How to Remove Gel Nail Polish At Home

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While everyone knows that gel nail polish is much stronger compared to regular nail polish, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to last forever. A gel manicure can last around two to three weeks without any damage, but breakage may start to form anywhere after that. Rather than walking around with chipped nails, it’s much better to remove the polish altogether. But since not everyone may have the time to visit a salon, here’s how you can remove gel nail polish at home!

How to Remove Gel Nail Polish At Home

The easiest way to remove gel nail polish at home is to use acetone, and you can do so by following these steps!

Step 1: Prepare Your Nails

Use a nail file to file the top layer of the topcoat until it's no longer shiny. When doing this, make sure that you use left-to-right motions rather than back-and-forth motions, as this will allow you to focus on one spot at a time. By doing this step, you’ll be revealing the gel nail polish underneath, which will make it easier to remove later on.

Step 2: Apply the Acetone

Dampen a cotton ball with some acetone before placing it on your nail. Then, use either some aluminum foil, plastic food wrap, or nail clips to secure the cotton ball in place before leaving it to soak for 15 to 30 minutes.

To avoid any skin sensitivities, you can either tear the cotton balls into smaller pieces or only apply a small amount of acetone. This will limit the amount of acetone that makes contact with your skin. And if you’re bothered by the smell, make sure to do this step in a well-ventilated area that can help diffuse the fumes.

Step 3: Remove Gel Nail Polish

After enough time has passed, the acetone should’ve softened the gel nail polish, so pinch the foil down on your finger before pulling both the wrapper and cotton off of your nail, wiping away the gel nail polish in the process. If there are any remaining bits of gel nail polish, you can either use a metal cuticle pusher or a cuticle stick to gently scrape them off.

If you’re having trouble doing this, then you may need to repeat the previous step. To finish, use a nail buffer to buff out your nails and smoothen out the surface before applying a nail treatment, cuticle oil, or some petroleum jelly for the next seven days.

How to Remove Gel Nail Polish At Home Without Acetone

Acetone is one of the most common ways to remove all sorts of nail polish, but you may have your reasons for wanting to avoid it, whether it be the harsh smell or strong chemicals that it's formulated with. Don’t worry, because you can also use a gel nail polish remover by following these steps:

Step 1: Prepare the Nail

Similarly to the previous method, you’ll need to start by filing away the topcoat with a nail file so that the gel nail polish remover can do its job more easily. Do this until your nails are no longer shiny.

Step 2: Apply the Gel Polish Remover

Apply a thick layer of the product to your nails, making sure that it doesn’t touch your skin, before leaving it for around five minutes to help it absorb into the nail polish. As you wait, you may notice that the nail polish starts to peel, crack, or even form bubbles, but this is to be expected.

Step 3: Remove the Gel Nail Polish

Once the time has passed, remove the gel nail polish remover as instructed on the product’s printed label before going in with either a metal cuticle pusher or cuticle stick to remove any remaining bits of nail polish. Then, clean your nails up with a nail buffer and make sure that you keep your nails as hydrated as possible for the next seven days with petroleum jelly, cuticle oil, or a nail treatment.

Does Gel Polish Damage Nails?

Yes, gel polish can damage nails by causing them to peel, crack, and become brittle, especially when the treatment is done regularly. This can happen for a wide range of reasons:

  • Gel Polish Formulation: Gel nail polishes are formulated with methacrylate monomers, which allows them to be much more durable than regular nail polish but can also weaken and dehydrate your nails.
  • Application Process: When gel nail polish is applied, your nail technician will more often than not buff out your nails in order to create a surface that’s more conducive to adhesion, but this can also damage your nails and compromise your nail health, especially when done frequently.
  • Consistent Application: Your nails need to have breaks in between nail polish applications to maintain their health and recover from prolonged exposure to nail polish, but this isn’t always followed.
  • Improper Removal: When you pick at your cracking gel nails, you’re not only removing the nail polish but also the topmost surface of your nails, making them more prone to texture, cracking, and breaking.
  • UV Light Exposure: Another reason why gel nails are longer lasting than regular nails is because they’re cured under a UV lamp, which encourages a stronger bond between the polish and your nails. However, consistent exposure to UV light can weaken the nail structure and make it more susceptible to dryness and damage.

Can Gel Nails Be Removed Without Damaging Nails?

Yes, gel nails can be removed without damaging the nails. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, the safest way to remove gel nail polish without any damage is by simply allowing your nails to grow out naturally and clipping them until the polish is completely gone. With that being said, they also recommend avoiding picking at your gel nail polish, which can damage your nails.

Is It Better to Remove Gel Polish with Acetone or Drill?

For at-home removal, it’s much better to remove gel polish with acetone rather than a drill. Some salons use nail drills to break the seal of the gel polish and remove the shine, but this is not recommended outside of a credible salon.

Improper use of a nail drill can cause severe damage to your nails, so it’s better to leave it in the hands of professionals and stick with acetone to gently but effectively remove gel polish.

Gel nail polish is best known for its ability to make your nails look beautiful and shiny, but make sure that it's removed properly. This can be difficult to do, especially when your schedule doesn’t leave any room for you to book an appointment at your local nail salon, but with a few items and products, you can easily and safely do this in the comfort of your own home!

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