How To Remove Gel Nail Polish

Have you had a gel manicure?   Salons advertise a gel manicure to stay on your nails anywhere between two and three weeks.  (I confess I have not had these results, but mine have lasted a good 10 days.)  I do love a gel manicure.  But removing a gel manicure is a process. And a pain, in my opinion.  You will find yourself sitting like this, with your hands sitting in acetone for far too long.

Then you scrape your nails to get the gel off.  Soak them some more. Scrape. Soak. Scrape. Soak. Scrape. Soak. You get the point!

On my girls weekend, one of my friends had a novel idea….wrap your fingertips in acetone with foil around them (which should generate some heat, thus speeding up the process).  Since my fingernails were starting to look a big haggard, I figured I’d give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised….it worked!

Here is how to remove gel nail polish in three easy steps.


Gather supplies: gauze, tin foil and acetone (mine was purchased in Mexico, hence the spanish).


Soak gauze with acetone .  Put gauze on nails and wrap fingertips in foil.


Let acetone sit on nails for five to seven minutes. Take foil off and check to see if they are ready to scrape. You shouldn’t even need a tool to scrape the gel polish. My thumb was my tool and the gel came off easy as can be!

After a few minutes, your nails should be gel free!

(Looks like my nails could use a little solar oil and lotion…or maybe a new gel manicure!)

Pretty easy, huh?!

***Disclaimer: I am a a blog writer, a mom, a decorator and a fan of DIY. I did not go to beauty school nor do I paint nails for a living.  This is just a method that my hair stylist recommended for me to try to remove my gel polish at home.  I have found it to be easy and successful over and over again.  Though the gel nail polish does tend to make your nails a bit more thin and weak, so keep that in mind when getting your nails polished next time.  This method tends to be more gentle that the rough scraping I have had done at a salon. I hope you have as much success as I have had with it!  Thanks for reading!!***

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  1. I’ve heard of this method. I had my nails done with the gel about a month ago and am just sitting here waiting for them to grow out (I have clear gel).

    I think I’ll try this tonight! Thanks for sharing!


    • This “solution” completely ruined my nails. When I tried one thumbnail to scrape off the other, it removed the entire top layer of my nail. Please be careful – further research or work by a professional is required.

      • Gosh, Denise! I’m sorry that happened! I’m not a beauty writer. Just a mom home decor/DIY blogger. So please do get help from a salon if needed. Gel manicures tend to be really rough on your nails and this method was more gentle than what the salon was doing to my nails. I found that my nails were more thin and weak when I left the salon than they were using this soaking method.

        I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you!


        • Yolanda says:

          Good Deal! Worked like a charm!! Thanks so much~

        • Hi Jen. I’m new to your blog. I just stubbled across it but believe I will add to my list of blogs to follow. 🙂 I do know this post is old, but I was reading the comments about removing gel polish. I was long time wearer of acrylics, when I decided I wanted to give the gel a try. I’ve been wearing it a couple of years now. It’s applied and removed by the same nail tech who did my acrylics and she uses this method for polish removal. the only thing she does differently is to “scuff” them lightly with an emery board (to break the bond)before applying the acetone wraps and then once the polish has loosened, she gently pushes it from the nail with the flat side of an orange stick. Anyway, just wanted to put that out there. I’m off to peruse the rest of your blog. 🙂

      • This is the method that red carpet manicure recommends so you are right. Don’t listen to grumpy pants here, some people I don’t know!

      • Denise and others: Remember, you shouldn’t be “scraping” off anything. The gel nail removal technique is “soak off” only. This is to prevent damage to your nail. If you have to put forth effort into removing the gel polish, via scraping, picking, or rubbing, soak your fingernails a bit longer.

      • Trish Christiansen says:

        I have found that 91% isopropyl alcohol with this method, worked better and faster than acetone. I couldn’t remove my gel with the acetone/nail polish remover.

        Trish RN

  2. I wish I learned this a while back!! My nails were so week after my gel manicure, but, finally they are strong again and I’m just doing regular polish 🙂

    I’m stopping by from HOH’s linky party. Here is what I shared this week:

    • Mischelle T says:

      Try using iodide tincture. It is white ( clear ) iodine. you may have to have your pharmacy order it, but it works. Put a drop on top and under nail every day and rub in for thick strong nails. After a month you can go to 3 times a week. Hope this works for you.

      • Charmaine Brown says:

        Thank for this tip. I have always has extremely weak nails. Started having my nails done, but it is very “dressy”. As I am always doing diy projects, hate wearing gloves, I am going to give this a try. I prefer a natural look

  3. This is pretty much the way I take mine gel polish off too. And I agree 10 days is about what I get before I’m ready to re-paint. I use the Ulta Red Carpet system at home. It’s pretty good. Here’s a link to my post

  4. I had my first gel manicure about a week ago. It seems to be on for the long haul! LOL 🙂

    I did not know before I had it done that it was going to be a challenge to get it off! My daughter mentioned that to me AFTER the fact. (sweet girl)

    THANK YOU! for your post. I am feeling MUCH less stressed about having to take it off later.

    robin 🙂

  5. Fantastic! This is so easy! 🙂

  6. Natalie says:

    that’s how the salons do it.

