Six Incredibly Effective Methods For Removing Gel Polish

Gel polish has become increasingly popular in recent years because it is incredibly durable, and very easy to use.

With gel polish, you can get a professional finish on your nails without having to visit a nail technician, and that is why we love it so much. But, there is one drawback of gel polish, and that is the fact that it is often difficult to take off. 

Six Incredibly Effective Methods For Removing Gel Polish

Thankfully, there are a number of different methods that you can use to remove gel polish. One of the most popular methods is acetone, but this is quite a slow process, and it can be pretty tedious. That is why you might be looking for a different method to use. 

Depending on what you have at home, there are lots of things that you can use to take off gel polish. In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at 6 of the best ways to do this. So to find out more, keep on reading. 

What Is Gel Polish?

What Is Gel Polish

In recent years, gel nail polish has become one of the most popular types of polish. That is because gel polish is incredibly durable, so when you apply this polish to your nails it really lasts. 

Gel polish is able to last so long because it contains acrylic monomers and oligomers that bond together when placed under a UV light.

When the gel nail polish is placed beneath a UV light, these two ingredients cure together, transforming the polish into a hard and tough coating. 

The key difference between gel polish and regular nail polish is the fact that it forms a thicker coat on your nails. So, it will not chip or wear as easily. This is why it has become so popular. 

Is It Difficult To Remove Gel Polish?

Is It Difficult To Remove Gel Polish

Due to the toughness in its design, gel polish is a little more tricky to remove than other nail polish. This means that it often takes longer to remove the gel polish from your nails, especially when using traditional methods, such as acetone. 

But, once you know what you are doing, removing gel polish is no more difficult than removing any other type of nail polish. That is as long as you have the right tools to help you along with the task. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at six of the best ways to take off gel polish, and what makes them so great. 

Method 1 – Finger Cots 

Method 1 - Finger Cots 

Easily one of the most effective methods for removing gel polish is to use finger cots. The great thing about this method is that you can still get on with your life while your nails are soaking. Let’s take a look at what you need for this method. 

What You Need

What To Do

Once you have gathered everything that we have listed above, you are ready to begin removing your gel polish. Here is what you need to do: 

  1. If you do not have experience with removing gel polish, skip this step and head straight to step two. If you have experience with removing gel polish, then you should begin by filing the top coat of the polish off using the nail file. This will make the process quicker, as the acetone will have to work less hard to remove the polish. 
  1. Take your bowl and pour around 5-6 teaspoons of pure acetone into it. Then take your cotton, and make 10 small thumb-sized cotton balls out of it. Add these balls to the acetone, and leave them to soak. 
  1. Starting with your left-hand, use your right-hand to apply one acetone-soaked cotton ball to each fingernail on your left-hand (including your thumb). 
  1. Next, you need to begin applying a finger cot to each nail. Starting with the tip of each finger, roll the finger cot over your nail to ensure that the cotton wool ball is held in place. Roll it down until it is mid-way through the second knuckle, then repeat for every finger. 
  1. Repeat this on the other hand, then leave the finger cots on your nails for 15 minutes to allow the acetone to soak. During this time, you can do things with your hands such as light house chores, using your cellphone, and typing on your laptop. 
  1. Once the 15 minutes have passed, remove the nail cots to expose the fingernails. Then use your gel removal tool to push the gel polish off of your nails. Repeat until all the polish has been removed from your nails. 

The Benefits 

  • You can do other things while the acetone is soaking on your nails. 
  • You do not have to sit with your fingers soaking in a bowl of acetone for 15 minutes. 
  • It uses a lot less acetone, and this is much healthier for your nail plates. 

Method 2 – Finger Clips 

Method 2 - Finger Clips 

Another method that is fairly similar to finger cots is the finger clips method. So, let’s take a look at what this method entails. 

What You Need

What To Do

As you can see, all but one of the tools that you need for this job is the same as what you need for the method above. So, once you have gathered this, you are ready to begin removing your gel nail polish. 

