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How to Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home Quickly? (With & Without Acetone)

By Sejla Selimovic
May 31, 2023
5 minutes

Gel nail polish is a product for professional use, and it is necessary to know how to use it correctly, before applying it to the nails. Knowing how to remove gel nail polish is just as important as knowing how to use and apply it. This is because you may find yourself in a situation where you don’t have the opportunity to go to your manicure technician to quickly remove the polish from your nails, so you will be forced to do it yourself at home.

In order to do it successfully, painlessly, and with as little damage as possible, there are several essential things that you must take into account. To begin with, in our previous blog on ” How to Do Manicures and Pedicures at Home ” you can find all the necessary materials and tools to remove gel polish from your nails.

Another important thing is knowing the product that is on your nails. Depending on the type of gel nail polish, you will determine the technique and method of its removal. We have prepared for you some tips and two of the easiest and safest methods of removing gel nail polish.

What do I need to know about the gel nail polish before removing it?

When we talk about ways to remove gel nail polish, the first thing we need to pay attention to or find out is what kind of gel polish is actually on our nails – “softer” or “harder”. Actually, the thing is what it is made of, there are gel nail polishes that can be removed with acetone and those that cannot. For example, Shellac can be removed very easily with acetone because it is mostly composed of pleuritic acid, Balearic acid, shellac acid, and other natural waxes. On the other hand, most other gel polishes do not contain natural components in their composition, so they cannot be removed with acetone.

How to remove hard gel polish without acetone?

For this delicate maneuver, it will be enough for you to have a nail file. It is desirable that it be 150 grid files or lower. The grid number represents the roughness of the nail file, the lower the number, the rougher the file. The lowest grid number and the coarsest file is at number 80, and this is used to remove harder material than gel nail polish, such as the gel itself.

For this reason, we need a file of medium coarseness, in order to easily remove the gel polish, and at the same time protect the natural nail and cuticles from damage.

We recommend this technique only to those who are extremely patient and have a feeling “under their fingers”. If you are not careful enough, you will damage your natural nail.

With light strokes to one side, start removing the gel polish from the middle of the nail plate.

Continue removing the gel polish from the nail plate in one direction, piece by piece. Be especially careful around the cuticles and nail roots. When you get a little comfortable, switch to a two-step movement, there – here. Be sure to move the file away each time and see if the nail plate is visible, then continue the removal accordingly.

Removing gel nail polish with acetone

If you’re not confident in your filing skills or don’t have time to patiently remove gel polish from your nails with this previous technique, don’t worry. For you, we have a safer, perhaps even easier, technique for removing gel polish from nails. It is a removal method with acetone.

You will need:

  • Cotton pads
  • Tin foil
  • Acetone
  • Nail file
  • Cuticle pusher

Start by gently filing a thin glossy layer of gel polish. Do not use force, it is enough to go over the entire nail with a file so that it becomes completely matte.

Next, chop up a few pieces of tin foil, at least 10 of course. You will soak your nails in tin foil. Do not forget to apply petroleum jelly or vaseline on the cuticles, that is, all around the nails, in order to prevent skin damage when soaking the nails.

Soak cotton pads with acetone, and one finger at a time put the soaked cotton pad on the nail, and wrap the finger in foil. When you have applied everything, leave the nails to soak for at least 20 minutes. If you want the process to take less time, during the preparation process, file the gel polish a little more to leave a thinner layer for dissolving.

After the gel polish has melted, use a cuticle pusher to scrape the rest of the polish off the nails. Note that this technique works best with soft gel polishes.

To choose the best acetone for this technique, check out our article on the Best Nail Polish Remover Chemicals .

Other tips, what not to do?

  1. Do not peel off the gel polish from your nails, no matter if it is painless or if the layer is thin. Gel polish is cured/connected with the natural nail, so it will always pull a little or more of the natural nail, thus damaging the nail plate.
  2. Do not use a nail cutter when you have gel nail polish or gel, because cutting your nails while having layers of gel products will cause uneven cracking of the natural nail and gel, and this will result in painful peeling and bleeding.
  3. Do not try to soak your nails with warm water or oil for removing gel products. It will have zero effect because water or oil cannot dissolve the chemicals in gel products, even the “soft” ones.
  4. Never ever try and bite off your nails, both natural and peeling the gel polish with nails. You can hurt your nail, lips, teeth, and tongue. Instead, use a nail file to shorten the nails.
  5. Some might recommend letting your nails grow out and keeping the same gel polish on while it moves together with a nail. This is not a good way, the best time to wear gel nail polish is 3 to 5 weeks. Anything beyond that is not sterile and leaves the possibility of developing fungus or other infections and diseases on the nails. This is why it is important to remove gel polish from natural nails on time.
Sejla Selimovic
Hi, my name is Sejla Selimovic and I am a professional manicurist and nail art technician. With a heightened sense of aesthetics and a great passion for beauty, I work on beautifying the days and nails of many ladies. With over 4 years of experience, I am the co-CEO of the beauty salon "The NN-Nailz Difference". My goal when I started doing this business was to make every dream of my dear clients come true, no matter how demanding it was. Through certified work and experience, every step of the way I ensure that my clients receive a significant, high-quality, relaxing and refreshing treatment.
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