  7. so does this work with the powder gel nails? i am not sure if there is more than one kind…
    are you saying I dont need to go to the salon for them to remove parts of it with the machine?

    • Hi Val!! I’m not sure what powder gel nails are. But for the typical gel manicure (not acrylic nails or the kind add a ‘false’ nail to your nails).. But the regular gel polish that goes on in about 5 coats and you ‘cure’ under the lights…this does work! It’s fantastic! I’m not a nail technician but this was recommended but someone at a salon. If you have a gel manicure, give it a try! It’ll save you a trip to the salon.


    • I will never get another gel manicure.

      I asked the manicurist before she applied the gel if it would be difficult to remove and she said no.

      It has been really really hard to remove all of the gel and it did hurt my natural nails significantly.

      If it seems to good to be true it usually is

      • I’ve had the clear gel done and its been on my nails 4 months or longer nothing I’ve tried has took it I’m waiting for them to grow out more so I can file them..i keep them long that’s why I just have to wait

  8. I just wanted to say a huge thank you for this tip. I just finished with it and it took 7 minutes per hand. I did one hand at a time. It worked perfectly. They look great but I must say…I am not a fan of the gel nail polish. I have nice natural nails and do not like the bulky feel to my nails after a gel polish. Thank you again.

    • Oh good! I’m thankful that the tip was helpful! It really is a speedy way to remove the polish. And it saves you a trip into the salon!!


  9. I used this method with cotton balls instead of gauze and it worked perfectly! Thank you so much!

    • Shalonda says:

      I used this method with cotton balls also and it worked great! This was my first and last time doing gel nails. My nails grow naturally long and pretty so no need for any polish; gel or regular. I’ll just let them be as they are. Thanks for the great suggestion!

  10. Jen,
    Thank you so much for the tip!
    I’m here in the NW as well(Puyallup), and just tried a gel nail kit from Walmart $49:)
    My gel lasts about 2 weeks, and now I am not dreading the removal process. At a South Hill nail salon, they soak my fingers in a bowl of acetone for 20 to 45 min. It is then very easy to remove the gel, but not good to soak ones digits in acetone for that long!

  11. Thank you! I’m so glad I found your blog. My last gel manicure started falling apart after less than a week. I didn’t want to make another appointment to sit for another hour at the salon, so I tried this. I used cotton rounds cut in half and doubled over instead of gauze. I also put Vaseline over my fingertips to keep them from drying out. In less than 15 minutes, my polish was off. At the salon I once asked if regular nail polish remover would work on gel polish, and they just told me that they use a special kind. My regular kind works just as well.

  12. Thanks for your help. I’m going to give this method a try sounds good.

  13. Thanks for the great post. You were the top hit on google for “how to remove gel polish at home” and I don’t need to search any further. You have a beautiful blog and a great writing style. Thank you for the advice!

    • I hope removing your gel nail polish worked out well!! I love the simplicity of this method.

      Thanks for reading.


  14. i am so going to try this…i can’t get more than 10 days out of a gel manicure either…they start to chip and grow out…i will try the vaseline or cuticle oil o my cuticles before too…thanks for all the tips!

    • Thanks so much for reading!!

    • There is a product called nail bond that will help if you have an oily nail base. I didnt notice that my nails were oily but it does increase the wear time of my gel manicures. I have awful thin flaky nails and the gel manicures have made my nails stronger when I have it on and I havent noticed them being worsewhen its off. The soak off method is the only safe/healthy way to remove this polish. Mine has some growth but no peeling/chipping for about 24 days.

  15. OMG! I have always had beautiful, long and strong nails but I never wear polish. I got a new (and rich!) boyfriend just over a month ago.

    I was wearing sandals that night, as usual and my toes were polished. I polish them because they are sort of ugly. I am a race walker and my feet/toes can take a beating. I was jokingly complaining about my toe nails/feet in relation to walking and said that I have always wondered if a pedi would help. Well, he insisted that I get the full treatment as his expense the next day….I agreed. 😀

    I was convinced by the nail lady (what are they called?) to get the gel because I was going on a kayaking trip a week later. Well, my nails (feet and hands) looked great but I can’t get the gel polish off! It’s partially chipped away but the remaining part will not come off.

    I will try this method and I will NEVER get gel polish again.

  16. Did this today worked great. I had started off soaking then googled and voila. Done so easy

  17. I just wanted so say thank you so much for this tip!! I was sitting with my fingers in a bowl of acetone for over 10 minutes and barely anything was happening! I decided that SOMEONE must have figured a better way. That’s when I clicked on a link to this page and saw a pic that looked exactly like what my fingers looked like! It was hilarious. I do the foil an it worked perfectly and my nails are unharmed and look clean. Thank you again!! You rock!

