How to Remove Gel Nail Polish

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As we navigate these challenging times, many of us are begging to know when we will be able to get a professional manicure again. Whether you had your gels done before the stay-at-home order started, or you followed our instructions to getting a perfect gel mani at home, they’ve probably grown out and it’s time to make a change. So, here is another DIY to add to your repertoire: how remove your gel nail polish from the comfort of your home.

What You Will Need:

– Manicure brush

– Cotton balls or cotton pads (cut into halves or thirds)

– Acetone-based nail polish remover

– Aluminum foil cut into squares

– A nail file

– A buffer (if needed)

– Reusable, or orange wood, cuticle stick

– Rubbing alcohol

– Cuticle Oil (if you don’t have this at home, use coconut, grapeseed or olive oil as an alternative)

– Nail strengthener (we recommend you have this on hand before attempting to remove gel)

Note: If you do not have everything you need to remove gel nail polish at home, reach out to us via Instagram or email to ask for a small gel removal rescue kit to send your way.


How to Remove Gel Nail Polish

Step 1

Use a nail file to break the seal on each nail’s free edge and side walls. The key here is to remove as much of the shine as you can, but to not file down to your natural nail. Light pressure is ideal.

Step 2

Fully saturate a cotton ball with nail polish remover, place it directly on top of the nail ensuring the entire nail gets covered, then wrap both the cotton ball and the nail in your foil square.

Step 3

Allow to soak for at least 15-20 minutes. For added heat, you can wrap hands in a towel, just make sure you have turned your favorite show or podcast on beforehand. As tempting as it might be, try not to peek. Let the remover do its thing and allow for enough time to break down the gel.

Step 4

After 15 minutes, start by gently pressing and twisting the foil and cotton off each nail, working with one nail at a time. The cotton ball or pad should have a fair amount of gel residue attached to it.

Step 5

Take a cuticle stick and gently push the remaining gel residue off each nail, working from the cuticle area towards the free edge.

Step 6

For any nails with remaining residue after removing with the cuticle stick, repeat steps 2-5. Once all residue is fully removed, lightly cleanse the nail surface with a cotton ball (or pad) and rubbing alcohol.

Step 7

Keep your nails strong. We suggest using your favorite nail strengthener to ensure your nails stay as healthy as possible, until we can all get back into the spa to see our favorite nail technicians.

Step 8

Moisturize. Be sure to apply cuticle oil to keep nails protected and moisturized!


How to remove gel nail polish without acetone

If you do not have access to acetone remover, we have an alternative solution that can work in the interim. While we do not recommend this as an everyday technique because it can thin your nails, what you can do is grab a medium-grit nail file to remove the shine and the color layers. Once you have reached the base coat, switch over to a buffer to smooth everything out. Remove any dust with a soft towel and wipe away with alcohol-soaked cotton pad. Be sure to put moisture back into your nails with cuticle oil as the final step.


Are you hands wishing they had some pampering too? Be sure to read our at-home hand care tutorial to smoothe and soothe that dry, cracked skin.


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