How To Remove Gel Manicure At Home: Tried And Tested Ways

Written by , MA (Mass Communication & Media Studies) Esha Saxena MA (Mass Communication & Media Studies) Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on

For some of us, sitting back and getting our nails done is the perfect way to de-stress and unwind on a Sunday afternoon. But, let’s fast-forward to about two weeks later when your gorgeous gel mani starts to wear off. It has chipped, grown-out, and looks unsightly now. In reality, you can’t always make a trip to the salon just to take off your gel polish. That won’t work for a lot of us for a lot of reasons. Wouldn’t it be nice to be self-reliant in times of such a crisis? That is why we have put together some DIY ways to take off your gel nail polish at home without damaging your nails. Read on to find out more.

The Best Ways To Remove Gel Manicure At Home

1. Removing Gel Nail Polish Using Acetone And Foil

The first technique involves covering your nails with cotton balls soaked in acetone and then wrapping aluminum foil around them. This is one of the safest and most effective ways to remove gel nail polish. If you visit the salon to get your gel mani removed, you will notice that even they use the same method.

What You Need

  • 10-15 cotton balls
  • 10-15 strips of aluminum foils (big enough to wrap around your fingers)
  • Pure acetone
  • Gritty nail file
  • Orange stick
  • Petroleum jelly

Step-By-Step Tutorial

Step 1: Remove Shiny Top Coat

Remove Shiny Top Coat
Image: Shutterstock

The first thing you need to do is break out your nail file and get rid of the shiny top coat that keeps the polish from chipping. Your chances of successfully removing the polish are higher once this layer is gone. Grab a gritty nail file and buff away the top coat. You should have nails that look matte and rough. Be careful to not file beyond the top coat as you may come too close to your real nail and damage it.

Step 2: Apply Petroleum Jelly

Apply Petroleum Jelly
Image: Shutterstock

Next, apply petroleum jelly to the skin around your nails. This will protect your skin from the drying effects of acetone. You can also use cuticle oil or a thick cream instead of petroleum jelly.

Step 3: Place The Cotton Balls Over Your Nails

Place The Cotton Balls Over Your Nails
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Soak a few cotton balls in 100% pure acetone and be generous with it. Place these soaked cotton balls on each nail.

Step 4: Wrap The Aluminium Foil

Wrap The Aluminium Foil
Image: Shutterstock

Wrap the cut pieces of aluminum foil over the cotton balls. The foil will prevent the acetone from evaporating and help it soak into the gel polish. Wait for about 15-20 minutes. Yes, it is a time-consuming process. But hey, you got to enjoy your gel manicure for two weeks, didn’t you? Be patient and relax (catch up on some Netflix if you want!).

Step 5: Check Whether The Polish Has Come Off

Check Whether The Polish Has Come Off
Image: Shutterstock

After about 20 minutes, the gel polish should look as if it has lifted and is falling off the nail. You should be able to remove the remaining polish with little to no pressure using an orange stick.

Step 6: Clean And Wash Your Hands

Clean And Wash Your Hands
Image: Shutterstock

Clean any leftover polish and wash your hands with some mild soap to get rid of any acetone residue that is left on your fingers. Once you are done, complete the process by applying a nail oil or a hand cream to protect your nails and the skin around them.

2. Removing Gel Nail Polish By “Soaking”

Removing Gel Nail Polish By “Soaking”
Image: Shutterstock

Soaking your nails in acetone is another way to remove gel nail polish. However, this process takes longer and is not the most ideal method as it involves directly soaking your fingernails in acetone.

What You Need

  • One large bowl
  • One medium bowl
  • Pure acetone
  • Gritty nail file
  • Orange stick
  • Petroleum jelly

Step By Step Tutorial

Step 1: Pour Acetone Into Warm Water

Pour Acetone Into Warm Water
Image: Shutterstock

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Make sure the water is warm and not hot. Then, pour the acetone into a medium-sized bowl and place it inside the large bowl to achieve a double-boiler effect. Let the bowl sit for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 2: Buff Away The Top Coat

Buff Away The Top Coat
Image: Shutterstock

In the meantime, much like the previous method, buff away the top coat layer with a gritty nail file. Once you are done, it should look matte. Coat the skin around the nails in petroleum jelly to protect it from the drying effects of acetone.

Step 3: Soak Your Fingers In Warm Acetone

Soak Your Fingers In Warm Acetone
Image: Shutterstock

Place your fingers in the warm acetone and let soak them for about 10-15 minutes or until the polish begins to flake off.

Step 4: Take Off The Edges Of Flaking Polish

Take Off The Edges Of Flaking Polish
Image: Shutterstock

Use an orange stick or your nails to push at the edges of the flaking polish. It should easily come off. If it is still stubborn, soak them in acetone for a while longer.

Step 5: Clean And Wash Your Hands

 Clean And Wash Your Hands1
Image: Shutterstock

Clean up any leftover polish and wash your hands with soap to completely remove the acetone from your fingers. Your nails will probably look and feel dry at this point, so make sure to moisturize them with a nail cream and cuticle oil.

Note: You can also remove gel nails without acetone, but we would not recommend it. However, if you are desperate and are prepared for the nail damage, proceed with caution to the next method.

3. How To Remove Gel Nail Polish Without Acetone

1. File Them Off

  • Cut your nails so that they are short and manageable.
  • Using a coarse grit nail file, file your nails down slowly. Keep blowing the dust away to check how far you are from your natural nail to avoid damaging it.
  • Once you almost reach your natural nail, switch over to a softer nail file that is not as harsh and does not damage your nails as much. Again, take your time with the filing process to make sure you are not filing off your real nail.
  • Once you file off all of the gel polish, wash your nails with soap. Make sure to apply some oil all over the nails to provide maximum nourishment. They desperately need them after all that filing.

2. Soak And Peel Off Acrylic Nails

This is another technique that is highly unadvisable, but if you have no other option, proceed with caution.

  • Soak your nails in warm water, or just start the process after taking a hot shower.
  • While your nails are still wet, use a cuticle stick to push back the polish near a chipped edge.
  • It should be easy to peel them off at this point.
  • Peel off as much as you can, and if any parts are stubborn, file them off.

Caution: If the gel nails are not peeling off quickly, don’t attempt this method as you may peel off your real nail.

There you go! Two sure shot methods to safely get rid of gel nail polish. You no longer need to break your schedule, spend time and money, and go all the way to the salon to get your gel polish removed. Now that you know how to take off gel nail polish, what are you waiting for? Try out these methods and let us know about your experience in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to peel off gel nail polish?

No, peeling off gel polish is a terrible idea. When you peel off a gel manicure, you don’t just peel off the polish. You also peel off the top few layers of your nails as well. This can lead to cracking or brittle nails that weaken over time.

Can gel polish be removed with nail polish remover?

No, regular nail polish remover contains diluted acetone. Pure acetone is your best bet to effectively and quickly break down gel polish.

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Esha Saxena
Esha SaxenaBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Esha Saxena is a writer and journalist with over 3 years of experience. She holds a master’s degree in media and mass communication from St. Francis College for Women, Hyderabad, and firmly believes that makeup is nothing less than art.

Read full bio of Esha Saxena
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