  18. Jen
    I just had my 2nd gel polish. I thought I liked the first until I found I couldn’t get it off without chipping the top layer of my nail off. I didn’t like that as my nails are so weak in the first place. Then when I went to the salon for the second one ….yes, I went through the soaking process. Then there was a dremel tool with a course grade wheel on it. I really didn’t like that in any way. I could have picked it off and not lost so much of my top layer of nail. Now I am looking at the entire winter to grow them out. My question is ..if I Do use your method, will the electric dremel too be used anyway?? I’ll never go back again if it is.

    • Oh no! This is so fast and easy and does not damage your nails. They may feel a touch thinner, depending no how aggressive you are with scraping. But honestly, if you let them soak long enough (and 5 to 10 min should be PLENTY long) then you should be able to scape it off with your thumb! No dremel. Not major scraping. Nothing. I agree – gel can be tough on your nails. But this method of removing them is much more pleasant on your nails! Let me know how it turns out!

    • I had no idea trying to remove the polish would leave my nails so thin & tender. The tech talked me into it saying it would last longer but never told me how difficult if would be to remove the gel. Now I’m starting all over trying to strengthen my nails. I’ll stick to a simple manicure from now on.

  19. My toes are wrapped in foil as I write this! I hope it is as easy as your post and comment-ers all say 🙂 I wanted to pipe up and say that if if you have had trouble with your gel manicure before 2 weeks time, you should let your salon know. The salon I go to will remove it from their inventory so that no 1 else will get a bum manicure from that same bottle.

  20. KonaKathie says:

    I LOVE the new gel manis. Got a kit from Walmart with the UV light and everything. My salon mani only lasted about 10 days, that would be fine if my new, self-done one lasts that long. Soaked off the old one with this method and did my own nails last night. They rock!

  21. Noreen Ayres says:

    Thank you for this blog! I found it by trying to find out how to self-remove gel nails. What I don’t like about them is that they are too thick. That affects simple things I do around the house, like typing (it feels funny, almost sore), picking up things, separating a bobby pin, opening a cat food can — oh, I know you’re not supposed to be doing that with your nails, but hey, sometimes there are emergencies! I’ll be trying removal soon!

  22. thank you….i will definitely try this……it is with regular nail-polish
    remover right?

  23. Thank youm thank you, thank you. i was desesperated trying to remove the gel manicure from my nails. Your idea was brilliant !

  24. So glad to find this! Mine has lasted a month but I started peeling bits off myself and it is looking bad. Another site added a step. It said if you rough up the top with an emery board the rest of the process will go quicker. I don’t have straight acetone so I will be trying this later. 🙂

  25. Thanks for posting this, I will definitely be trying this today!

    God Bless,

  26. I have always had problems with nail polish on my nails. I’m lucky if it lasts 24-48 hours before it starts to chip – it didn’t matter if I did them or had them done at a salon. When I had my manicure and pedicure done on a cruise ship 18 days I had my toe nails done with regular polish and decided to try gel polish for my fingernails. Well 18 days later they still look amazing…no chips!! My fingernails look like they need to be back filled a little as you can see the new growth. I have very good strong healthy nails and haven’t noticed any problems with thickness of the gel polish. To me it feels about the same as if I had a regular manicure. Must say I love the gels on my fingernails. I found this site as I was curious about how to remove them when they need removing. Now I need to find a salon near home that gives great mani/pedis and does the gels. I will definitely get them again as I love to wear polish, hate false nails, and hate regular polish that chips so soon after being done. I love that the gel nails are completely dry and done after beng under the lights. Can’t tell you how many times I have ruined a good manicure because the nails weren’t full dry! Thanks for the great info.

    • I love this post, because I have the same problem. Whenever I get a mani/do them myself, half the time I mess them up before dry. I am currently at a salon getting my first gel manicure(along with a pedicure). I will not be returning to this salon ever because, as previously stated, regular polish doesn’t last, so when I actually go pay the money it is for the pampering effect, soaking them, cleaning up cuticles, repairing damaged skin around the nails, hand lotion and massaging. This place was bellow par. Anyway, I knew that removing them was not as easy as regular polish, so while waiting for a pedi station to be available, slightly disgruntled, I decided to look it up and came across this blog. It made me even more sad because everyone was saying it hardly lasts, I felt like I was wasting money jbecause I thought they were supposed to last a long time, at least 2weeks to a month. I am glad that you posted that yours has lasted as long as it is supposed to and that you like it. I will definitely be trying this method of removal, when it is time. 🙂

      • I love your posts! My son’s girlfriend took me for my first time at having my toes and nails done! What fun that was! Oh and I made sure I asked around to make sure we were going somewhere that was good and clean! And a month later my nails are still looking fantastic. I so love how they look and feel. Mind you I was worrying about how to take it off. Now I’m not worried. I sure want to have my nails done again, but want to go in when I want to. Like maybe every other month. So because our nails do keep growing, at some point the polish has to come off and the nails cut back so I can keep typing without hitting other keys! I sure love how they look and because I used a beige color (thanks to the girls idea) the growing out isn’t as noticeable! So thank you everyone, looking forward to my next nail visit! Will have to do it with all the girls again. So much fun and laughing!

