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Removing Gel Nails

Shalu Bhatti
When we think of removing gel nails, the first thing that comes to our mind is, "Oh my God!" But here is the good news, if we are a little careful and patient, the procedure of how to remove gel nails at home is not that big a deal!
First of all, you need to be clear whether what you have are gel nails or acrylic nails. Just make sure because there is a huge difference in the way they are applied, and removing gel acrylic nails is a different procedure altogether. Gel has only one component and is applied like a nail polish and cured under UV light.
The pressure is very light as the coating applied shouldn't be too thick. Whereas, in case of acrylic, it has 2 components, polymer (powder) and monomer (liquid). Acrylic nails tend to get air bubbles if not applied properly by the technician. Now let's have a look on how you can remove gel nails yourself.

Materials Required

First of all, you need to check if you have the following things handy, if not, add them to your things-to-buy list. Let's check out on what we need.
  • Acetone or nail polish remover containing high amount of acetone.
  • Cotton balls. (Make sure you have loads of them. It's better to have extra, than to fall short on them!)
  • Disposable bowl or container to dip your fingertips. (Trust me, you will be glad to if you opt for a disposable one!)
  • Tin foil to speed up the procedure.
  • Nail filer/Emery board. (If what you have applied is a buff-off gel which doesn't dissolve, then you will also need a 180 and 240 grit nail filing board.)

How to Remove Gel Nails

Once you have made sure about the materials, it's time to get started! Go through the step by step procedure to make sure you don't miss anything.
Step 1
DON'T plan to do this in your bedroom, unless it has a huge window, or a balcony, or a door that opens to your garden. What I am trying to say is that the area should be airy and well ventilated.
Just trust me on this because you wouldn't want to go through the strong, sharp, and pungent smell that will irritate your eyes and nose throughout when the gel and acetone are combined together! If you think it's a matter of a few minutes, flash news is, that the smell stays for almost two hours. So think twice before selecting the location!
Step 2
Remove the nail polish on the gel nails before removing them if you don't want the experience to be messy and gooey. However, if you plan to remove the nail polish after removing the gel nails, it's absolutely your call!
Step 3
After you are done with removing the nail polish, take 1½ - 2 inches of acetone, or a nail polish remover rich in acetone, or any solution available in the market for nail removing purpose, in a disposable bowl. Completely soak the fingertips of one hand in it for 5 minutes.
The reason why I am emphasizing on a disposable bowl is because, when you soak your gel nails in the solution, a goo with a strong pungent odor is created due to the chemical combination of gel nails and acetone. I am sure you wouldn't want to use the same bowl for eating purposes!
To remove the goo, you would want your other hand to be free, right? That's why, do one hand at a time! If you want the procedure to be faster, instead of soaking your fingertips directly in the solution, you can soak some cotton balls in acetone and place them into your fingers after which you need to cover the cotton balls on your fingers with a tin foil.
The heat from the tin foil will help the acetone work quicker. Keep in mind that you do one hand at a time!
Step 4
After 5 minutes, check if your gel nail tips have changed from being firm, to slightly sticky and gooey. If your nose has started irritating you with the smell, you are on the right track. Now, slowly and softly try to tug the end of the nails and try to remove the tips from your nail beds.
If you want you can use an orange stick (also known as a cuticle stick) for removing the gel nail tips. Here is where you will require your clean hand! NEVER forcefully pull the gel nail tip or else you will end up pulling off your original nail.
Remember, what you are doing is a nail care routine! If it's not coming off easily, be a little more patient and re-insert your fingers for another 3-5 minutes. It's better to be patient than to become a doctor's patient for a ripped off natural nail!
Step 5
After that, quickly wipe off the goo that you see on your fingertips with a fresh portion of acetone and a fresh, clean cotton ball. If the nail still doesn't come out, don't start panicking about how to get rid of them now! There are chances that the gel used is a buff-off gel!
If that is the case, you will have to remove gel nails without acetone as the gel needs to be safely filed from your natural nail plate by using a nail filing board. For this you will need a 180 grit nail filing board. File your gel nail softly, don't be too rough and keep filing till you start seeing that you are close to your natural nail.
After that switch to a 240 grit padded file and gently file the remaining gel from the nails. Once you have done this, the remaining tips can be removed with application of some acetone saturated cotton balls on the finger nails as the tips are nothing but plastic. Keep rubbing until the tip dissolves, it won't take that long!
Step 6
Repeat the same procedure to remove the gel nails of the other hand.
All right! It seems we have successfully completed the procedure for removing gel nails by now! But the job doesn't end here. You will notice that the surface of your natural nail will be rough because of the entire procedure to remove gel nails. Be nice to your natural nails by gently buffing them with a nail buffer and shape them with a nail filer.
You will also have to keep applying a clear coat of strengthening nail polish to your natural nails for at least 2-3 weeks. This is very important because the gel nail chemicals weaken the natural nails and they become brittle.
Try using a clear base coat of strengthening nail polish as it prevents absorbing colorants from the nail polish. Follow these steps and have a little patience and I am sure that your nails will be as healthy and gorgeous as ever. Hope this story helped you in some way. Good luck!