Remove gel nail polish

remove gel nail polish

Gel nails are durable, painted nails that closely resemble real nails. Most people go to a nail salon to have them removed by a professional, but you can skip this step and remove them at home. Read on to learn about the four ways you can remove gel nails: soaking, filing, peeling, and sugar.

Remove the gel nails by soaking

Pour acetone into a bowl.

Acetone is a chemical that reacts with gel nails so that they lose their stickiness and allow them to separate from your natural nails. Acetone is a common ingredient in nail polish remover, but to remove gel nails, you need concentrated pure acetone. Cover the bowl of acetone with cling film or aluminum foil. Secure them with a rubber band. Place the bowl of acetone in a larger bowl of warm water to warm the acetone. Leave it for three to five minutes. Then remove the bowl of acetone from the outer bowl to avoid overheating. Be careful with this process as acetone is flammable. Keep the acetone away from open heat sources and only gently and carefully heat it at a time.

Protect the skin around your nails with petroleum jelly.

Acetone can dry out and damage your skin, so it’s important to protect it with a layer of petroleum jelly. If you don’t have plain petroleum jelly, you can use a lotion or balm with petroleum jelly. Dip a cotton swab in the petroleum jelly and use it to apply it around the edges of your nails. Also cover the skin to just below your top knuckles with petroleum jelly. Be careful not to get too much petroleum jelly on your nails or the acetone won’t have a chance to dissolve the gel.

Soak your nails in acetone.

Soak a cotton ball in the acetone, place it on one of your nails, and wrap a strip of aluminum foil around it and your fingertip to hold the cotton ball in place. Repeat for the remaining gel nails. Allow the acetone to soak into the nails for 30 minutes. If acetone doesn’t irritate your skin, you can dip your fingertips directly into the acetone instead of using cotton balls and aluminum foil. Don’t soak them this way for more than 30 minutes, though.

Remove the foil strips and cotton balls.

You should first remove the foil strip and cotton ball from one nail. The gel should come off easily when you rub the cotton ball over it. However, if it doesn’t, repeat the process for the remaining nails. You may also need to help by peeling off the gel a little. If the gel is still firmly set on your test nail, replace the cotton ball soaked in acetone with a new one, wrap it in foil and let the acetone soak into your nails for another 10 minutes. Then try again and repeat this process until the glue has softened and the nails come off easily. If this method doesn’t work within an hour, the glue is likely acetone resistant, and you will need another method.

Fix your nails.

Rinse off the acetone and shape your nails with a nail file. Then buff them with a polishing file to smooth the rough edges. Finally, cream your nails and hands with a moisturizing lotion or cosmetic oil. File in one direction only to avoid damaging your nails. Avoid sawing movements. The acetone may have dried out your nails. So be careful with them over the next few days. You should also consider waiting a week before applying new gel nails.

File off the gel nails

Trim your nails.

Using nail clippers, trim off the portion of your nails that has grown past your fingers as much as possible. If the nails are too thick to cut with nail clippers, file them short with a coarse file.

File down the surface of the nails.

Use a coarse 150 or 180-grit file. File it gently in a grid-like fashion so that the nails are filed evenly, and you don’t overheat the nails by just stroking an area at a time. The filing could take some time. Resist the urge to work too quickly or unevenly. Otherwise, you could injure your natural nails. Wipe away filing debris frequently. This way, you can see better how thick the gel nail is and when you have reached your nail.

Watch for signs that you’ve almost reached your natural nail.

Once you reach your nail, you should stop filing, or you could injure it. Signs that you are close to your nail include Much less abrasion, as it only occurs when filing the gel in large amounts. The natural ridges of your nails become visible.

File off the remaining gel with a finer grit file.

Work slowly and carefully to make sure you don’t file off the top layer of your natural nails. Although nail injuries are unavoidable when removing standard gel nails, careful filing will at least minimize them. Continue until all of the gel is filled away.

Straighten your nails

Use a polishing file to smooth the surface of your nails, as they may have become uneven from filing. Apply lotion or conditioning oil to your nails and hands to moisturize them and keep them away from chemicals and other harsh substances for a few days. Wait a few weeks before applying new gel nails.

Pull off the gel nails

Wait until most of the nails have chipped off.

The gel will usually flake off on its own after a week or two – so it’s best to wait until then before you start peeling off the gel nails, as it will reduce damage to your nails.

Insert a cuticle pusher under the surface of the gel nail.

Carefully slide it further under the gel until the gel nail lifts slightly at the edges. Don’t push the cuticle pusher under the gel too hard, or you could injure your natural nail.

Peel off the gel.

Use your fingers or tweezers to hold and peel off the edge of the gel nails. Repeat this for each finger until all gel nails are completely removed. Don’t rip off the gel nails. Otherwise, a layer of your natural nail will come off with it. If the gel is very difficult to peel off, consider using another removal method.

Straighten your nails

Smooth the edges of your nails with a file. You are using a buffing file to smooth out any rough spots on your nails. Rub your nails and hands with lotion or conditioning oil. Wait a week before applying new gel nails.


Your natural nails will break more easily and be more sensitive to chemicals and cleaning products once the gel nails are removed. You should therefore wear household gloves for cleaning for a few weeks. If you have a lot of patience, just let the gel nails grow out: regularly trim them shortly after removing the gel-covered ends until the entire area of the nail with a gel layer is removed. It takes a lot longer, but it’s also the healthiest and most natural way to remove the gel.

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