  27. Oh my goodness!! I found this on Pinterest and have been WISHING for some way to get rid of these gel nails! I got them done for my sister in law’s wedding about a month ago and they look HORRID! I am so excited to try this today!! Thank you sooo much!!

  28. Thanks for the tip!! I have only one more nail to go but I’ll do this next time! My first gel lasted three weeks! I don’t like the nails I found under the gel I removed. Rough, dry and thin! Ugh!

  29. I’ve had gels on for 5 days and I’m not liking the bulk it has created and I want to take them off. Will this process work even though I’ve had them on for 5 days?

  30. Glad to learn how to remove the gel manicure. I got mine Sept 21, 2012 and today is October 30, 2012 and they look oddly done/coming undone but a beautiful red! I have time because we in NYC had Hurricaine Sandy yesterday. I would definately get the gel again, I originally went to a party. Curious about the Walmart kit. Well not done yet but on the agenda! Thanks everybody!

  31. how do i remove gel polish off acrylic nails

  32. seeing how u cant use acetone on acrylic please and thank u

  33. thank you so much for this tip! i love gel nails. i treat myself to them every couple months or for special occasions. im not sure why people torchure themselves trying to pick them off. my issue was that I would go to the salon to get a regular mani/pedi and would have to pay $10 extra to have them soaked off. i found your site then i finally went to a beauty supply place paid $4.99 for a large bottle of pure acetone and followed your directions (except that I used cotton balls) and it worked like a dream. i was able to push the polish off with my thumb. thank you so much for the tip!!!

  34. I saw a similar method on another website, and I tried this using cotton balls. it didn’t really work well. I saw this website, so I thought I’d try again. I wasn’t really expecting it to work. I didn’t have any gauze, so I used paper towels instead. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked! I did have to scrape a little, but I just used another nail to do it. I will definitely use the method always!

  35. gelnailmom says:

    I used my NON-acetone polish remover thinking it was acetone. The process worked great for me. I made five little foil-fingers with half a cotton ball each and finished both hands in less than twenty minutes.

    Thanks for the great fix! I like your blog too 🙂

  36. I’ve only done gel nails a few times, and each time I just let them grow out until I could pull off the whole gel in one motion, but this time I was tired of my manicure within ten days (did it myself and I’m still practicing). I tried this technique and I’m SO glad I didn’t sit with my nails in acetone for 30 minutes. Also glad I didn’t have to use tools to scrape the stuff off and ruin the nail bed! I love gel nails but don’t want to make my nails unhealthy. I’ll be trying this again! Thank you!

  37. I had that done for a wedding abs they lasted like a month so i decided to start rippung them off and my finger nails look kind of purple is that from ripping them off?

  38. This method is brilliant and a real lifesaver!
    I had never had gel or Shellac on my nails before. I love the fact that it lasted for more than 3 weeks and even went through the torture of my cooking. But when I went to remove the polish I was horrified that it wouldn’t come off like normal nail polish.
    Thank you very much Jen! I experimented with one nail first and was astonished at how easily it came off. Instead of using gauze, I used cotton wool ball. It was brilliant!!!

  39. Can’t wait to try this! I work in a school and really like the fact that the gel manicures allow me to leave the salon dry and without any worry about ruining my nails for at least two weeks. However, they really do require regular up keep and can become quite costly. Thanks for the tip!

  40. I used this after seeing it in the salon. I was very reluctant to try a gel mani again after the first one ruined my nails but this helped. I use the gel polish on toes!!!

  41. I have been looking for a solution for years now this is something that I have to try. Today I broke one of my nails but I have the gel on it and cannot risk pulling it before taking the gel off first. I cannot make it to the salon today so I am going to follow through with this method and hope to get the same results as you. Thanks so much for sharing.

  42. I’m confused about one thing. Do you put a gauze on each nail, leave it on and wrap it with aluminum foil?

  43. I think that some commenters are confusing gel nails with gel nail polish…two different things. Like many commenters I can’t keep regular polish on at all because I use my hands a lot and wash them a lot so the gel was a happy find for me. My 1st gel mani was in a salon and I returned for a second and they used this method to get the polish off. When I got my third, they didn’t let it soak enough and tried to sand it off…I wasn’t happy with that. Since then, I got my own kit and usually do my own in a sheer neutral shade which allows me to fill in regrowth and repair chips every 2 weeks without redoing the whole nail (a real plus) so I get like 3 or 4 weeks out of a full mani + touch up. I choose to do the removal using this method a day before I apply new polish, I always soak until the polish comes off easily (no scraping!!), then use lotion and cuticle oil to help compensate for the drying effect of the acetone. My nails are in great condition.

    • Are you using the powder type or the gel polish? If the gel polish like the Walmart kit, how do you do your fill ins?

