How to (Safely) Remove a Gel Manicure at Home


In the last couple of years gel manicures has become all the rave in the beauty industry. For women who do not have a lot of spare time for nail upkeep, gel manicures are the perfect option for you. Generally, gel manicures could last up to two weeks as well as look as shiny as it did the first day your manicure was applied.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, gel manicures are applied the same, but depending on your manicurist (and salon) are cured in different ways. After the polish is applied, your manicurist can opt to cure the manicure with either a UV light, LED light or a gel activator that is painted on top. According to Skyy Hadley, owner of As U Wish Nail Salon, “UV light is present in sunlight, tanning lamps, and nail-polish lamps and is the most invisible form of light. LED light is a light source that is visible and can contain invisible forms of light, such as UV. Using an LED light to cure your gel will speed up the process significantly. UV bulbs need to be changed based on hours of use. A lot of salons don’t realize this and they aren’t changing it. An old UV bulb can mean a duller outcome and faster chips for the client. LED bulbs, on the other hand, never need to be changed. A UV light cured gel top coat must be used with the UV or LED light in order for the system to work.” An activator is a topcoat that can be sprayed or brushed on to cure the product.

While there’s nothing more satisfying than having a long-lasting manicure, all good things must come to an end. It’s important to learn how to safely and effectively remove a gel manicure at home. Removing your gel manicure incorrectly can be harmful to your nails. By peeling off a gel manicure, you are not only removing the gel, but also the delicate top layers of your nails. This can result in white patches and textural irregularities throughout the nails.

Have no fear, Hadley dished expert, step-by-step tips on how to safely remove your own gel manicure. See what she had to say below.

File: Use an emery board to lightly buff each nail to remove the shiny top coat so you’re left with a powdery finish. Be careful not to over buff so you don’t hit your natural nail underneath the gel.

Soak: Next you must soak your nails in 100% acetone polish remover. To do this, take a piece of cotton ball the size of your nail and pour the acetone on it, place it on your nail and cover your nail with a piece of aluminum foil or tape to keep it in place. Do this on every nail and let soak for 15 minutes to relax the gel.

Remove: Remove the cotton pieces from your nails and take a wooden cuticle stick to push the gel polish off your nails. If you have trouble, instead of forcing it, soak your nails with a cotton ball for 5 more minutes and try again.

Moisturize: After the gel has been removed, wash your hands and apply a cuticle oil to the nail and cuticle. This will rehydrate your nails after using acetone on them to keep them strong and healthy between polishes.

It’s important to take your time when removing a gel manicure yourself as it can be a slow process and you want to treat your nails very delicately and carefully to avoid weakening them.

(Photo via Shutterstock)