  1. Begin by filing the top coat of nail polish off using the medium-grit nail file. If this is your first time doing this, be incredibly careful as you risk damaging your nails if you file too hard or too deep. 
  1. Create 10 small thumb-sized balls of cotton wool and add them to the bowl. Once you have done this, add around 3 teaspoons of pure acetone on top of the cotton wool balls. Give it a minute to allow the acetone to soak in. 
  1. Add a cotton wool ball to each fingernail, then add a nail clip to each nail as you go. Leave the nail clips on each finger for 20 minutes to allow the acetone to work. 
  1. Take the nail clip off of one nail, and test the loosened gel polish using the gel removal tool. If the gel budges, then remove the gel completely off of that nail and move onto the next finger. If it doesn’t, reapply the acetone-soaked cotton wool and nail clip then move onto the next finger. 
  1. Continue doing this across all your fingers until you are able to remove the gel polish completely off of all your nails.  

The Benefits

  • The acetone only touches your fingernails, not your fingers. 
  • This process only takes around 20 minutes to work. 

The Drawbacks

  • You cannot do anything while the nail clips are on your nails. 

Method 3 – Aluminum Foil

Method 3 - Aluminum Foil

Another method that is fairly similar, but uses an item you likely already have at home is this one. Let’s take a look at what you need to do. 

What You Need

What To Do

Once you have gathered everything above, you are ready to get started:

  1. Create 10 thumb-sized cotton wool balls and add them to the bowl. Add around 3-4 teaspoons of acetone to the bowl and leave the cotton balls to soak. 
  1. Add an acetone-soaked cotton ball to each fingernail, then wrap the top of each finger in aluminum foil to hold the cotton ball in place. Repeat this until you have covered all your fingernails, then wait for 20 minutes. 
  1. Remove the aluminum foil and cotton wool ball from one finger, and use the gel removal tool to test how loose the gel polish is. If the gel polish comes off easily, remove it then move onto the next finger. If it doesn’t, remove as much as possible, then reapply the cotton ball and aluminum foil to your finger. 
  1. Repeat this until you have removed the gel polish from all of your fingers. If you had a particularly thick coat of gel polish, then this process might take a little while. 

The Benefits

  • This method is widely used in nail salons. 
  • It only uses equipment that you will likely already have at home. 

The Drawbacks

  • It can be pretty difficult to apply the aluminum foil to your fingers by yourself. 

Method 4 – Heated Acetone

Method 4 - Heated Acetone

This method is a little different, but like the methods we have looked at above, it uses acetone to remove your gel polish. Let’s take a look at what you need to do. 

What You Need

  • Pure Acetone
  • Medium-grit Nail File
  • 1 Small Glass Bowl (large enough to fit all your fingers in)
  • 1 Larger Bowl (big enough to hold the other bowl inside it)
  • Hot Water
  • Gel Removal Tool

What To Do

Once you have gathered all the things above, you can then begin this method: 

  1. Take your medium-grit nail file, and begin to file the top layer of gel polish off of your nails. Again, take care if this is your first time doing this as too much force could damage your nail plate. So, take it slowly. 
  1. Use your microwave to heat some water, then pour the hot water into the larger bowl. Then pour your pure acetone into the smaller bowl, and place the smaller bowl inside the larger bowl. 
  1. Find a well-ventilated area in your home, and set up a table and seating area for yourself. You will have to sit here for around half an hour, so it is important that you pick a suitable place.
  1. Sit at the table, and soak all your fingernails in the acetone for at least 15 minutes (preferably longer). Once the 15 minutes have passed, use your gel removal tool to test how loose the nail polish is. If the nail polish is loose enough to remove, then do this. If it is still tough, then soak your fingers for longer. 
  1. Repeat until all the gel polish has been removed from your fingernails. 

The Benefits

  • The hot water allows the acetone to do the job quicker, speeding up the entire process. 

