Is It Bad to Take Off Gel Polish At Home?

Gel manicures are the lazy girl's acrylics — they last two weeks, look great, and keep your nails growing strong. But when a tiny chip happens and you're so frazzled you peel polish off every nail, serious damage is done. If you've been wondering if it is bad to take off gel polish at home, the answer is this: It depends. Here's how to safety remove a gel mani at home.

To begin, honor this sacred truth: Straight up peeling off your gel polish is the worst thing you can do to your nails. No, really. According to New York dermatologist Dana Stern, "nails are composed of cells called keratinocytes that look like tiles on a roof if you examine them under a microscope. By peeling off a gel manicure, you are not only removing the gel, but also the top layers of these delicate cells. This can result in white patches and textural irregularities throughout the nails." Yikes!

If you are guilty of picking and peeling, now's the time to stop. You can gently and safely take your gel manicure off at home, especially if your nails were healthy before the manicure. If they weren't, it still may be worth the time and trip to the salon to have the gel professionally taken off. If you're all in to do it yourself, here's how.

1. Soak Cotton in Acetone

First, soak cotton pads in acetone. And I mean soak. Cotton pads are best because they don't soak up too my acetone, but cotton balls work as well.

up & up Advanced Acetone Nail Remover, $2, target

2. Wrap Cotton Pads With Tin Foil

Tin Foil, $10, Amazon

OK, this is where it gets a little weird but it's also where the magic happens. Place the soaked cotton pads onto your nails and wrap them with tin foil. Let that work wonders for ten minutes.

3. Remove, Peel & Gently File

After you've let the cotton pads and tin foil sit for ten minutes, remove the foil and peel the gel polish off. This will be much gentler than peeling off sans remover, and won't do near as much damage to your nails. Then gently file. Tada! Back to beautiful, bare nails.

Miles Kimball Small Crystal Nail File, $10, Amazon