I recently got a gel nail polish manicure for the first time in my life. Many people found this shocking, but I’ve always been too concerned about what it might do to my nails. Could the gel destroy my healthy, virgin nails? Would it make my nails become brittle and easily breakable? Would it affect my cuticle or smoothness of my natural nail? These are all fair questions that myself and many others have pre-gel. And all of this can be answered and avoided in a proper gel removal.
You might want to remove your gel for a few reasons: Chipping, overgrowing of the cuticle, and broken nails. But when you look up how long it will take (20 extra minutes), you decide you don’t have time or money to commit to salon-level treatment. So what do you do? You do it at home, of course.
With just a couple steps, gel can easily be removed from the comfort of your own home. And no, we don’t mean ripping it off as you would with regular polish, we mean a foolproof guide to safe removal so you don’t damage your natural nail — doing so could potentially strip the layer of the nail plate (the hard skin that connects the tip to the cuticle) and result in damaged, brittle, and cracked nails.
How to remove gel nail polish
The easiest way to remove gel at home is to mimic a nail salon’s version by investing in cotton balls wrapped in foil and soaking them in acetone.
Next, buff off the rest of the polish with a nail file or buffer until all the gel is gone. If you don’t have a steady hand and find it difficult with your non-dominant hand, you can always start by filing down the nail and soaking your hand in acetone.
When removing, be wary of the acetone drying out the nails and skin around the cuticles. So before you soak nails in acetone, apply a healthy amount of cuticle oil to the nails to act as a barrier against the acetone, minimizing its damage.
Second tip, gently scrape the nail to avoid damaging the nail plate with aggressive pressure.
And lastly, be sure to soak nails long enough in the acetone so it is easier to remove with a nail file.
Photo via A$AP Rocky