You may not have had reason to wonder how to remove gel nail polish before, but if you’re currently avoiding your salon and going the DIY nail route instead, it’s important to learn how to do it properly. Just ripping off your gel manicure is not a good idea. Everything might appear to be okay to the naked eye, but you actually strip the delicate layers of the nail plate (the hard part of the nail that grows out) when you tear your gel nails off this way, and it can potentially cause permanent damage.
Here are a few easy-to-follow steps to get similar results at home.
Protect your cuticles
Acetone, which you’ll need to remove your gels, can wreak havoc on the skin around your nails, so you need to protect your poor cuticles. Before you soak, protect the surrounding areas with cuticle oil. There’s no need to get a fancy speciality cuticle oil unless you want to. A tried-and-true quick home remedy is Vaseline. The petroleum jelly will create a barrier to minimize the acetone’s damage.
Loosen up the top layer with a coarse nail file
The gel topcoat is a tough nearly impermeable layer that seals the colour in place—that’s why gel manicures are able to last for weeks instead of days. Scratching the surface with a coarse nail file will help the acetone to penetrate without a hitch. When filing, apply a light and parallel pressure, which will help you avoid scratching the nail plate underneath.
Soak your nails in acetone using cotton balls and aluminium foil
Acetone is stronger and more effective than non-acetone nail polish remover, making it exactly what you need to remove your gel nail polish. Drench some cotton balls with the stuff, then hold them in place on your nails by wrapping each finger with aluminium foil. This traps in heat to help the gel break down faster. Gel polish formulas vary in strength, so the wait time can be anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes. If you don’t get it exactly right, you can always rewrap and keep on soaking.
Gently scrape away the layers and soak again if needed
Once you give the acetone time to work its magic, grab the file (or a wooden orange stick) and continue to gently scrape the layers to safely remove the gel polish from your nail. If you’ve soaked long enough, the first few coats will begin to peel off easily. If you encounter more resistant layers, you’ll need to loosen them up with another acetone soak. Repeat the soaking-and-scraping method until you’ve safely removed all of the colors, including the base coat.
Wash up and moisturize
After you finish soaking in acetone, you want to make sure that you wash thoroughly. Put on another coat of cuticle oil. Also, keep the habit up for a few days just to replenish the moisture in your nails since acetone can be so harsh.