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Learn How to Take Off Gel Nail Polish at Home

Save yourself a trip to the salon by safely removing your gel nail polish at home

When your gel nail manicure starts to chip, peel and look generally atrocious, it's time to learn how to remove gel nail polish at home. While it can feel absolutely imperative that you spend hours peeling off every last inch of that seemingly impenetrable polish, engaging in such an activity, satisfying though it may be, will make your nails weak and brittle. Here's how to remove gel nail polish the right way.
Learn how to remove gel polish at home
Learn how to remove gel polish at home
Thumb and Image via Getty

Buff
Whether you're trying to undo an LED or UV gel nail polish treatment, the removal process starts with a nice, easy buffing. Just grab a nail file and go over the surface of each nail. The goal is to wear the shiny surface off the top of each nail -- the top coat that makes gel polish so iron clad, but also so hard to remove.
Buff nails with a file to remove the gel top coat
Buff nails with a file to remove the gel top coat
Image via Getty

Protect
The next step in removing gel nail polish: protect your cuticles and hands. You're going to have to break out some tough chemicals to remove this long-lasting polish. Those chemicals can be harsh on your skin, so it's important to protect the surrounding area before you begin the removal process. Coat the skin around your nails with a layer of petroleum jelly or cuticle oil.
Protect cuticles with a cream or oil
Protect cuticles with a cream or oil
Image via Getty

Soak
Next, grab a bottle of professional-strength acetone polish remover, such as Sally Hansen Gel Nail Polish Acetone Remover, $4.99. Soak a cotton ball in the formula and set it on your nail.
Sally Hansen Gel Nail Polish Acetone Remover
Sally Hansen Gel Nail Polish Acetone Remover


Wrap
Take a small section of aluminum foil and wrap it around the cotton ball and your nail. Repeat this cotton-and-foil setup for each of your nails.
Wrap fingers in aluminum foil to let the remover work its magic
Wrap fingers in aluminum foil to let the remover work its magic
Image via Getty

Wait
How long do gel nails last? Quite a while (bless them). In the same way, removing them takes time. Sit back and relax while you wait for the acetone to do its work. It needs to stay on your nails for 10 to 15 minutes. Set a timer and leave the cotton balls in place until the timer dings.
Relax for 10-15 minutes
Relax for 10-15 minutes
Image via Getty

Remove
Now, it's time to remove the foil. The gel should flake off easily at this point. Press down on the cotton ball and slide it forward. This bit of pressure should be enough to slide most of the polish off the nail.
Remove gel polish with a cotton ball
Remove gel polish with a cotton ball
Image via Getty

Lift
Some gel polish might remain even after your work is done. Don't just pick at it -- that will likely result in some of your nail coming off with the polish. Instead, use an orange stick -- that pointed wooden stick manicurists use to shape cuticles -- to gently lift the remaining gel away from the nail.
Use an orange stick to remove any remaining gel polish
Use an orange stick to remove any remaining gel polish
Image via Getty

Moisturize
Now that you've learned how to remove gel nail polish without making a trip to the salon, there's one final step that you shouldn't overlook. Once all the polish has been removed, take the time to moisturize your bare nails. Even if you remove it correctly, gel polish can be drying and damaging to nails, especially if you never take a break between manicures. A layer of oil like Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil, $9, will help restore moisture to your nail bed, and keep your nails healthy and strong.
Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil
Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

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