How to Safely Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home

soaking off gel polish with aluminum foil

It’s easy to see why gel manicures are so popular. I mean, who wouldn’t want two weeks of perfectly glossy shine and chip-free wear?

I tend to use my hands a lot. Sure, I do a lot of typing during the day. But I also like to spend my free time gardening, and pretending that I know what I’m doing under the hood of my car. That makes gel polish a much better choice than regular nail polish — which doesn’t seem to last more than a couple of days on my nails.

Of course, removing the LED-cured lacquer is a pain. And once that edge around the cuticle starts to lift, it takes some serious self-control (that I do not possess) to not pick at it until it’s all gone. Ripping all ten shells from your tips is so bad for your digits, too. It can cause major damage to the natural nail bed.

You could go back to the salon to remove gel polish, but what if you did the manicure at home, DIY style? And with COVID-19 still raging on, unnecessary trips to the salon might not be at the top of your to-do list, anyway.

So, can you get a gel manicure off without destroying the health of your nails in the process? Sure you can! Let’s look at an easy DIY method to soak off gel polish.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Coarse nail file
  • Acetone
  • Cotton balls
  • Aluminum foil
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Vaseline or cuticle oil
  • Orangewood stick

Start By Protecting Surrounding Skin

You’re about to soak your nails in acetone, so you’ll want to shield your skin from the stuff before you begin. Rub some Vaseline or cuticle oil into the skin to provide a protective layer.

File It

Removing gel polish at home is the same exact process as in the salon, so this probably seems familiar, right? You’ll want to use a coarse nail file to file away at the topcoat seal. This will help everything go easier.

Soak the Cotton Balls

You can use cotton pads, but cotton balls tend to work better for this. Saturate the cotton balls with acetone — more than you think you need. Just make sure you’re using 100 percent pure acetone and not standard nail polish remover.

That stuff has acetone in it, but it’s more diluted. Pure acetone will quickly and effectively break down the gel polish.

Wrap Your Nails and Soak It Off

Now, let’s test your patience! You’ll want to place a soaked cotton ball on each nail, and then wrap the tip of your finger with a piece of aluminum foil to hold the ball in place. Leave it be for about 10 to 15 minutes.

You’ll want to wait until you notice the corners coming loose, and the gel manicure should slide off with the cotton ball — just apply a bit of pressure. If any residue remains stuck, use an orangewood stick to gently work it off.

TLC Time

No, not the TV channel. You’ve just soaked your fingers in acetone, which is super drying, so you’ll need to show your digits a little TLC when you’re done. Soak your nails in cuticle oil or vitamin E oil. After a few minutes, wash your hands and apply hand cream to restore moisture.

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