The Drawbacks

  • You have to sit still for around 15-30 minutes, and cannot use your hands in this time. 
  • This method works better if you have somebody there to help you, otherwise it will take longer. 

Method 5 – Oil 

Method 5 - Oil 

This next method is a little different as it doesn’t use acetone in the process. So, if you are somebody who dislikes acetone, this is the perfect method for you. Here’s what you need to do. 

What You Need

What To Do

As you can see, the list of things that you need for this method is actually pretty short, and so is the method. So, let’s take a look at what you need to do in order to remove your gel polish using cooking oil. 

  1. Apply a layer of oil to each fingernail, and give it a minute or two to allow the oil to soak into the gel polish on each fingernail. 
  1. Rub the gel polish with your finger, and then with the gel removal tool to try to loosen the gel polish and remove it from your fingernail. 
  1. Repeat the process of adding oil, and using the gel removal tool to loosen the polish until you are able to remove it from your fingernails entirely. Keep the nails well oiled throughout. 

The Benefits 

  • This is a great method if you do not want to risk drying your nails out by using acetone on them. 

The Drawbacks

  • This is a very time-consuming process, and it is rather tedious. 
  • This method also requires a lot of work in order to do it successfully. 

Method 6 – Hot Water

Hot Water

Finally, let’s take a look at how you can use hot water to remove gel polish from your fingernails. Here is what you need to do. 

What You Need

What To Do

In order to remove your gel polish using just hot water and a gel removal tool, these are the steps that you will need to follow:

  1. Fill a large bowl with hot water, and keep a ready supply of hot water nearby. Then, soak both your hands in the hot water at the same time, ensuring that your fingernails are fully submerged. 
  1. After a few minutes, take your gel removal tool or tweezers, and attempt to loosen the gel polish. If unsuccessful, re-submerge your fingernails in the hot water. 
  1. Repeat this until the gel polish loosens enough for you to remove it using your tweezers or gel removal tool. Throughout the process, it is important that you constantly refill the bowl to ensure that it is constantly filled with hot water. This method will not work with cool or lukewarm water. It must be hot. 

The Benefits

  • This method does not use acetone, it only uses water, so it will not dry your nails out. 

The Drawbacks

  • You can over-hydrate your nails using this method, and it could damage your nails if you do not give your nails time to dry after completing this method. 
  • Just like the oil method, this method takes a long time, and it is a lot of hard work compared to the acetone methods that we looked at. 

Summary 

In short, there is no denying that the best method for removing gel polish from your fingernails is the finger cot method that we looked at first.

But, if you are looking for another method to try out, or specifically a method that doesn’t use acetone, check out the guide above to find out more. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover To Take Off Gel Polish?

Unfortunately, acetone-free nail polish remover is not effective when it comes to removing gel polish from your fingernails. This is because acetone-free nail polish remover simply does not have the strength to penetrate the gel polish. 

But, you can use other methods that do not include acetone to remove your gel polish. These methods include the hot water and oil methods that we looked at earlier in this guide. 

Can You File Off Gel Polish?

Yes, you can use a nail file to remove gel polish off of your fingernails. However, this should only be done to remove the top coat of gel polish from your fingernails.

If you use a nail file to remove the top layer of gel polish, it will speed up the removal process significantly. But, you should never use a nail file to remove more than the top layer of gel polish. 

If you use a nail file to remove more than just the top layer of nail polish, then you run the risk of damaging your natural fingernails. That is why it is advised that you do not use a nail file at all if it is your first time removing gel polish at home. 

Do Gel Nails Ruin Your Nails?

Yes, there is a chance that gel nails can ruin your nails. But, this is avoidable as long as you look after your nails between gel applications. Gel polish can dry your nails and cause brittleness, in the same way that acetone does.

This is why it can damage your nails. 

However, if you ensure that you rehydrate your nails properly between treatments, by using oils and other hydration routines, then your nails should be fine.

It is also important to give your nails a break from nail polish now and then to ensure that they remain healthy. 

Miranda Cole
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