  44. Gel nails and gel polish are two different things. Gel nails are a new nail overlay that us made with a powder. These have to be filed off. Gel polish on the other hand is easy to get off with the method above. To make it a little easier you can by nail soaker tips. These are reusable and are only 3.00 for 10. You fill them with acetone and put on each nail. For even faster removal lay something warm over them such as a hit water bottle etc or put them in a bowl of warm water and the pilish just falls off. I got my soakers on eBay. You could also put something warm over the foil wraps. Just remember gel polish manicure and gel powder overlay are two different things. I just do the sensationail gel polish kit st home. It is great.

  45. You are a life saver – was able to do this in a pinch before work this morning!

  46. Want to know How To Remove Nail Polish Naturally

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  47. What i do is get a regular mani with clear gel topcoat… Viola….removal method does not effect nail plate!

  48. I wanted to say thank you for this tip; I just took off my gel manicure using this method. It was a bit time-consuming, but I’m sure that it would speed up if I had used some heat along with the foil.

    Tip: For those that don’t have lotion nearby or want to go a bit more natural, try rubbing a small amount of jojoba oil onto your hands after the polish comes off. This helps moisturize the cuticles and any skin that comes in contact with the acetone.

  49. I want to say thank you……and I wish I would have searched & found your site before I peeled the gel polish off of one thumb.

  50. I do not have very good nails. I had quit polishing my nails because removing the polish would cause my nails to break and split. I decided to try gel polish. I love it. It seems to keep my nails from breaking if I bump them like they would if I didn’t have gel polish on. I have been using gel polish for about 5 or 6 months with great results. The polish would last 3 weeks and only needed to be replaced because they grew out. The salon I used would have me soak my nails in water for several minutes, then peel off the polish. A few weeks ago I went to a salon who used the method of putting acetone-soaked cotton and foil on my nails. Since that time I have had 8 of my nails break off or split and they are extremely soft. I will never use this method again!! The acetone has ruined my nails. There are warnings all over about how acetone polish remover dries out your nails and surrounding skin and causes problems with nails. Even those with strong nails can eventually have problems with breaking nails from acetone.

  51. So glad I found this tip & all of the positive responses. Nail polish won’t stay on my nails. About once a year I get acrylic nails put on. I used to wear my acrylic nails long then I started keeping them short so that I could play my piano without my nails clacking on the keys. After a several months of fills the acrylics start looking too thick & when my nails grow out the acrylic starts separating from my nail. I buy acetone & soak them forever, it seems like or I go to the salon & the manicurist uses the same method as I do. My nails & hands hurt so bad after. I did get my acrylics removed by a salon manicurist. He had me soak ina bowl of warm acetone. That’s the first time that I’ve soaked in warm acetone. I still had to soak for a total of about 20-30 minutes. I asked about some kind of protective coat to apply to my nails. I walked out of the salon with a gel manicure. I was so happy bc my nails looked pretty, they were short & they didn’t hurt. I did ask him if the gel was hard to remove & he said no. A couple of days later I saw on Dr. Oz how bad gel manicures are. I’ve been stressing over this. After reading your instructions, I’m not stressing so much. Your method won’t chap my skin up to my knuckles like soaking does. I’m looking forward to trying your method when the time comes. I’ve had my gel nails on for a week & they still look good …..way better than my acrylics did. So nice to know that I’ll be able to remove them quicker & with minimum to no damage thanks to your instructions & pictures. Thank you! And thanks to everyone who tried it & posted the positive results.

    • I didn’t mean to sound negative. My nails just can not take acetone as I’m sure others deal with also. This method may work for some, but there are many of us who’s nails can’t take this method. This is just a note of caution. My nail salon also says this is damaging to nails and surrounding skin. They will not use it.

      • HI Janet! Thank you for taking the time to comment!! Just to clarify, I’m not a beauty writer. Just a mom/blogger/decorator who has occasionally gotten a gel manicure. I agree that they tend to be rough on your nails. I, like many others, just found it a challenge to remove the polish so wanted to share a quick and simple method to remove them. You have me intrigued by Dr. Oz commenting on them! I’ll have to look that up.

        Again, thanks for commenting and reading my blog!

        • Jen, I have had absolutely no problem with the gel nail polish, I love it and it seems to keep my nails from breaking when I bump them. My problem is with using acetone. That causes major problems for my nails. As long as I don’t use acetone, my nails do great and grow, and I actually have to cut them.

          The person on Dr. Oz seemed to have the most problem with the UV lights used for “curing” the gel. She said the LED lights were much better. The other issue she had was when the nails were soaked in acetone and pushed off with a nail tool that it could cause breaking of the skin in the cuticle area allowing bacteria to get in causing infection. Also the drying caused by the acetone.

          • Hi Janet, So you don’t think the gel nail polish is bad? I do remember now that Dr Oz was talking about the dangers of the UV light used on the gel manicure like you said & he also talked about the damage to the nail caused by the gel removal. I realize how acetone is a nail & skin irritant. It does irritate my nails & skin also. I’ve always done acrylics in the past & the removal of them made my nails thin & irritated my skin. I guess I’m just trying to figure out if the gel manicure is ok to wear to protect my nails after removing the acrylics, what is a good method of removing the gel when I’m ready to take it off & if the damage to the nail upon removing the gel is just as bad as when acrylics are removed.
            I just got my acrylics removed by the salon & for the first time got a gel manicure with the idea that the gel will protect my nails until they grow out. The manicurist said that the gel removal is easy & won’t hurt my nails. I’m just trying to get as much information as I can. I apologize if I’m rambling 🙂 I appreciate your post, too. Thanks.

