• 08/18/2023

How To Remove Gel Nails at Home in Three Ways

A woman's hand curled into a slight first to display her gel polish manicure where there nails a painted black and two have a tortoise shell print

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Gel nails often make it past several weeks without chips. You enjoy shiny, sturdy nails for a long time, plus it lets you save a few dollars from visiting your salon less. 

Those using gel nails can understand the struggle of taking it off. If you need a nail makeover and want to do it yourself, the first struggle is peeling off the existing gel nails. Here are different ways you can do it. 

Remove Gel Nails at Home Using a Gel Nail Polish Remover

Gel polish gives your nails a wonderful finish lasting several weeks without cracking. But when you want to change nail colors, the quickest method to dissolve gel nails is using a gel polish remover. 

Benefits of Using a Gel Nail Polish Remover

  • Easy to use
  • Not drying to the nails
  • Less hassle
  • No strong odor
  • Fewer tools needed

You can get a gel nail remover at your local health and beauty shop. Follow these steps to remove gel nails at home safely. 

Things You’ll Need

  • A gel polish remover
  • A nail file
  • Metal or wooden cuticle pusher 
  • Cotton pads
  • A nail buffer
  • Cuticle oil

Removing Process

1. File the top coat to remove the gel polish shine

Buffing away the glossy layer of the polish can make the rest of the removal process easy. Use a coarse nail file to grind down the shiny patches gently. You should still see some of the gel nail colors. If spots of natural nails are exposed, it means you’re over-filing. Inspect each nail so you don’t accidentally file them down too thin. 

2. Apply the gel polish remover

After taking off the shiny parts, layer a thick and even gel polish on top of the nails. Do it slowly to avoid the gel polish remover contacting the skin, as it can irritate it. Finish applying the gel polish remover on all your nails.

3. Wait until the gel polish cracks

After soaking the nails with a gel polish remover, you should see the polish breaking and cracking down in about five minutes. If your gel polish is thick, give it a few more minutes of soak. 

4. Peel the gel polish off

Loosen the polish by using a cuticle stick and pushing it away. Since it’s soft, you should be able to dislodge them easily. Wipe with a nail buffer and cotton pads to ensure nothing is left sticking on the nails.

5. Apply cuticle oil

The gel polish remover is drying to the nails. After using it, moisturize each nail by coating it with cuticle oil. 

After-Care Nail Tips

Experts recommend taking a break from painting your nails to avoid permanent damage. For gel, rest your nails for a week every two months to allow them to repair and rehydrate. 

Remove Gel Nails at Home Using Acetone

If you don’t have a gel polish remover handy, use acetone. One downside is you need more time and patience when peeling off the gel nails. Follow these steps to do it at home safely.

Things You’ll Need

  • 100% acetone
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Scissors
  • Plastic food wrap
  • Cotton strips
  • Towel
  • Washcloth

Removing Process

1. Thinly coat nails with a petroleum jelly

Acetone dries the skin, so applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly can protect them and the surrounding skin from irritation.

2. Cut the cotton strip according to each nail’s size

You want to treat only the nails and avoid the acetone soaking on the cuticles and skin. Resize the cotton strip or balls so it perfectly fits the dimension of each nail. 

3. Soak each cut cotton in acetone 

Put enough acetone for the cotton until damp — not dripping — to absorb the chemical. 

4. Place each cut cotton over the nail 

Slowly place the acetone-soaked cotton on each nail of the same size until all ten nails are covered. 

5. Use plastic food wrap to seal the nails 

Some people may use a thin foil, but plastic food wrap does a better job sealing the nails and preventing the acetone from dripping. Use the scissor to cut the wrap into small sizes and secure them around each nail. Let the gel nails soak in acetone for 10 minutes, and be sure not to cut off blood circulation by sealing too tightly.

6. Remove the plastic wrap and clean

All of the gel polish should have softened after a few minutes. Remove the wrap and wipe or rub away the remaining gel polish using a wet washcloth. 

7. Wash your hands and feet

Use mild soap to clean your hands and feet and remove acetone residue. Dry with a towel.

8. Use petroleum jelly to moisturize the nails 

Reapply petroleum jelly to soothe the dryness in the surrounding skin. 

Remove Gel Nails at Home Without Acetone

If you want to try a new gel nail design but can’t visit your salon to remove the gel polish, try these options without acetone. 

1. Trim Your Nails Weekly

One safe way is to let your nails grow out and trim them every week until you replace gel nails with natural nails. Growing them is a slow process, and unless you want to get rid of the polish immediately, you can go this natural route. 

2. Peel the Gel off With Your Free Hand

After weeks, the gel nails will start to chip or crack. When you see signs of chipping, gently lift the loose spot with your other nail or a tweezer to remove them. You can also place the loose gel nail on running water and use your free hand to push it off. 

3. Use Cuticle Oil and Orangewood Stick

If the above suggestion doesn’t entirely remove the gel polish, try using cuticle oil. Cover the gel nail and the top of the orangewood stick with oil. Afterward, use the stick to push the gel nail off gently.

Use a nail buff to clear away the gel residue. Nourish the nail with cuticle oil. 

Remove Gel Nails at Home Safely

Gel polish lasts longer than standard nail polish, so many find it more practical as it can lessen the frequency of salon visits. It’s harder to take off, but not if you have a gel polish remover handy at home. It’s the most effective product to dissolve the gel polish. 

Acetone is also an excellent alternative to peel gel nails away. When you don’t have these two items, you can use cuticle oil to push the gel nails off until it’s removed. The last resort to minimize nail damage is to grow your nails naturally and clip them weekly until you have new nails. 

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