At-home gel polish removal

I’ve never attempted get polish removal by myself before – I’ve always gone back to the salon where I had the gel polish applied and paid the $10 to have someone else to soak off them for me.  I was curious in trying to remove them myself and found this wikihow article – it doesn’t seem that difficult!

First, this is what my gel nails look like exactly 2 weeks after I had them applied:
Not bad huh! I only had a tiny little chip on the tip of my right thumb where I caught it on a zipper accidentally.  I do have quite a bit of nail growth though. The method I’m showing you will also work for stubborn glitter nail polishes too!

Now, onto the removal – according to the instructions, essentially there are 2 methods:
1. soak off – place finger tips into a bowl of pure acetone and wait for the gel polish to melt off
2. foil – encase finger tips with acetone soaked cotton balls wrapped in foil and wait for the gel polish to melt off

I chose option 2 since that’s how I’ve removed glitter polish before.  I prepped my materials:
The craptastic Quo Luxury cotton cut into halves and aluminum foil cut into approximately 4×4″ squares.
Acetone-based nail polish remover – this one is from Sally Beauty Supply and it’s what I use to remove all my nail polishes.  It is probably more effective to use 100% acetone but I don’t have any on hand.  Not shown: a wooden cuticle pusher stick.

I wrapped each finger starting from the pinkie – first drenching each cotton pad with the acetone remover, then enclosing each finger nail with foil to hold the cotton in place:
* Sorry, I had to change the saturation on these pictures so the details would show up better, so my hand appears quite tanned and polish colour is off.

Note that I only worked on one hand at the time because a) it would have been impossible to wrap the 2nd hand with the foil tip in place on my other hand b) I needed a free hand so I could still take photos for this entry 😉
I waited for 15 minutes – the instructions said 10 minutes but I waited the extra 5 just to be safe.  I peeled back just the pinkie to see the progress:
The polish was bubbling.  I was ready to scrape using a wooden cuticle stick.
I found that it wasn’t scraping off as cleanly as it should be so I googled for tips on gel polish removal, and I noted that some people say to buff the gel polish before soaking them in acetone.  This is supposed to break down the top coat and make it easier for the acetone to penetrate.  So I decided to try that on my other hand:
I used a fine grit buffing block (yes, my cuticles are really dry)

And repeated the same process of wrapping each finger in foil and acetone soaked cotton – it worked better! The polish scraped off much easier.  Voila:
Total time: 40 minutes

• Buff the gel polish first before wrapping
• Do one hand at a time to save yourself the nightmare of trying to wrap the 2nd hand with foil tipped fingers (or ask a friend who can help)
• Put on a tv show while you’re waiting for the polish to soak off
• Place a paper towel or piece of foil on the surface where you’ll be working to catch all of the gel polish shavings when scraping
• apply cuticle oil after removing the gel polish to help hydrate the nails – acetone is very drying

Have you ever use this foil method to remove polish? Any tips to share?

18 thoughts on “At-home gel polish removal

  1. Whoa this is some hardcore stuff. I have used this method to remove glitter nail polish as you mentioned but I never had a gel mani to worry about. Good to know that buffing first works better. The first time looked like a lot of work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah there’s definitely a learning curve. With the glitter polishes, the nail polish just melts right off but the gel requires actual scraping which is time consuming. I had the movie Lone Ranger on while I was doing this – bad choice! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never tried gel nail polish but I would like to sometime since it lasts longer. I would just have to pay for someone to remove it for me though lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When I used to put Gel polish on my natural finger nails, this is exactly how they took it off in the salon. Now I have acrylic nails and they just file it off. While I was getting my pedicure, they would wrap my hands with the foil. It would drive me crazy because I couldn’t use my phone since they wrapped both hands. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am torn if I’d remove it again myself, because if I did it at the salon, it’d feel weird not to have them do my manicure right after. I like doing my own manicures at home unless it’s gel.


  3. I hate the feeling of the scraping part… even when they do it in-salon. Just makes me want to jump out of my skin & punch someone. :::willies:::


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