Can I remove gel polish at home? I always recommend having your gel polish removed by a professional, but if for some reason you are unable to make an appointment to see me, and can’t get to a professional salon, then it can be done safely at home by using the steps below.
You will need a nail file, buffing block (optional), cuticle oil, nail polish remover containing acetone (non-acetone formulas won’t work), cotton wool, foil wraps (squares of tinfoil) and a cuticle pusher or orangewood cuticle stick. I do sell gel polish removal packs that contain a nail file and buffing block, cuticle stick, 10 professional foil wraps and a small pot of hand lotion. If you’d like one of these packs, kindly ask at your next manicure appointment, or purchase one from our online store. If you’ve already purchased a removal pack and still have the nail file, buffing block and wooden cuticle stick, I can sell you the foil removal wraps without you needing to purchase an entire removal kit.
To remove your gel polish:
1. Lightly etch (file) the surface of the gel polish with the nail file, so that the top coat loses some of its shine.
2. Apply cuticle oil to the skin around your nails, try to avoid getting it on your nails. The cuticle oil will prevent the nail polish remover from drying out your skin too much. If you don’t have cuticle oil, apply a little hand cream.
3. Apply nail polish remover to the pad on the foil square (if using a removal kit), or use cotton wool. If using cotton rounds, cut them into quarters. Place the pad or cotton wool over the nail and wrap the foil securely around your finger, folding the excess on top over onto the top of your nail. Squeeze the wrap in place so that it’s a snug fit.
4. Repeat step 3 and wrap the remaining nails.
5. Leave these foil caps on for 10 minutes to dissolve the gel polish bonds.
6. If it’s cold, sit on your hands or place them under one of those microwavable heat packs or wheaty bag, as this will help loosen the polish bonds.
7. Starting with the finger that you first applied nail polish remover to, carefully slide the foil cap off, being careful not to squash it. Gently scrape off the peeling gel polish using the orangewood cuticle stick. If the polish doesn’t come off easily, replace the foil cap that you’ve just removed and move onto the next finger. Don’t force any stubborn polish off, as you may damage your nail.
8. Repeat with remaining fingers, removing and replacing the foil caps as needed, until all the polish has been soaked off and gently removed.
9. Use the buffing block to remove any last traces of colour, starting with side 2, then side 3 and finally side 4, to buff your nails to a nice shine. Finish by applying hand cream and massage it into the hands, cuticles and nails.
This method can also be used for toes, although the foil wraps in the Removal Kit may need to be folded to get them to fit on the toes.
If you absolutely cannot get to a salon for a professional to remove your acrylic enhancements, this same method can be used, although it will need to be soaked for longer (around 20 minutes). If the acrylic doesn’t gently flake off, replace the foil ‘cap’ and soak it for a little longer. Don’t force any acrylic off, as you will damage your natural nails by tearing off layers of the nail along with the product you’re trying to remove. This kind of damage can leave your nails paper-thin and soft, or if it’s really stuck, even tear off whole portions of the nail plate and doing permanent damage to your natural nail. Wherever possible, always get a professional to remove your gel polish, and acrylic or hard gel enhancements.
Please note that PolyGel and Hard Gel overlays and extensions are done with non-soak off products and cannot be removed using the method above for gel polish. Polygel and Hard Gel overlays or enhancements do need to be carefully removed by a professional.