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How to Remove Gel Nail Polish

Beauty Trends

How to Remove Gel Nail Polish How to Remove Gel Nail Polish How to Remove Gel Nail Polish

You go to the salon and treat yourself to a gel manicure, maybe you even indulge in a little nail art. But what are you supposed to do when you tire of having those short neon nails? Eventually, you’re bound to want to switch things up. And with the staying power of gel nail polish, you may end up asking yourself, “how long does a gel manicure last?” While gel nail polish can last without a chip for a few weeks, it can linger on your nails for even longer. So, how do you remove gel nail polish when the time comes? Much like removing acrylic nails, it can be a bit of process! Below, we’re breaking down how to remove gel nail polish, but first, let’s talk about what not to do.


Gel manicures sometimes get a bad rap that can be attributed to people getting the removal process all wrong. Have you heard that getting a gel mani will leave your nails in an unfit state? Well, there’s some truth to that statement for a lot of people, but it’s often due to a mistake on their end. If you pry your gel nail polish off your nails when you’re feeling fed up with it, yes, you’ll likely end up with damaged nails. No, gel polish is not meant to be ripped or peeled off—even if it has started to lift on its own. While taking off gel polish the right way may not be as quick (or oddly satisfying), it’s the right way for a reason.


Ready to learn how to take off gel nail polish? Follow these steps the next time you want to get gel nail polish off stat.

1. File the tops of your nails. If you have your gel polish professionally removed, the first thing they’re likely to do is reach for a nail file. You can also do this at home to speed up the removal process. Take your nail file and go over the gel that’s on your nails.

2. Soak and wrap. Take cotton balls or pads and saturate them with pure acetone. Save your regular nail polish remover for another occasion and break out the big guns for this one! Place the pads on your nails and then wrap them with aluminum foil. If you aren’t particularly dexterous, you may need a friend to help you with your non-dominant hand!

Editor’s note: In a pinch and don't have any cotton pads? You can make almost anything work if necessary. Try pieces of paper towels or napkins if you find yourself in a gel nail polish removing emergency.

3. Wait it out. Taking off gel polish does require a bit of patience. While your nails are all wrapped up and your hands are essentially useless, turn on a TV show or listen to a podcast. After around 15 minutes, take a peek under one of the pieces of foil. Is the gel polish practically falling off your nails? If yes, move on to the next step. If no, give your nails more time.

4. Buff your nails. When the gel polish is lifting right off, unwrap your nails and remove the cotton pads. You should be able to wipe the gel polish off easily at this point. Once you’re left looking at your natural nails, grab a nail buffer and buff your nails. This can help smooth out any rough spots and remove any discoloration that certain shades of nail polish can leave behind.

5. Pamper your cuticles. Acetone is a must when it comes to how to remove gel polish, but it can take a toll on your cuticles. The skin around your nails is likely to be feeling pretty dry right about now, so use a little cuticle oil and slather your hands in hand cream or an all-over balm, like the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydra Nutrition Manuka Honey All Over Balm – Face, Neck, Chest and Hands.

You’re officially free of your gel nail polish and ready to plan your next manicure! Want to consider the ultimate nail trend right now? In that case, click over to our article, Jelly Nails Are Our New Favorite Nail Trend.