How To Remove Gel Nail Polish At Home Without Damaging Your Nails

by Lindsey Rose Black and Sara Tan
Originally Published: 
honey_and_milk/RooM/Getty Images

Gel polish manicures might sound like a dream come true, but removing them without destroying your nails can quickly turn into a nightmare. Luckily there are ways to remove gel nail polish at home that'll ensure you can get the polish off and allow your nails to heal. Long live DIY beauty hacks!

Before I dive into how you can safely remove gel polish at home, I want to point out one major no-no. Even if it's super chipped, you have got to fight the urge to straight up peel off your gel manicure. "Peeling off your gels can be extremely damaging. When you peel it off, the gel will also peel off multiple layers of your natural nail with it," says Brittney Boyce, LA-based Celebrity Nail Artist and ORLY ambassador. This can also result in white patches, cracks, and dry, flaky nails or nail beds. In summary? Peeling basically wrecks your nails and they're gonna take forever to heal.

If you can't get to a salon, here's exactly how to remove gel polish safely at home, according Boyce.

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1. File Off Your Top Coat & Gel Polish

Using a new, professional-grade nail file, file off each nail, from your top coat to 50% of the gel polish. "Be gentle and careful not to over-file your nails. If it starts to hurt or burn, stop," warns Boyce.

2. Wrap Nails With Acetone & Cotton/Foil

Soak a cotton ball with acetone, place it on your nail bed, and then wrap your finger with foil, securing the cotton ball. "This helps the acetone loosen the gel without evaporating," says Boyce. ORLY sells handy Pocket Removers for those looking for a shortcut. Wait a full 10 minutes to let the acetone loosen the gel completely.

3. Remove Foil & Push Off Gel

"Remove foil one nail at a time and use your pusher to gently push off gel," advises Boyce. If the gel doesn't seem loose enough to push, repeat the previous step using acetone. It's important to not force it! "You don't want to push too hard and dig into your nail bed," says Boyce. Do this until all gel has been removed from each finger.

4. Apply Cuticle Oil On Natural Nails

Rehydrating your nail beds and cuticles are key to helping repair or prevent further damage to your nails.

5. Buff Nails

The final step in your at-home gel removal? Buffing your nails. Using a nail buff might seem unnecessary, but it'll help remove any excess base coat you may have missed and/or dehydration in your nails, says Boyce.

For the full tutorial, check out Boyce's Instagram video here.

This article was originally published on Nov. 2, 2016

This article was originally published on