How to Remove Gel Manicures Without Damaging Natural Nails

Getting a gel manicure feels like a little slice of heaven, right? They look fantastic and last for ages. But, oh, the removal process - that's a whole different ballgame.

It's filled with scary stories of things gone wrong, leaving natural nails in distress. So, you might think your safest bet is to run to a professional for removal, but we all know that life doesn't always go according to plan, especially when money is a factor.

How to remove gel nail polish

Now, let's address the big question: Does wearing gel polish actually wreck your natural nails? Well, the answer isn't crystal clear. If you yank and pull during removal, your nails can get damaged.

But, if you can resist the urge to rush through it and keep your hands off your nails, there's no need to freak out. With some care and patience, you can safely remove gel polish without ruining your natural nails. Interested in learning how to do it from the comfort of your own home? Keep reading!

How to Remove Gel Manicures at Home

Gel manicure removal

Let's jump right into the process involved in taking off those gel nails at home, like a pro, and the tools you'll need to get the job done right!

  • Files
  • 100% Pure Acetone
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Aluminium foil
  • A cuticle pusher or an orange wooden stick

Procedure for Gel Polish Removal

Curing gels entails polymerization, that is a chemical process that hardens the gel. The removal process would also involve a chemical process to break it down. 

1. File the nails.

The initial step in this process involves filing your nails. Simply pouring acetone, which is the main player in breaking down the gel, onto your nails won't be effective because it can't penetrate the glossy surface. This glossy layer needs to be disturbed using a nail file

In essence, your aim is to create a textured surface, enabling the acetone to seep into the gel. It's also a good idea to have multiple layers of top coat on your nails; this acts as a protective shield.

Furthermore, it's recommended to thin out the gel by removing as much as you can with the file. Thinner gel means there's less material for the acetone to work through, and that speeds up the gel's detachment from your nail.

2. Saturate a lint-free cloth in acetone. 

To start the process, take a piece of lint-free cloth and generously apply the gel removal. Don't skimp on it because acetone tends to evaporate quickly, and if your cloth dries out, the removal process will come to a halt.

Next, position the acetone-soaked cloth in the centre of a sheet of aluminium foil. Place your nail on top of the cloth so that it extends beyond your finger on both sides and slightly over the tip of your nail.

Then, fold the top of the foil over your fingertip, ensuring that the cloth is in direct contact with the free edge of your nail. This step is crucial, especially if you've wrapped the tips of your nails (which is recommended). You want the acetone to work its magic there too.

Now, it's time to wrap each side of the foil around your finger, almost like you're rolling up a burrito at your Favorite Chipotle. Repeat this process for all the fingers on your first hand.

Here's the secret ingredient: that aluminium foil. It plays a vital role because it helps retain heat, which is essential for breaking down the gel. Your fingers provide the heat, but only if it's trapped right next to your nail. 

3. Wait about 10 minutes. 

Now, carefully slide off the foil wrap from the first finger you wrapped. Don't unwrap it like a present; instead, slide it off like a tube. It's a crucial step, and you need to be super cautious here, especially if you're using a cuticle pusher.

First things first, you must be sure that the gel is ready to come off. If you proceed without being certain, you could cause significant damage.

Signs that the gel isn't quite ready include it still being bonded to your nail. If, after your sneak peek, you find that the gel isn't quite ready to come off, it's advisable to re-wrap your nail and leave it in for a few more minutes.

However, if the acetone has partially penetrated the gel, the surface will be softened and easier to scrape off. 

Now, here's where your orange stick or cuticle pusher comes into play. But a word of caution - cuticle pushers can be pretty sharp, and you don't want to dig into your nail plate or gouge it. Hold the cuticle pusher as parallel to your nail surface as possible, so the flat part is hugging your nail. Be gentle and take your time!

4. Give your nails a good wipe. 

After you've successfully removed all the gel from your nails, take a lint-free cloth and saturate it with acetone. Use this cloth to thoroughly wipe your nails clean.

There might still be some tiny remnants of gel clinging to your nails, as well as some residual debris. Your nails should feel smooth and free of any gel residue once you're finished.

If you'd like, you can go the extra mile by applying cuticle oil to your nails and the surrounding skin. Acetone can be quite drying, so it's a good idea to replenish moisture to the skin that came into contact with it.

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