How To Remove Gel Nails At Home? Simple 6-Step Process

This article describes 6 steps to take off gel nails at home. Follow step by step to avoid hurting your nails or fingers!
1999 House of Nails
November 11, 2022

Key takeaways

  • Removing gel nails from home could be risky, but you can do that efficiently if you have the right tools and follow the proper steps.
  • You could decide just to let your natural nails grow out, but this process is slow and could take up to six months.
  • Going to a nail salon is the most convenient and efficient gel nail removal option.

What you need to remove gel nails

The first step to removing gel nails at home is gathering everything you need. These things include;

  • Petroleum jelly or cuticle oil to protect the skin around your nails from acetone.
  • Cotton balls or strips to soak in acetone and wrap around the nails.
  • A pair of scissors to carefully cut out the tips of the nails that are not directly attached to your natural nails.
  • A nail buffer or nail file to file off the top coat.
  • Acetone to remove the nail gels.
  • Foil wrap to wrap the soaked cotton around the nails, allowing the acetone to perform its function of dissolving the gel nails.
  • A cuticle pusher to push off loose gel.
  • A wash cloth to remove the remaining gel polish.
  • A towel to protect your surfaces from being ruined by acetone.

6 steps to remove gel nails at home

Once you have successfully gathered all these things listed, you can proceed to remove your gel nails in the following steps;

1. Protect your surfaces

Before you dive into the actual removal of gel nails, it is of the utmost importance for you to protect your surfaces against acetone and the stripped varnish or coatings. To do this, spread a large towel over your surfaces to be sure that even if you spill some acetone or make a mess, your table will not be ruined forever.

2. File off the top coat

Start filing off the top coat of your gel nails while focusing on removing all the shine and breaking the gel seal so that the acetone can do its work perfectly. Note that filling the nails is crucial to efficient removal, and skipping this stage could make removal a nightmare or almost impossible. The truth is that some gel polish's top coats are so hardwearing that they will only budge if you file them beforehand.

File off the top coat of gel nails
File off the top coat

3. Protect your skin and cuticle

Protecting your skin is not really crucial for the removal process, but doing so will help you a lot, especially against dryness caused by the acetone. Therefore, you must carefully apply petroleum jelly to the skin surrounding your nails to protect them from dehydration. Failing to apply this protective oil won't inhibit the removal, but it will protect your skin against the dryness caused by the harsh acetone. 

Apply petroleum jelly to the skin surrounding your nails
Apply petroleum jelly to the skin surrounding your nails (optionally on your hands)

4. Wrap your nails with acetone-soaked cotton balls & foil

The next stage is to soak your nails in acetone. So, take a piece of cotton, and cut it into a round ball that is the size of your nails and deep in acetone. Then, place the acetone-soaked cotton on the nail and wrap it around with a food wrap. Wrap it as tightly as possible and let it be for about 10 minutes.

Note: If you don’t like using acetone-dipped cotton and foil to wrap your fingers, simply dip your finger nails to a small bowl of acetone which should have the same effect. We wouldn’t recommend dipping your fingers too deep into the liquid to avoid acetone causing skin dryness. 

Wrap fingers in acetone-soaked cotton balls & foil
Wrap fingers in acetone-soaked cotton balls & foil

5. Unwrap the foil and remove the gel flakes

As soon as you unwrap the foil around your fingers, you will notice the gel is already flaking off. Use a cuticle pusher to push off loose gels, but don't apply much pressure. If any parts of the gel refuse to come off, you should repeat the process of dipping cotton in acetone and wrapping it around the finger. However, never force any product off your nail plate to avoid damaging your nails.

Remove the gel nail flakes
Remove the gel flakes

6. Buff and rehydrate

After removing all the loose gel, the next thing is to gently buff the nails before applying cuticle oil to rehydrate your skin. Apply a reasonable quantity of oil because acetone keeps the skin around your nails and cuticles extremely dry.

Apply cuticle oil to rehydrate your skin
Apply cuticle oil to rehydrate your skin

Why you shouldn’t peel your nails

Peeling your gel nails may cause damage to your natural nails. You may think you are simply peeling off your gel nails, but you’re also peeling off the top few layers of your natural nails. When this happens again and again, the result is always crackling and brittle nails.

Moreover, your nails will get worse and weaker with repeated peeling, resulting in irregular surfaces and textures and dehydrated, flaky nails. If you are a serial nail peeler, consider taking an extensive break from manicures to allow the tips of your nails to recover entirely from trauma before you start indulging in artificial nails again.  

Removing gel nails at a nail salon

If you are still worried about taking off your gel nails at home, go to a nail salon so a professional can handle the process. After all, nail technicians are trained to build and remove artificial nails quickly and efficiently. Feel free to book a nail appointment with us to get your gel nails removed and get a new set of nails while you're at it.

Growing out your nails

If you can't be bothered removing it yourself or going to a salon, a more drawn-out method is letting your natural nails grow out. But choosing this method means you must clip them weekly to remove the gel polish and prevent the gel nails from catching on objects. Moreover, you should go for this option only if you are sure that you will be able to resist the urge to pick at your gel polish, as this could damage your nails. The downside is that it would take about six months to fully grow out your fingernails, which isn't practical for most of us that want to look glam at all times!

About 1999 House of Nails

1999 House of Nails is one of the top nail salons in Christchurch, New Zealand. We offer an exotic comfortable space and highly talented nail technicians who are always committed to ensuring that every client is 100% satisfied. If you're looking for long-lasting & beautiful nails, book an appointment with us.
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