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Removing Gel Polish at Home (Without Just Picking It Off)

BY: FAVIN THE MAVEN | 2.14.2014 |
Removing Gel Polish at Home (Without Just Picking It Off)

I have been a die-hard fan of gel polish for more than two years now. As soon as I tried the no-chip lifestyle, I was done with traditional manicures. Between trying to fish my credit card out of my wallet with wet nails (which should honestly be an Olympic event—it takes strength and courage) to chipping on day two, I’d had enough.

There’s one thing I still find a little annoying about gels, though: you’re supposed to go back to the salon to get them removed. It’s inconvenient and it often costs extra, so I never actually do it, and you know what that means.

I’m a picker. I pick at my gels as soon as the edges start to split or peel. It’s terrible for my nails (it strips away a layer of your natural nailbed), but it’s also secretly really fun. Sometimes the whole gel comes off in one piece like a sticker!

I recently found out that you can basically recreate the salon removal process at home, though, without any unnecessary nail trauma. Here’s how.

The Tools

  • Acetone nail-polish remover
  • Five cotton balls, each ripped in half to make 10 cotton tufts
  • 10 foil squares, about 1.5 inches wide
  • A nail file
  • An orange stick
  • A buffer

The Process

1. File the top layer of shine off the surface of each nail. This breaks the seal on the polish and let the acetone do its work. You’ll know you’re done when the surface of each of your gels looks flaky, whitish, and dull all over.

2. Soak a cotton tuft in nail-polish remover, then lay it on a nail, covering the whole thing.

3. Bind the cotton ball to your fingertip with a foil square, so that it looks like a shiny finger puppet.

4. Repeat the last two steps with all your fingers. You might need a friend to help with your right hand.

5. Let your nails soak for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil. If you can, remove it so it stays in its cupped shape, with the cotton inside. (That makes it easier if you need to soak a little longer.)

6. Start scraping the polish off your finger with your orange stick. It should come off easily. If patches are really sticking tenaciously, soak for five more minutes and try again.

7. Finally, buff your nails to smooth out any roughness, and wash your hands to get rid of any leftover acetone smell. If you want, you can also paint on a clear coat of nail strengthener.

And that’s it! You’re polish-free for free!

Photo by Michelle Klosinski and Rachel McCann, Groupon

Favin the Maven
BY: Favin the Maven Favin the Maven