How to Remove Gel Polish at Home: A Step by Step Guide

By Aniela M / August 22, 2018

Last Updated on

Want to find out how to remove gel polish at home? It’s actually quite easy, and all you need are a few tools!

Gel polish is amazing because it lasts SO long, but unfortunately, can be a little hard to remove. Of course, the best and safest way to remove gel polish is by having them taken off at your local nail salon, but if you don’t have the time we’ll show you how to remove gel nail polish at home! It will take a little time and patience, but if done right, your nails should be free of gel polish and still look healthy!

As you may already know, a gel manicure can’t just be removed with nail polish remover. Gel removal is much harder because the polish is a lot thicker. This tutorial will show you how to remove your gel polish using tin foil, cotton pads, and acetone.

How to Remove Gel Polish at Home

buffing gel nail polish

This is the best and easiest way to remove gel polish at home:

  1. File off the top layer of the gel polish.
  2. Soak cotton pads in acetone.
  3. Place the cotton pads over each nail and cover with aluminium foil.
  4. Leave on for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Remove by pushing an orange stick onto the nail in an upwards motion.
  6. If the gel polish still does not come off, repeat the process again, this time leaving the nails to soak underneath the cotton pads for a while longer.
  7. Gel polish should easily come off, but if not, use an orange stick to push the rest of the gel polish away.

You’ll Need:

  • Acetone (Very important that you use a nail polish remover that contains acetone, otherwise this will not work!)
  • Cotton pads
  • Aluminium foil
  • Nail file
  • Nail buffer
  • Orange stick
  • Cuticle oil
  • Nail strengthener

#1. File Off The Top Layer

In order for this to work, you’ll first need to remove the glossy top layer of the gel polish. Do this by filing the top layer using a nail file. Make sure you don’t file too much as you don’t want to damage the actual nail bed. File until you no longer see the shininess of the gel polish. Be gentle with this and take your time so you don’t actually ruin your nails.

#2. Preparation

Prepare your acetone, cotton pads or balls, and tin foil. Cut 10 small squares of tin foil. Rip each cotton ball or pad in half (an entire cotton ball would be too much). Fill a small bowl with enough acetone to dip your nails in.

#3. Cotton Pads + Tin Foil

foil method

Dip a cotton pad into the acetone and place directly onto the nail. When you do this,  make sure to press down onto the nail, so that the acetone can really stick onto the gel. Wrap the nail in aluminium foil and do the same for the rest of your nails. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

#4. Remove Gel Polish

Remove the cotton balls and aluminium by gently pushing upwards. You can use an orange stick or just your fingers. The gel polish should mostly be off, but if not, use an orange stick to remove the rest of the polish. If that doesn’t work, you may have to repeat the process one more time.

#5. Buffing + Care

Buff your nails gently to remove any leftover residue from the gel polish. Wash your hands and apply a strengthening polish as well as cuticle oil around the nail beds.

#6. After Care

Remove gel polish can actually take a lot from your nails, and, for the next few days, they may need a little TLC. The first thing you should do is apply a homemade cuticle oil. This will help take care of the cuticles by hydrating them. Be sure to massage the oil onto the cuticles every night before bed.

For at least a week, don’t apply any nail polish. Let your nails breathe a little bit! Lastly, apply a thick hand lotion once a day to replenish the nails’ moisture.

Are there other ways you can remove gel polish at home? 

Yes, there actually is another way! If you don’t want to try the homemade way, you can always purchase a gel polish removal kit, but it’ll work in pretty much the same way as the at-home version!

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Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home

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