  52. Kelly Lynn Smith says:

    There are many, many types of gel polishes. To further add to the confusion, some nail techs combine products which is NOT advisable. Others advertise acrylic products as gel or combine them–again, NOT advisable.

    A good nail tech should include removal with the next service. However; IF one decides to try at home, it’s always best to determine the brand and then use that company’s removal instructions. The above method (foil/cotton/acetone) is probably the least invasive and will work with Shellac, Gelish (have personally had it done) and possibly other other UV/LED cure products. If you have a file-off gel product rather than soak-off; removal can be problematic. Bear in mind that there are many, many products and that this is a Chemical process requiring a solvent (such as acetone) to remove and was intended for professionals.

    A good nail tech will tell you what product that they are using and follow ALL of the particular company’s recommended steps. Remember–as in most things, cheaper is not always the best way to go AND mostly one gets what they pay for. Saving a couple of $$$ is not worth putting one’s health at risk.

    • Hi Kelly, Actually my acrylics had a gel topcoat over them. The removal started with electric filing off of the gel topcoat, soaking, wiping off, electric filing….then this was repeated one more time. I’m just wondering what the removal process is for gel polish & what the damage is. Just wondering if the damage is the same as acrylic removal, not as bad, or worse. The gel used on my nails is OPI. My manicurist said that removal is easy & won’t hurt my nail. I ran across this blog & thought I’d see what others say. I’ve removed my acrylics myself & the salon has removed them. Both ways my hands soaked in acetone. The above method does seem less invasive that’s what got my attention & it doesn’t take as long as soaking. I appreciate your post. Thanks.

  53. mp, No, I do not have a problem with the gel polish. It has really helped my nails grow out. It is the removal that seems to cause the problem for me. There are different kinds of gel polishes I believe. The salon I went to that used the acetone drenched cotton and foil must use a stronger base coat than some. I will further explain this shortly. The way the salon removes the polish where I go is for me to soak my finger tips in water for a few minutes then they use a small (pliers like) tool to grab the edges of the polish and peel it off. It peels off down to the first coat put on. Sometimes it comes off in large chunks and sometimes in smaller chunks. After having my hands in dishwater for a while, I ended peeling off about 3 nails very easily.

    After I went to the salon that used the acetone, my other salon had a hard time getting the gel off. As a matter of fact, several layers of nail peeled off on my thumbnail. My recommendation would be to find a salon who uses the method of soaking in water and then their gel and other coats will be what is made for that type of removal if it is a reputable salon who knows what they are doing. I only went to this salon because a friend wanted to try it and asked me to go along.

    Everybody has their own opinions on what they like and don’t like. This is just my opinion and something for others to think about.

    • Janet, Thank you for explaining to me how yours are removed. I really appreciate it. This is my first gel manicure on top of my natural nails 🙂 so I value all input. One more question. Do you put sunscreen on your hands bf you get your nails done? Thank you.

      • mp, I don’t put sunscreen on my hands but it is recommended. I actually just heard about that recommendation so I probably should. One more caution I would give you: don’t let anyone grind your polish off. It takes part of the nail with it so it thins them. I did, however, let my manicurist use it on a few small areas of gel that were not coming off. I watched very carefully and they only did it enough to get the polish off, not the nail.

        • Janet, Thank you for sharing your opinion & experience with me. Much appreciated 🙂

          Thanks to everyone! 🙂 All y’all have been so helpful.

  54. Hi Jen,

    I had my second gel manicure today. The method used to remove the old gel was this one that you posted. It worked great!!!! It worked so fast & I loved not having to soak my hands in a bowl of acetone.I loved how easy the gel came off using this method. I’m getting gel manicures, now, to protect my nails after having my acrylic nails removed until my natural nails grow out. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know. So pleased to know about this.

    Thank you 🙂


  55. Thank you so much for posting this. This is exactly what the manicurist does when I’m in the salon. I am going to get my supplies now so I don’t have to wait any longer for this gel to come off of my fingers.

  56. Thank you so much for your advice, my manicurist seemed to leave out the part of how to get it off. I guess that is how they get return business! About 130 this morning I was waiting for a load of laundry and decided to take off the nail polish prior to my shower and OOPS nothing happened! So now I know what to do THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  57. this was so helpful! thanks for the great post with pictures! Love your blog.

