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How To Remove Gel Nail Polish Yourself at Home the RIGHT Way

Follow this guide and your nails will stay strong and healthy!


By Amber Katz and Kristi Kellogg, Allure

Need to get your gel polish off and don't have the time or patience to head to the salon? We've been there. The temptation to pick/rip/bite off the polish is strong, but resist it. You can remove gel without damaging your nails. We talked to celebrity manicurists and beauty experts to find out exactly how to remove gel nail polish at home safely, without going to the salon. Follow this guide and your nails will stay strong and healthy!
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1. Find a Well-Ventilated Space

Give yourself plenty of time for the removal process and most importantly, do it in a well-ventilated area so you're not breathing in all that acetone, says nail and beauty expert Jenna Hipp. The process can't really be done in a rush — you'll need about 30 minutes. It's a perfect time to turn on your favorite sitcom or have a long chat via speaker phone.

Start by using a coarse nail file to gently (and slowly) sand down the top layer of gel. The point is just to remove the very top layer of the gel polish. "Avoid filing too far into the color. Basically, you just want to remove the shine," says Hipp.

3. Protect Your Skin

Next, coat the skin surrounding your nails and fingertips with a cuticle oil or a thick cream. "This will provide protection from the acetone, which is very drying to your skin," says celebrity manicurist Tracylee. We like CND Solar Oil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner (and, bonus, this formula smells like an almond cookie).

4. Soak Some Cotton Balls

Tracylee prefers cotton balls to pads because they're closer to your nails' size and shape. Plus, cotton balls are able to hold on to the acetone better. "Cotton pads can absorb the acetone and dry out too quickly," she says. Saturate the cotton balls with more acetone than you think you need, and avoid formulas with moisturizing ingredients, as these will slow down the soaking process, says Tracylee.
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5. Wrap Your Fingertips with Aluminum Foil

Grab some Reynolds Wrap and tear the foil into little squares (about 3" by 3"). Then, start wrapping your fingertips in the squares. "Start with your non-dominant hand — it makes things easier — and place an acetone-soaked cotton ball on your pinkie. Use the foil to secure the cotton ball in place," says Tracylee. Repeat this wrapping on all ten nails, and then leave your foil-covered fingertips alone for about 10 to 15 minutes. (It will get a little tricky by the end of the process.)

6. Apply a Little Elbow Grease

The wait is over! Pull the foil off of each finger and apply slight pressure to the nail with the cotton ball. "If there is any gel left over, gently remove it with a nail stick, working under the gel to lift it off the nail plate," explains Hipp. "Wooden tools can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so dispose of them after each use and don't share with friends."

If the polish isn't lifting easily as you press the stick into it, it's a sign you need to soak your nail longer in the acetone, so wrap it back up and try again in five minutes.
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7. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

After a long acetone adventure, your nails will likely be a bit dried up. "Soak your nails in coconut oil for five to seven minutes, then apply a cuticle oil on your nail beds to rejuvenate and rehydrate them," says celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi. However, if you're reapplying gel polish immediately, skip creams or oils until after the gel polish has been applied, says Tracylee.

It's so key for the gel enthusiast to know how to remove gel nail polish at home. Gel polish isn't like regular polish — if you pick or peel at it, you can end up with white spots, indentations, and chips — plus it weakens nails to become soft and then brittle overall.

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Women's Magazine: How To Remove Gel Nail Polish Yourself at Home the RIGHT Way
How To Remove Gel Nail Polish Yourself at Home the RIGHT Way
Follow this guide and your nails will stay strong and healthy!
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