When getting to the nail salon isn't an option, it's important to know how to remove your grown-out gel manicure at home. The temptation to pick, rip, or bite off the polish is usually the first at-home "solution" that comes to mind. It's a strong (and weirdly satisfying) urge, but resist it. When you peel off your polish, you also take off layers of your nail bed with it, which leaves them susceptible to peeling and breaking. But that doesn’t mean you should just go ahead and peel off your old polish. When it comes to removing gel nails at home, technique is key. A common misconception about gel is that it damages your nails, which isn’t true. It’s often the removal process that can be damaging. To prevent that damage and to keep nails healthy and strong, make sure you’re following the proper technique, which will keep your cuticles and nail plate protected. The good news is that you easily remove that long-lasting, chip resistant U.V. manicure with items that you probably already have at home. Our simple gel nail removal guide will give you a fresh start while keeping nails healthy. Here's how to remove gel nail polish the nail technician-approved way.

1. Grab Everything You'll Need Before Getting Started.

You’ll need a towel to protect your table, cuticle oil, a glass bowl, acetone nail polish remover, a nail file, a cuticle pusher, and a buffer.

2. Create your at-home salon space.

Get yourself organized by laying out your towel (fold it so it’s thick) and setting out all your tools. You can place a paper towel over your work area to collect the gel as you scrape it off.

3. Break Out the Nail File.

Before you break out the nail polish remover, grab a coarse nail file and gently and slowly sand down the top layer of polish.
The point here is not to sand all the polish off. You're really just roughing up the topcoat, so take it slow. Avoid filing too far into the color. Basically, you just want to remove the shine.

4. Protect Your Skin.

Before soaking your nails, generously apply cuticle oil to the entire tip of your finger to keep your nails protected and hydrated.

5. Soak Your Nails.

Fill your glass bowl with about an inch of acetone nail polish remover. Place your fingertips in the remover for about five minutes, or until you notice the gel beginning to curl up and lift.

6. Gently scrape away the remaining polish.

Gently being the key word here. Applying just a little pressure, use your cuticle stick or manicuring brush to scrape away the the remaining polish. If the polish isn't sliding off with minimal pressure, that's a sign that it needs more nail polish remover: place your fingertips back into the acetone for another minute or two and then try again. Repeat this process until the gel is completely removed.

7. Buff and moisturize nails and cuticles.

Once the gel is completely removed, use a buffer to smooth your nail plate. Generously apply cuticle oil, and massage it into your nails to nourish them. If you enjoyed this post, you can read our other blog posts here.