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How to Remove Gel Polish Manicure at Home with No Nail Damage

By now, your gel polish and fake nails are probably looking a mess! You are not alone. I just heard Kelly Ripa say she needed to get her gel manicure off. You can remove gel polish or fake nails yourself at home without any damage to your nails when you do it the right way.

If you decide you will just peel your gel off, think before you do it. Peeling gel polish or any other nail product off of your nails will also peel off layers of your nails. Sure, the damage will grow out, but you will be living with weak nails that will bend and break. Nails can be left so thin, they actually hurt. Remove your gel polish or fake nails the right way!

It's easy but a little time consuming and messy too. Most of us do have that time to get the job done since we are on #stayhome lockdown!!!
gel manicure removal
Think of it as good opportunity to give your nails some much needed hydrating recovery time until the salons to reopen. Gel and acrylic can be very dehydrating for the nails. Plus, incorrect removal results in thin, brittle, rough feeling nails. 

You probably already know basically how to do it if you have been getting gels or acrylics and have experienced the removal process. I'm here to reassure you on how to do it at home and give you a few helpful pointers to speed up the process and prevent damage to your nails.

You will need to do a soak off for gel polish, dip powder and artificial nail removal. Acetone is the go to product to remove anything from your nails! A non acetone or an acetone remover diluted with conditioners will not get the job done. 

100% acetone
So many stores are closed right now, it may be hard to find.  Most home supply stores such as Home Depot and Lowes are still open here in Pa. since they sell essential building supplies. They may carry acetone. Give your local store a call before you venture out into the COVID-19 world!!! 

You can always order 100% acetone from Amazon. Get it delivered right to your door or you don't have to leave your house. There really is no point to risking your health to remove gel from your nails!

This post contains Amazon links to help you get the beauty supplies you need delivered right to your door. When you use the links I provide for you, I earn a small amount at no cost to you. I truly thank you for using my links!😘

Here's how to get your gel polish manicure off at home with no nail damage:

How to Remove Gel Polish or Dip Power

You will need:
100% acetone
A 100/180 grit nail file
An orangewood stick
Cotton balls or cotton pads
Aluminum foil cut or torn into ten 3 inch squares or gel polish removal foils
Cuticle oil
Paper towels
The key to easy gel polish and dip powder removal without damaging the nails is a long soak off time. Dip powder, some gel brands, or over cured gel polish can take up to 30 minutes to soften up.

Step 1. Rough it up

Use your 100/180 grit file to remove the shine from the surface of the gel polish or dip powder.

Step 2. Saturate the Cotton & Wrap
Saturate the cotton with 100% acetone. Apply the saturated cotton to 1 nail then wrap it with foil. Or saturate a gel polish remover pad and apply to one nail. Continue applying the cotton and foil to all of your nails.

Step 3. The Soak

Take your time. Leave the foil on your nails for 15 minutes. The acetone is softening and dissolving the product from your nails. The process works quicker when your hands are warm. You can cover your foiled hands with a dry warm towel from your dryer to speed things along. 

After the 15 minutes, remove the first foil that was applied. The product should look chunky, flaked and lifted. If it does not, put the foil back on and wait another 5 minutes.
Step 4. Scrape Off
When the product looks chunky, flaked and lifted, it is ready to be gently scraped off with the orangewood stick. You can also use a metal pusher but it is more likely to damage your nails leaving them with a rough uneven surface. 

Remove the first foil applied. Press and pull it off to remove the flaked up product. Use your orangewood stick to gently scrape any of the product still clinging to the nail. If it won't come off easily, reapply acetone saturated cotton and foil and move on to the next nail. 

Scrape from the cuticle area towards the free edge of the nail. The scrape off will make a mess. Do it over a paper towel for an easier cleanup. Scrape the nails one by one. Return to any nails that needed extra soaking time.  

Step 5. Recondition

Acetone strips all water and oil from the nails. Wash your hands after the soaking and scraping. Pat them dry and apply an oil to the nail and cuticle areas. Good old olive oil will do or use a conditioning nail oil product.  I like Orly Argan Cuticle Oil Drops or Cuccio Revitalizing Cuticle Oil. Massage the oil into the nail and cuticle areas. Wait an hour or so after reconditioning to apply nail strengthener and polish. 

How to Remove Fake Nails: Acrylic, Gel Nails & Nail Tips

You will need:
100% acetone
A 100/180 grit nail file
A 120/240 grit nail file
An orangewood stick
Nail clippers
Cotton balls or pads
A glass bowl that your fingertips will fit in
Cuticle oil
Paper towels

Step 1. Remove Polish & Clip

Remove regular nail polish and clip off the extended part of the artificial nail with nail clippers.

Step 2. Rough it up

Use a 100/180 grit file to remove the shine from the artificial nails or from the gel polish if you are wearing it on your artificial nails. 

Step 3. Soak Off

Fill a glass bowl with enough acetone to fit in the entire length of your nails. Soak the nails on one hand in the bowl of acetone for 10 minutes. The acrylic, gel or nail tip material will become soft and mushy. 

Remove your hand from the bowl then use an orangewood stick to scrape off the nail product. Scrape from the cuticle area towards the frees edge of the nail. 
Do it over a paper towel for an easier clean up.

It will not all come off at once. You will need to put the nails back in the bowl of acetone for another 10 minute soak and another scraping. Keep soaking and scraping until all of the nail product is removed.

Step 4. Smoothing
Your nails will need some smoothing and shaping since the extended artificial nail was clipped off. Use a 120/240 grit file to shape them. Use the fine grit side of the file to gently smooth the surface of the nails if needed.

Step 5. Recondition

Acetone strips all water and oil from the nails. Wash your hands after the soaking and scraping. Pat them dry and apply an oil to the nail and cuticle areas. Good old olive oil will do or use a conditioning nail oil product.  I like Orly Argan Cuticle Oil Drops or Cuccio Revitalizing Cuticle Oil. Massage the oil into the nail and cuticle areas. Wait an hour or so after reconditioning to apply nail strengthener and polish. 
The favorite nail polish brand at the salon is Zoya. It wears very well on natural nails, is 10 free, and they have beautiful colors. They also make the Naked Manicure System to help improve the condition of your nails and make them look pretty. It's easy to apply at home. The kit contains a hydrating base coat, two sheer colors and a glossy top coat. I highly recommend it!
zoya naked manicure kit

Click here to view my Zoya Polish List to their nail polish colors, swatches and collections.

Your nails will most likely be a bit weak and brittle after you have removed your gel polish, dip powder or artificial nails. I have a lot of remedies to help you deal with your bare nails until you can get back to the salon in my post on brittle nails. 

Read How to Strengthen Brittle Nails

This too shall pass as the saying goes. It's not going to be an easy time but we will get through it. I hope this post helps you with your nails until the salons are up and running again. 

You may be needing help with your hair color, brows and lash extensions right now too! I did a post dedicated to dealing with those issues at home.

Read Beauty Hacks to try during the temporary salon closures

Stay safe.   Stay healthy.   Be beautiful.

Licensed Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Makeup Artist, Create Spirit

 Wedding, special occasion or everyday makeup and skin care services available in the Philadelphia, Pa. area. Visit my makeup page for more information!

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