How To Remove Gel Nails?
How To Remove Gel Nails: It’s easy to wax poetic over the benefits of a gel manicure—two weeks of chip-free wear and glossy shine? Yes, please! Removing the LED-cured lacquer, however, is another story. Once the free edge around the cuticle starts to lift, it takes all of our self-control trying (and sometimes failing…) not to rip all ten shells from our digits, which can cause major damage to the natural nail bed underneath.
Whether you’re wearing a gel manicure from the salon or your own handiwork, we rounded up three foolproof DIY ways to remove the product. No matter the method you choose, make sure you shield the skin around the nail with a preventative layer of Vaseline, as each involves acetone. Follow your technique of choice with an ample amount of cuticle oil or cream, like Lush’s Lemony Flutter ($20; lushusa.com) afterward to restore moisture, and if you must re-shellac your nails, give them a few hours to breathe before applying another layer.
Find a Well-Ventilated Space
Give yourself plenty of time for the removal process and most importantly, do it in a well-ventilated area so you’re not breathing in all that acetone, says nail expert Jenna Hipp. The process can’t really be done in a rush — you’ll need about 30 minutes. Consider this a good time to catch up on your Netflix queue.
Break Out the Nail File
Before you break out the nail polish remover, grab a coarse nail file (Saulsbery likes the Hand and Nail Harmony 180/180 File $6) and gently and slowly sand down the top layer of gel polish.
How To Remove Gel Nails At Home
Gently buff the top of your gels
When we say gently, we mean very gently, and be careful not to scratch the cuticles and surrounding skin. Always use a buffer with a low ‘grit’, which measures how abrasive the buffer is (go for around the 100 to 300 mark). This breaks the uppermost seal of the gel formula, to allow for the nail polish remover to penetrate more effectively.
Wrap your nails
Before you get going, it’s a good idea to apply a generous layer of Vaseline to the cuticle area and skin around the nails to protect it from the drying effect of the remover. You’ll need to buy nail polish remover with acetone in it, otherwise it won’t be able to break down the gel formula. Cut your cotton pads into 10 small squares (one for each nail) and then cut ten strips of tin foil.
Soak each cotton pad in the acetone and place on top of your buffed nail. Wrap the strip of tin foil on top and twist to secure. Repeat for all ten nails and leave for 10 – 15 minutes. If you find this a bit of a faff, then you can buy special clips, which do the same job as the tin foil, stay in place properly and can be reused again and again (we tried these, and were seriously impressed). Or, if time is of the essence, try these clever remover clips from KISS with one touchscreen compatible tip so you can continue to scroll the ‘gram while you soak. Genius, right?
Remove the foil and cotton pads
Don’t worry if your gels are still on – that’s ok. By now, they’ll be soft which means you can oh-so-gently remove them using a wooden Orange Stick or cuticle pusher. If the gel is still too hard to coax off, you’ll need to wrap them again. Sorry, it’s the only way.
Nourish and replenish
Your nails will be feeling a little delicate from the gels and the acetone, so make sure you replenish lost moisture and support healthy growth with a rich oil. We love Loubelle Dadi’Oil (£10.49), which contains 21 nourishing natural oils and is a firm fave among the pros, or you can use anything with almond oil in it (nails *love* almond oil). Simply add a small drop to each nail and massage it into each nail bed and surrounding cuticle. Finish off with a generous dollop of hand cream and bask in your nails’ natural beauty.
How To Remove Gel Nails Without Acetone
File Them Off
You can always file those gel nails off, but only if you know how to proceed
- Trim your nails first.First, use a good nail clipper to trim your nails as short as you possible. Then, using a file, file them down. This is also helpful if the nails seem too thick to cut with your regular nail clipper.
- File down the surface of your nails. For this, you will need a coarse-grit file around 180 grit. Be sure to file gently and move in crosshatches to maintain a smooth look. Move the file around your nail to avoid feeling any burning sensation. Move slowly and do not worry about the time it takes – do not rush! Filing too quickly may damage the natural nail underneath. And, remember to always wipe dust away as you continue to file.
- Stop filing once you see the natural nail. If you continue once you see your natural nail, you may damage the it. You are close to your natural nail if you notice a decrease in dust from filing or see the natural ridges in your nail.
Peel Them Off
Instead of filing away your gel manicure, you can also peel the gel nails off (when they are mostly chipped). It usually takes a week or two for gel to chip off, so you should wait until this begins to happen before you start peeling them yourself. Here are the steps for gel polish removal without using acetone in this process:
- Take a cuticle stick and insert it gently under the surface of your gel nail. Work it slowly under the surface and you will notice the gel moving up around the edge. Avoid digging too hard under the gel because it may damage your natural nail.
- Slowly peel off the gel. You can use of a pair of tweezers or simply use your fingers to grasp that raised edge of the gel. Now, peel it back and repeat the same on all your fingernails.
Soak Them Off
In case you do not get desired results from filing or peeling, here comes one more method of gel polish removal without using acetone.
- Take a small bowl and fill it with warm water. Add a couple drops of dish soap in the bowl along with a teaspoon of salt.
- Put your hand in the bowl and keep your hand emerged in the solution for about 15-20 minutes. Make sure the water is warm enough or this process won’t work.
How To Remove Gel Acrylic Nails
Acrylic nails are fun because they are low maintenance but they do damage your real nails. Before losing your fake nails at the grocery store, remove them without damaging your nails too much. Pour acetone in a bowl and warm it up by placing that bowl in a larger bowl with hot water. Soak your fingers in the acetone-filled bowl for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, make sure you hydrate your nails with coconut oil or rich moisturizing cream to keep your nails from getting brittle.