You know what makes me feel fabulous? Flaunting a brand new gel manicure. They're long-lasting, shiny, protective, and scratch-free. But when it comes to removing said manicure? Not so fabulous. The best gel polish removers are vital if you want to say a proper goodbye to a professionally-applied gel mani or pedi from the comfort of your own home. In order to maintain the structural health of your nails, using the right ingredients and taking the correct amount of time is really important.
Unfortunately, a regular nail polish remover isn't going to cut it. Because gel manicures are applied in layers and cured under UV or LED lamps, the polish won't just rub off in one quick go.
Rule number one: Do. Not. Peel. I repeat, do not peel. I'm basically the queen of fiddling with my nails, so I completely understand the temptation. But you must resist because peeling off gel manis and pedis can really mess with your nail beds and surfaces (think: long-lasting scratches...no thanks). Rule number two: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Cuticle oil and moisture-rich creams are your best friend when you're doing a gel removal process because those harsh chemicals can be pretty dehydrating.
While you can do at-home, DIY gel removal (it involves acetone-soaked cotton balls and a lot of patience), going to the salon is the easiest option — but, it usually costs about $10 to take it all off. If you'd like to save some time and money, luckily, there are a few products that can help you say goodbye to your semi-permanent mani-pedi once and for all.
1. The Easiest And Most Effective Option: These Reusable Clips That Gel Polish Devotees Swear By
This top-rated set comes with 20 pieces of reusable plastic toenail and fingernail clips that securely hold an acetone-soaked cotton ball firmly against the nail to ensure the best, most effective gel polish removal. While this set doesn't come with the actual polish-removing formula (see below for our recommendation), it's easily the best tool out there for successfully removing all of the polish from each nail. Since it'll last you forever, you're saving money, and it only takes about 10-15 minutes for the process to work its magic.
2. The Most Portable Method: These Foil Nail Wraps That Remove Polish In 15 Minutes
A foil option is the most common gel polish removal technique that you'll read about, for a couple reasons. It's generally pretty affordable, easy to do, and super convenient to travel with — this package, in particular, comes with 200 pieces, which is a major bang for your buck. After applying acetone-soaked cotton pads (which are included) to your fingernails or toenails, you then wrap them in foil, allowing the process to begin while keeping everything secure and in place. This kit eliminates the hassle (and mess) of having to cut your own aluminum foil and keep the cotton in place. To ensure not a single drop of polish remains, we recommend following up the process with a nail pusher, like the one below.
3. The Speedy Hack: This Plastic Tool That Pulls Acetone-Soaked Gel Away From The Nails
It's all in the name with this nifty removal tool — gel polish will be gone when you use this handy, plastic remover that gently pushes acetone-soaked gel away from the nails, pulling it away from your nail in a clean motion. And it's double ended, so you can use it to push back cuticles, too. This isn't a method on its own, of course, but it's a recommended last step in any gel polish removal process to erase any trace of the manicure that was once there.
4. The Must-Have Accompaniment: Maximum-Strength Nail Polish Removing Formula
If you're going to use clips, a pusher, or foil, you'll need this maximum strength, soak-off nail polish remover, which is made specifically to address tough-to-remove varnish like shellac and gel. In addition to being super powerful, it's enriched with Vitamin E and grape seed oil to help hydrate and condition nails and nail beds, which will likely be in need of a major moisture boost after the polish removal process. The formula has a light coconut scent and comes with a handy nail file to use before and after the process.
5. The Best Value: A Kit That Includes Everything You Need To Remove Gel Polish
This gel polish removal kit definitely delivers the best value, seeing as it includes everything you need (and at a great price): a strong polish remover, nail cleanser, foil wraps, sanding blocks (for buffing), and salon wipes, to give nails a clean and healthy glow. If you're someone who regularly gets gel manicures, this is an essential kit to keep on-hand or in your carry-on.
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