BARIELLE 100% Natural Cuticle Conditioner with Almond & Vitamin E 1 oz.
BARIELLE 100% Natural Cuticle Conditioner with Almond & Vitamin E 1 oz.
Cuticle Care Products Proudly Made in USA
$8.99 Amazon Prime
CND SolarOil Cuticle Oil, Natural Blend Of Jojoba, Vitamin E, Rice Bran and Sweet Almond Oils, Moisturizes and Conditions Skin, Pack Of 1, 0.25 oz.
CND SolarOil Cuticle Oil, Natural Blend Of Jojoba, Vitamin E, Rice Bran and Sweet Almond Oils, Moisturizes and Conditions Skin, Pack Of 1, 0.25 oz.
Keeps natural nails, nail polish and nail enhancements tough and flexible; Compatible with other nail treatments, CND Shellac, Vinylux, Plexigel, Brisa, and L&P
$9.68 Amazon Prime
Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil, 0.45 Fl Oz, Packaging may vary
Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil, 0.45 Fl Oz, Packaging may vary
Softens and conditions cuticles.; Helps nourish dry nails and cuticles.; Natural essential oil comple moisturizes with Vitamin E, Apricot Kernel and Aloe.
$5.68 Amazon Prime

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).