Soaking it All Off: How to Remove Gel Nails at Home

Before picking a method for removing your nail polish, begin with the steps below to ensure the most efficient and timely removal:

  • Set up in a well-ventilated area. Last thing you want is to get a migraine from inhaling the potent fumes from your nail polish remover, especially if you are using acetone.
  • Prep your nail surface. The key to efficient gel polish removal is to roughen the surface of the nail polish. The nail file shouldn’t be used to file off the polish — the goal is to remove the shine from the top layer of your gel polish so that the acetone can successfully penetrate through.
  • Protect your cuticles and skin. Applying cuticle oil or petroleum jelly to the skin around your nails before applying the acetone will create a protective barrier from the harsh substance.

Soaking

The soaking method is the simplest way to remove your gel polish without the use of a lot of tools.

  1. Fill a small bowl with just enough acetone nail polish remover to cover your fingertips.
  2. Soak your fingertips in acetone for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Check to see if your polish has started to lift away from the nail and gently scrape off the loose polish with a cuticle stick.
  4. When all of the polish has been scraped off, gently buff your nails to smooth the surface.
  5. Apply a small amount of cuticle oil to your cuticles to rehydrate them.

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The Edward Scissorhands (ie. cotton ball soak with tinfoil wraps or plastic wrap)

Since acetone is notorious for drying out your skin, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) supports this method for safely removing your gel manicure. It allows for acetone to remain more concentrated to your nail, reducing exposure to surrounding skin surfaces and is just as effective as soaking.

  1. Cut tinfoil or plastic wrap into ten squares of approximately 1-1.5 square inches. Each piece should be large enough to completely cover your fingertip while securing a small cotton ball against your fingernail.
  2. Gently file the top of your manicure to allow the acetone to penetrate and lift the gel polish away from your natural nail surface.
  3. Soak a cotton ball in acetone, and place it on your fingernail starting with your non-dominant hand.
  4. Take one tinfoil square and wrap it over the acetone-soaked cotton ball to secure it to your nail.
  5. Allow your nails to soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Check to see if your polish has started to lift away from the nail and gently scrape off the loose polish with a cuticle stick.
  7. Apply a small amount of cuticle oil to your cuticles to rehydrate them.

Non-acetone removal

To remove gel nail polish without acetone you will need water, a cuticle stick, a buffer, moisturizer and cuticle oil.

  1. Soak your fingers in very warm water for 20 minutes.
  2. Locate a loose spot between the polish and your nail. Using your fingernail or a cuticle stick, gently lift up the loosen part of the gel polish.
  3. Pour some water over the lifted part and simultaneously use your fingernail to gently raise it even more.
  4. If needed, soak your nails again in the warm water to continue loosening the polish and repeat.
  5. Now being very careful, use a buffer to remove the residue of the gel nail polish.
  6. Apply cuticle oil on the cuticles and moisturizer on the nails.

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References

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About the Author: Tung Chi