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We’ve all been there: Your gel polish starts to lift, giving you the urge to peel it off. Even if you think it will be pain-free and will cause minimal damage, avoid peeling off your gel polish at all costs as doing so will leave your nails thin, weak and prone to breakage. So what should you do? Read on to discover the right way to take off gel polish at home.

Step 1: Buff

Much like the techs do in the salon, it’s important that you buff off the top layer of gel to remove the shine and make it easier for the acetone to break down the polish.

Step 2: Prepare the foil

Before you can get to soaking, it’s best to have everything ready. Cut 10 strips of foil and lay them out on a flat surface.

Step 3: Soak cotton with acetone

Next, grab a cotton pad and soak it with 100-percent pure acetone. Avoid using acetone-free polish remover as the formula will not break down the gel. Make sure the cotton is completely soaked, then place it on the center of the nail and wrap the nail with a piece of foil. Squeeze the foil wrap to secure the cotton onto the nail.

Step 4: Allow nail to soak

Probably the hardest part about DIY gel removal is allowing the nails to fully soak in order to break down the gel. Though salons usually allot 15-20 minutes for soaking, we suggest soaking for 20-25 minutes to ensure the acetone has enough time to do its job.

Step 5: Push off the polish

If you’ve done everything correctly, then the gel polish should already have broken down a bit after you remove the foil wrap. To remove the remaining product, gently push the gel off the nail with an orangewood stick or a cuticle pusher. If you find that the gel doesn’t come off easily, then you must soak another 5-10 minutes. Avoid scraping off the gel polish as it will damage the nail plate. After the gel polish has been removed, apply cuticle oil and lotion to rehydrate your nails and skin if desired, and voila!—your nails will be 100-percent polish-free!


For even more nail care tips and the latest festival-inspired nail art, be sure to check out all of our articles!