Home Nail Care Removing gel nails: How to do it yourself

Removing gel nails: How to do it yourself

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 289 views

Tired of artificial fingernails? Remove gel nails – this can also be done easily from home. We will introduce you to the different methods with and without acetone. Also, learn the best tips for nail care after removal.

Remove gel nails with acetone

Nail modeling made of gel is popular: long and robust fingernails as well as unusual designs are possible with it. In addition, the manicure can withstand some hardships in everyday life. But at some point every modeling grows out and unsightly transitions become visible. Then there are two options: either you take care of new extensions or the artificial nails have to go.

If you have decided to remove your gel nails, this is possible in a professional nail studio. If you dare and have some time and patience, you can remove the gel nails yourself.

The miracle cure for removing gel nails: acetone. The easiest way to get rid of artificial nails is with the solvent. There are different ways to do this.

Note that acetone – like other solvents – removes grease from the nail and dries out the surrounding skin. This makes cuticles and nails more susceptible to inflammation. In large quantities and when used frequently, acetone is also harmful to health: It evaporates very quickly and is more likely to get into the respiratory tract than other solvents.


An acetone bath is the fastest and most effective way to quickly remove artificial fingernails.

For removal with an acetone bath you need the following tools:

  • two bowls, one larger and one smaller
  • coarse sandpaper file
  • Remover with acetone
  • Wooden cuticle pusher (rosewood stick)
  • Bufferblock

Fill the larger bowl with warm water and put the remover in the smaller one. There should be enough remover in the bowl to completely cover your fingernails when you dip your fingertips. Place the small bowl in the large one to heat. No water should overflow into the small bowl. Caution: Never heat the remover on the stovetop, microwave oven or in a fire. Acetone is highly flammable!

In order to sand off the top coat, you must first trim the nails. Then wash your hands to remove the dust.

Then soak your fingertips in the remover for 10 to 15 minutes. When the corners start to loosen, take your fingers out and gently push the polish off with the cuticle pusher.

slide method

With the foil method, the fingers are wrapped with a soaked cotton pad and wrapped in foil. You will need the following items for this:

  • Remover with acetone
  • ten strips of aluminum foil, about four inches long and four inches wide
  • Wattepads
  • rough sand file
  • Wooden cuticle pusher (rosewood stick)
  • Buffer block, with fine and sandy grit: This is a sanding block that removes grooves and other imperfections on the nail. Depending on the grit, it is also suitable for filing. You can get this in the drugstore.
  • nail oil
  • possibly clippers

How to remove gel nails with the foil method: First, shorten the nails with a nail file or clippers. Then use the coarser grit of the buffer block or the sand file to gently sand down the upper protective layer of the artificial nail, the top coat. Be careful with this: if you file off too much, you will damage your natural nail and the nail bed. Then wash your hands to remove the dust.

To protect your cuticles from the chemicals in the remover, apply some oil to the cuticles.

Now it’s time to actually remove the nails: Put some remover on a cotton pad. Place this on the nail and wrap a strip of aluminum foil around your finger. The more airtight you wrap the nail, the better the solvent will work. After about ten minutes of soaking, remove the aluminum foil and cotton ball. The gel has now separated from the nail.

Use the slanted side of the rosewood stick to gently push the loosened gel off the nail. It is better to avoid using metal tools here: This causes unsightly scratches on the nails.

If you encounter too much resistance, the nail needs a little more acetone. In this case, repeat the soaking with a cotton pad and aluminum foil.

In the last step, use the fine side of the buffer to even out minor imperfections and to smooth the fingernails.

Special nail polish remover devices

A very gentle way to get rid of the fake nails with acetone: a so-called nail polish remover device at home. These devices convert nail polish remover into vapor. During use, fingers do not come into direct contact with acetone. The method is said to be gentler on nails and skin.