  58. I have had gel manicures done several times and just love them. Being able to walk out of salon with perfectly dry nails no fear of nicking a nail before even getting home is the best. Have had them done in several different places. Some are better than others. I want the polish to go right up against the skin so you don’t see growth in a week. My current one was done 1 1/2 weeks ago and still looks very good. Barely the width of a hair between cuticle and nail. H!asn’t harmed my nails. My nails are strong & grow fairly fast. The first couple I had they used the soaking 5 min. in acetone and a lot of scraping. Last few they have used the cotton/foil method which works great. And the LED light really speeds up the manicure. I think the Brand of polish they use also makes difference. I have had 2 or 3 different brands used at different salons and I think OPI works best. I don’t get what people are saying about nails feeling “thick”. Have never experienced that feeling. Love reading all blogs

  59. Thank you!! I was literally sitting with one hand soaking in a bowl of nail polish remover for 10 mins thinking there must be a better way. Google search brought your blog up and within minutes my fingers were wrapped in foil. It worked perfectly!! I must admit, I may never request a gel manicure again. My once beautiful strong nails are now weak and damaged from the nail polish remover bath they were forced to endure. 🙁 live and learn!

  60. I use this method all the time! I actually use a hair dryer to speed up the process even more. 🙂 Be careful…it gets HOT!! LOL!! You definitely don’t have to scrap your nails it just flakes off! My nails are never ruined by gel polish…it makes mine stronger. Just have to remove it the correct way.

  61. Heather, I agree that gel nails do not break as easily. I’ve bumped mine with gel polish on and they did not break but would have without. My nails can not tolerate ANY acetone. They are still recovering from the gel being removed by wrapping in acetone soaked cotton and foil 2 months ago. I quit using regular polish because my nails couldn’t even tolerate having the polish taken off with acetone. I find the correct way to remove the gel polish from my nails is to soak in water (either showering or doing dishes works too) and then peeling off the polish. After showering the other day my polish almost fell off. Everyone does not have problems with acetone but many do so while this method works for some, it does not work for everyone. Also, there was something on the Today Show this morning about how damaging removing gel with acetone is. But if it works for you, that is good.

  62. I can’t tell you how much help this has been for me. I live in Sydney, Australia, and I was going to a wedding New Zealand so I thought I would have a manicure before I left. The girl said the best one was a gel manicure because it would not chip before the wedding. She was right! Unfortunately, when I got home I thought I would just do the normal take off with polish remover, nothing happened, I could not get the stuff off, they never told me that I had to have it professionally removed. I am not one to be tight with money, but I thought to myself, why should I have to go back and pay again just to have the polish taken off? Anyway, I thought I would look up on Google to find another way of doing it, and guess what, your’s was the first one I noticed and I have just finished (I had to use cotton wool balls instead of gauze), and it works perfectly!!!! Thanks a million!!!!

  63. Thank you so much! This was my first experience with gel nail polish and taking it off was so easy using this method! I’m so glad I found your blog! Very much appreciated!!!

  64. My brother recommended I might like this blog.
    He was once totally right. This put up truly made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  65. It’s awesome to pay a quick visit this web site and reading the views of all colleagues on the topic of this piece of writing, while I am also eager of getting knowledge.

  66. A couple more tips for you out there looking to do this at home….
    1. Take a nail file and gently buff off the “shiny” top coat. It helps the acetone penetrate better
    2. Make sure you are using 100% acetone not acetone polish remover… it will take WAY longer
    3. Check after about 7 minutes, but depending on the brand your nail tech used, it may take longer to soak off. It should look like it is literally flaking off when you remove the foil
    4. if you are really having to scrape, you havent soaked long enough.
    5. THIS ONE IS A BIG TIP… either use warm hand mitts or a heating pad (or something that will give it heat) during this process to lay over your hands. You may need a helper or do one hand at a time. It helps to lift the product off much better/quicker with little to no scraping after!

  67. Thanks!!! I thought I needed a special remover other than acetone LOL!

  68. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.

    Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and
    checking back often!

  69. This is how I remove mine, however I put a heating pad on top of my nails for about 10 minutes after I’ve foiled the fingers. Then I use the SensatioNail gel remover (around $5 at Walgreens) and off it comes. I’ve never damaged the nails.

  70. I know this is an old post but I noticied that some folks were confused between a set of gel nails and gel poslish. These are two different things. A gel set is thick and much like the acrylics. A little bit thinner than acrylics and better if wanting pink and white. A gel polish is much more like a regular manicure and polish. This is not for super long nails because it is very thin like regular polish. It stays on longer and prevents tears more than regular polish though. On a gel set, if you go in every couple weeks they do a fill. With gel polish after 2-3 weeks you remove in the way of this blog. Important to keep the foil on long enough. You really don’t want to scrape as much as more wipe off. very little scraping. If you have to dig or pull then you were impatient and will damage your nails. If removing a gel set then it takes much longer and more scrapping/buffing. You are better off removing your set at a manicurist. There will be more damage to your nail when you remove a gel set and your own nail will need weeks to grow back out. With a gel polish I can remove and polish again , different color, or just have a simple manicure. my nails regenerate faster from the poolish. Since I wear my nails short and I prefer thin layer on my nails, i have switched to the gel polish but I am limited on colors . The color is in the product . It takes much less time also than a gel set the shop.

