Category | Nails

DIY: How to Remove Gel Nails

Posted by Courtney

When people think of removing their gel nails or gel tips, they consider placing a call to their manicurist or salon. Fact of the matter is, even you (yes, YOU) can remove your gel nails all by yourself quickly and simply without paying for a visit to the salon. Here’s how you can do it:

1) Select a location. It is important that you are in an area that is well ventilated (i.e. sitting in a large room by an open window or even outdoors) as you will be confronted with the fumes from a mix of nail polish remover and gel nails. If anyone has experienced this “aroma” before, they will tell you just how horrible, toxic and head-ache inducing this odor is.

2) Be sure to remove your nail polish! All and any trace of nail polish must be removed before the removal of gel nails. Even if you have a clear coat of paint on your nails, get it off with n acetate nail polish solution (acetate helps your natural nails retain their moisture and stay strong). Removing the nail polish now rather than after you remove the gel nail will keep you from needing to remove any small little touch up spots, residue or semi-dissolved nail polish once again later on.

3) Soak your hands in nail polish remover. It is generally recommended that you use an “acetone” nail polish remover to help expedite the process in removing gel nails, though you can use acetate remover as well. Just be prepared to wait an additional 5-10 minutes to remove the gel nails.

TIP: To quicken the process, try heating up the nail polish before placing your fingers in the bowl. If you do heat up some acetone nail polish remover, be sure to continually add a constant supply of warm remover to the glass bowl or sink.

4) Within 5 to 10 minutes you will undoubtedly notice an “odor” that is emitting from both your gel nails and the bowl which you are soaking them in. As soon as that odor is accompanied by a soft and somewhat sticky and pliable nail, you are ready to begin the removal process. Gently pull at the ends, one hand at a time, from the ends and work towards the centre. If you experience any roadblocks in the process, simply soak your nails for another 5 minutes and try again. Never force the removal of a gel nail as this will undoubtedly damage your natural nail.

TIP: You may want to try using a cuticle “orange stick” to remove the nails as well.

5) Once your gel nails have been removed, you can clean up any excess “sludge” or stickiness with a nail polish remover and a cotton ball. Your natural nails will probably seem a little “rough”, but you can easily buff them with either a nail buffer or the softer side of your nail file. Repeat this process until all nails have been removed.

Once your gel nails have been removed, it’s important to recognize the fragility of your natural nails. Be sure to moisturize your hands and nails frequently and take extra care to wear protective gear (such as gloves) when coming in contact with any sort of cleaning products or even water.

Recommended Articles:

How to Give Yourself Beautiful Nails
What's in My Nail Polish? Learning About Nail Polish Ingredients
Beauty Advice for Nails and Brows
Hottest Nail Polish Shades For Winter 2011

9 Comments For This Post

  1. Kate Says:

    Thanks for the how-to on removing gels. I just have to be more patient with the soaking game. :)Kate

  2. BEE Says:

    Thank you! will be more patient as well with soaking..

  3. Natalie Says:

    This was a confusing How-To list but, I sorta got it but is was mainly a good thing to do instead of getting them done at a nail salon. This is easy to do at home! :)

  4. Tammi Says:

    Thanks!! The exact info I need.

  5. Krista Says:

    I let my nails soak for 15 minutes, twice, and they’re not doing anything but changing my cuticle color due to the nail polish remover. I even tried paint thinner and nothing is happening. I can chip away at it a little with nail clippers, but nothing substantial.

  6. rd Says:

    There are some points here which are very wrong!
    Acetone dehydrates the nail.
    You should never peel gel off! Allow to soak if completely!

  7. rhi Says:

    this does not work!! i soaked my hands for 30mins and they did not come off, waste of time :(

  8. Kate Says:

    you have to use 100% acetone.. that way it will work

  9. Tania Says:

    Hey guys, just wanted to point out that soak off gels are pretty new and this is probably a removal for acrylic nails, paint thinner will not work, pure acetone is needed.

    If you have acrylic nails with a gel top coat you may need to file the layer of gel off if it is not a soak off gel, then soak remaining acrylic in acetone.

    If your nails are completely created with gel and are not specifically soak off you will have to file them off.

    And well, you soak off soak off gels :).

    If you have no idea about nails and cannot seem to grasp the different types then just have them professionally removed.