Remove gel nails without acetone

If you don’t want to use chemicals when removing the artificial fingernails, you can let the nails grow out or file them off. We have summarized the best way to do this.

nail cutter and nail file

If you want to get rid of your fake nails with a nail cutter or nail file, the safest way is to go to a professional salon. However, if you want to try it yourself, be extra careful.

For this method you need a coarse sand file and a buffer block. Experienced people use an electric nail cutter. You can get this in electronics stores.

First trim the nails. This will reduce the area you need to file down. Use the file or the electric milling cutter for this.

Now file the surface of the nails with the coarse sand file. Do this carefully and patiently. Don’t file too fast and don’t file the same spot for too long, otherwise the nail will get hot.

Be careful not to file your natural nail. Otherwise it becomes more susceptible to inflammation. Also use the cutter for this step, be particularly careful: the device can heat up the nail quickly, and you can also damage the natural nail more easily.

After removing all of the gel, wash your hands to remove dust. Level out any unevenness with the fine side of a buffer block.

Let gel nails grow out

If you want to wear your nails as little as possible and are particularly patient, you can let the gel nails grow out. Make absolutely sure that the artificial layer has no cracks or air bubbles. Such damage promotes bacterial and fungal infections and impairs the health of the nail.

In addition, you should regularly and carefully trim the nails with a file as they grow out. In order to conceal the ever-growing gap between the gel layer and the natural nail, apply a colored nail polish during this time.Remove gel nails: household remedies without acetone and chemicals.

Would you prefer to use gentle, natural methods to remove gel nails at home? There are solutions for this too. These are not as effective as the variants already mentioned, but protect the natural nail.

Remove gel nails: home remedies without acetone and chemicals

Would you prefer to use gentle, natural methods to remove gel nails at home? There are solutions for this too. These are not as effective as the variants already mentioned, but protect the natural nail.

Remove gel nails with vinegar and lemon

One way to remove gel nails at home with home remedies is to use vinegar and lemon juice. For this you need:

  • 2 bowls of warm water
  • household vinegar
  • Juice of half a squeezed lemon
  • Wattebausch
  • rosewood sticks

Beforehand, bathe your hands in the bowls with warm water for about 15 minutes to soften the varnish. Then mix some vinegar with lemon juice, mix enough solution to work on all ten fingers.

Soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and lemon mixture and press it onto a single nail for about a minute. You should now be able to take the gel nails off. Use a rosewood stick if necessary.

Remove gel nails with sugar: is that possible?

A home remedy for removing gel polish that is much discussed online is the use of sugar. To do this, a bowl of sugar is heated in the microwave until it liquefies. When the liquid sugar has cooled, hold your fingertips in. However, the procedure does not remove the gel from the nails. There is also a high risk of severe burns. So keep your hands off it.

Remove gel nails: care after removal

Whether you prefer to remove your gel nails without filing or let them grow out, you should take proper care of your nails and cuticles afterwards. Also, give them regular breaks and don’t paint them for a few days.

Protect nails from tearing

The gel layer puts particular strain on the natural nail: it becomes soft and brittle. So that the nails do not tear again and again, note the following:

  • Keep your nails as short as possible in the first few weeks and choose a more oval or round nail shape.
  • File the stressed natural nail with a high-quality glass file. It is gentler than a coarse emery board. Avoid cutting, clipping, or tearing your fingernails.
  • Special care varnishes supply the nail with minerals and give it more strength with a protective film.

nail oil

Gently massage in some nail oil after removal and with every manicure. This keeps nails and cuticles supple and healthy – reducing inflammation. No nail oil on hand? Alternatively, use almond or olive oil.

Castor oil plays a special role in nail care: It is rich in vitamin E and thus strengthens the nails. However, pregnant women should consult their gynecologist before use.

Read more about nail oil here .

Maintain cuticles

The cuticle at the root of the nail has an important protective function: it makes it difficult for bacteria or fungal spores to penetrate the skin. At the same time, she is also very sensitive.

Always gently push back the cuticles when manicuring. When cutting or tearing, there is a risk of small injuries and these becoming the entry point for pathogens.

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