  71. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to
    me. Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  72. judy starr-lintner says:

    Help! the damage is done. I have had gels done for 4 months.Love the look and i get a good 21/2 to 3 weeks out of them. I outgrow them from the bottom. I have planted flowers,done heavy cleaning and only recall one tiny chip and a minor separation on french nail after several days. Whether the salonist does it (foil method) or I try at home with same method but a good 30 min each hand it is the same scraping. I use a product from Sally’s that says it is made for gel nails.Salon used “pure acetone”.Neither worked well.when I got one gel after another i didn’t notice how it affected my nils. i have naturaly pretty strong nails. nstead of sofening they seem brittle and entire nail bed is rough as sandpaper.I wonder if the basecoat was superglue! Or is the top layer of my nails just shredded beyond repair! I have slathered pure argon oil and also a very good all natural lotion several times and it has made no improvement. Any advice before I trim them short and put on a clear polish just to mask the texture. I’m going on vacation next week and was hoping to have beautiful nails. I’m wonderingif I should risk one more gel and try the soak plus heat . Speaking of heat I notice the first few repeats under the LED feel pretty hot and then fine.I figure it’s the sensitivity of the damaged nails.Any advice?

    • My best advice is to ask a nail technician. I’m not a nail tech or salon employee – just a mom and blogger sharing tips that have worked for me.

      Sounds like a break from gel polish might be a good idea to give your nails a break?

      Thanks, Jen

  73. I just tried this and it worked!!!!! thank you

  74. carol cecil says:

    that worked like magic

  75. Thank you!!! This trick worked like a charm!

  76. Worked like a charm. I used Bounty instead of gauze. 🙂

    • Cotton balls work the best…. strip the balls soak in acetone wrap in foil leave for about 10 mins ….. My gel manis lasts for about 3 weeks 🙂

  77. Sharon Baker says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I got a gel manicure when I went to my local salon for a pedicure and they were running a special on the gel manicure. Of course no one mentioned that you have to come back and pay to the have the gel polish removed or pay to have a new gel manicure. I REFUSE to pay to have it removed and won’t go back for another manicure, so I will be trying this tomorrow 🙂

  78. I guess there are different types/quality of gel nail polish. I had once the one poor quality what didn’t last more than two weeks and you could remove it as described above. Now I tried to remove the same way the one I have already one month and still look great, but I couldn’t!

  79. You have to “Break” the seal of the Gel by buffing BEFORE you soak your nails, then you’ll have no problems.

  80. Diana Brown says:

    Any enhancement you use on your nails, will weaken them. Pure acetone remover is very drying. When wearing Gel Polish on your nails and changing color ever two weeks your nails lose the top layer of nail and they will start to break at free edges and above the free edges. And you have to start repairing them. You also can get a reaction to Gel Nails just like Acrylics. Found with fiber glass and silk nails there is less problems. And the best manicure is natural nails. What ever you choose enjoy………….

  81. I have had my nails done by two nail beauticians, and even with acetone using this technique si
    Till do affair amount of scrapping. I bought mu own kit as I can’t afford to pay out to have them done every couple of weeks, doing them is easy, but I still couldn’t remove the old gel using this method. Should I leave them soaking for much longer than 10 minutes or is it possible to use ordinary nail varnish with a gel top coat. I love the fact that using this has stopped my nails splitting and actually growing for the first time. I hate thar they are so hard to remove, even with acetone. Has any one else found even the foil method doesn’t work. On the Internet there are pictures of gel nails easily peeling off, but doesn’t seem to work for me. Appreciate any help.

  82. I got my first gel manicure, then a couple days later. Dr. Oz, did a show on it and now I want the gel off. He talked about UV risk. The difficulty in removing the gel. I am happy I found ur blog. I understand this is ur personal opinion and not professional. So thank you. First and last time get the gel manicure. Last for 2 weeks, don’t like the difficulty in removing thanks

  83. Thank you for another great post. The place else may just anyone get that kind
    of information in such an ideal manner of writing?

    I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the look for such info.

  84. I love gel nails….so much so I ordered an at home kit……works great… my nail grows out I use regular nail polish to cover the “grow out”. Also I use white gel for a french manicure. Cover rest with regular nail polish.

  85. A mancurist told me the same method to remove gel polish. The one other thing she told me was to gently scuff the nail with a nail block first. Once I took off the tin foil the nail polish had pretty much lifted off, I just used an oranage stick to gently take off the rest. I then used a spa nail treatment to soak my nails so they didn’t dry out. After I used OPI’s nail envy as my nails tend to be a bit weak after gel polish. I only get gel polish for special occaisions, it does last me a good two plus weeks.

  86. I heard about this method in relation to removing glitter nail polish. This works well. I have been doing my own gel polish manicures for about 4 years now. I bought a Red Carpeet Manicure kit at Ulta. Recommended removal is as you described, but I buy the really large cotton squares and cut them up into pieces. No special pads or foil required. My natural nails do not appear to have suffered. As another poster mentioned, I sometimes remove the nails one day and do the new gel polish the next day.

  87. There are many nail polish brands that are really expensive and here are the complete list..

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