Gel nail polish is incredible. Finally we can have gorgeous, chip-free nails for weeks. But once you get past all the excitement and beauty of it all you realize how problematic gel nails can be. When your polish starts to grow off or peel, you can’t just grab a cotton pad and nail polish remover and call it a day.
Instead you need to call your salon and try to book a gel polish removal session. This gets to be more and more of a hassle every time. So much so you might end up piling normal polish on top of your aging gel polish, deciding you’d rather deal with chipping and peeling, or even worse, pulling the gel polish off yourself — taking the top layer of your nail with it.
Well I’m here to tell you that there is an alternative. I’m talking about an at-home removal method that actually won’t damage your nails. All you’ll need is a few tools and a bit of patience.
- Nail file
- Cuticle oil or cream
- Cotton balls
- Tin foil
- Orange stick
- Coconut or almond oil
File For a While
The first step is definitely the most frustrating. You’re going to pick up a nail file and begin filing down the polish. It’s important to not go too far — you just want to remove the very top layer of the polish, leaving your actual nail untouched. Just file until the polish is no longer shiny.
The Most Important Step
This step is key to avoiding damage, and it’s one most salons skip. That’s why this at-home gel polish removal method is even better than getting your polish professionally removed.
To protect your nails and avoid any damage from the harsh chemicals of the next steps, coat your cuticles and the skin around your nail bed with a cuticle oil or really thick cuticle cream. This step is so important to prevent any damage to your actual nail as well as your nail beds; gel polish removal methods are usually very drying and this helps avoid that.
Prep Your Tools
Carefully prepare the two tools you’re going to use for this process. Grab a bowl and fill it with acetone — a hydrating formula is best. Then place 10 cotton balls in the acetone to soak. This may seem dramatic and like you’re using too much acetone, but trust me that is what’s needed to thoroughly remove the gel polish. Next, cut 10 strips of tin foil — you want small rectangle shapes to wrap around your fingertips.
Get To Work
Place a cotton ball over each nail and wrap the foil around it to hold the ball in place. Take your time with this step because the more fingers you do the harder it’ll get. Once your nails are all covered, leave this on for 10 to 15 minutes.
This can be tricky, so I’d recommend starting with your non-dominant hand so that you can at least start off relatively easily.
Finish the Job
Once your nails are done soaking, slowly pull each foil off of your fingers while applying pressure to make sure you’re really pulling as much polish off as you can. If there is any product remaining on your nails, go in with an orange stick to really finish the job off and lift off whatever the acetone couldn’t.
Reverse the Damage
This method is really harsh on your nails — soaking your nails in acetone is definitely as bad as it sounds. That is why the first step is a must, and so is this final one. Soak your nails in some oil; any multi-purpose oil will work, such as coconut or almond, to help moisturize and strengthen your nails. After you’ve soaked your nails in the oil for five to 10 minutes, dry off and apply some cuticle oil to your nail beds.