For all you beauties out there who love gels but don't have the time or the money to go redo them, here's a way to take them off at home. (please read the disclaimer below)
Disclaimer: Attempting to remove gel nails at home comes at your own risk. It is highly recommended to seek out a professional nail technician to help you remove your gel nails in a salon. Please be careful when using any tools or chemicals on your skin as most of the ones mentioned in this post are "for professional use only". Please note that I have had my professional license for over 10 years, and the technique I have shown here is my own way of removing gels on myself. I am not responsible for anything that happens to you. Following any advice in the blog post is done at your own risk.
- Aluminum Foil- I used the 18 inch long box instead of the 12 inch standard box. You can tear more squares
- Cotton Balls
- Acetone - Please use acetone. Simple polish remover" will not work as well.
- Coarse File
- Nail Buffer
- Cuticle Pusher
- Nail Strengthener (optional)
- Cuticle Oil (optional)
Step 1: Prep Foil Squares
Tear off about 4-5 inches of foil. Fold the foil in half hotdog-style. Tear off vertically about 2.5 inch squares. You'll end up with 5 rectangular pieces.
Tear each of those rectangular pieces in half where the original "hotdog" fold is. You should now have 10 squares.
Step 2: Break the Seal
The top coat of your gel set is what protects your gels and makes them shiny. You are going to have to break the seal.
Take your coarse file, lay it flat on your nail, and begin to file/buff away just the top layer of your gels. If your file isn't as coarse, it'll take a lot longer to file through. Don't go back and forth in the same place too often or else you will eat through all the layers and scratch your REAL nail.
File/buff until all the "shininess" goes away and your nails look "roughed up".
Step 3: Pull, Soak, and Fold
Start with your pinky and work your way around. Be sure to complete one nail at a time.
Grab a cotton and pull off a small bit as large as your nail. Pour acetone into the cotton piece until soaked. Place a foil square under your nail and apply the cotton to the top of your nail.
Fold the foil back towards your body. Then fold over the right side towards the left. Then fold the left side over the right. Squish the foil tight.
Repeat for all 10 nails. Wait 5-10 minutes. *hint: do all 8 fingers first, then your thumbs last
Step 4: Scrape Off
After 5-10 minutes, your gels should be ready to take off. Open one foil at a time. Take your cuticle pusher and carefully scrape the gel off with light-medium pressure from your cuticle towards the tip of your nail. Don't scrape it too hard! The gels should come off with ease.
Repeat for all 10 fingers.
If there are bits of stubborn gel left over, soak a new piece of cotton, wrap that nail again for 3-5 minutes, and scrape the gel off again.
Step 5: Buff Nails
Once your nails are all clean with no gels left, it's time to buff. Your buffer should be from a fine to medium grade. Nothing too coarse.
Place your buffer flat on top of you nail and move right to left in a "sawing" motion. Tilt the buffer to the left and right side to get the curved edges of your nails.
Your nails should be smooth after a couple motions of this.
Don't mind the bit of "dust" from the buffer than comes off.
Step 6: Clean Up
Wash your nails/ hands thoroughly.
Cut down or file your nails to your liking. Apply a nail strengthener or polish a fresh color.
Follow up with a cuticle oil to keep fingers from feeling too dry. Voila!
1) Please do not peel your gels off. The base coat is stuck to your nail bed. Peeling off your gels means peeling off that first layer of your nail and the gel too. Yikes!
2) Please be wary of how many times you continuously get a new set of gels. After so many rounds, your nails will feel weaker and thinner. This is not because of the acetone or the buffing. This is due to the lack of oxygen your nails are getting. Your nails are not "breathing"- they are suffocating because you are constantly placing gels on them for weeks on end.
I personally recommend taking a break after every 3-4 sets of gels. Remove your gels and just wear regular polish or nail strengthener for about week. This will give your nails a chance to breathe again and will ensure that your nails stay strong and healthy.
3) If you can't keep up with gels, polishing with a sheer color can help them look more professional. Once your polish chips, remove the color and start again. If you can't keep up with polish, ask for a buff shine! It's a "shine" layer on your natural nails that will just fade.