From the Beauty Closet

Removing a Gel Manicure

8 years ago by

I took off my own gel manicure…because I’m a boss.

Don’t worry, I haven’t been hiding some insanely amazing gel manicure from you, I got a basic red manicure while I was home (mother-daughter bonding session!) and it had hit the two week expiration date. I was very much capabable of walking myself into a nail salon to remove it, but I thought Hey, I can totally do this myself! And it was pretty easy! Here are my semi-pro tips for DIY gel mani removal:

1. I split up a cotton ball into 5 parts and soaked them in my drugstore brand polish remover (the label says “Nourishing Remover” but it includes acetone, so I think it cancels out…If you have a better way of taking off a gel please tell me! I know acetone isn’t ideal). I put a piece of the soaked cotton onto each nail. I had to do one hand at a time because…

2. I wasn’t ready for a full “Edward Scissorhands” look. You have to wrap each nail in tin foil and it’s really hard to do the other hand while you have pieces of foil sticking off the ends of your fingers. So one hand at a time, half an episode of New Girl per hand.

3. Remove the foil and cotton. Now comes the worst part, the scraping. I used an orange wood cuticle stick to scrape off the polish, starting at the cuticle. You might have to wrap a few nails again to help with any tough spots.

4. Repeat on other hand. Finish that episode of New Girl.

5. Now my nails needed some TLC. First up, a little buffing to smooth out any rough spots. Next, that cuticle oil I told you about before. I slathered it all over my nails and cuticles and let it sit for a bit. Okay, and maybe I started another episode of New Girl (just to be clear, I’m just watching for Nick).

And there you have it! My official semi-pro guide to removing your gel manicure at home. Have you removed your own? Any tips?


Add yours
  • Ahhh Nick! True Love! God I’m addicted to that show! How hilarious is Winston this season? (not relevant to your post AT ALL hahaha)

  • i have never tried fake nails and i’m not planning to. i don’t think they’re necessary…

  • karacocoa November, 15 2013, 12:42

    Winston’s a hot mess, lol. Winston and Schmidt are my favorites.

  • winston is the best!!! and his cat!!!

  • Je n’ai jamais essayé de manucure permanente … ça tient combien de temps?? Est-ce très mauvais pour les ongles? J’adore avoir les ongles nickels mais je ne suis pas prête à les détruire pour autant ;)
    Et quelle gamme de prix?

    Merci d’avance! ;)

  • Mais du coup, est-ce que les désavantages ne sont pas supérieurs aux avantages? Je me demande…

  • Qu’est ce que c’est une manucure semi-permanente ? Comment ça marche ?

  • If you “rough up” the nails beforehand with an emery board, and then apply the acetone, you don’t have to leave the acetone on for as long.

  • No, I have never tried to remove my own gel manicure… although that sounds fool-proof! I did write a fun post on Nail Polish remover and an interesting place to store nail polish. You should check it out –

  • Awww, Nick is awful!! I stopped watching New Girl after his character just devolved into a further lame loser guy :( I know he’s supposed to be endearing, but it’s just so hard for me to watch people doing dumb stuff all the time.

  • moi quand j’en ai eu en juillet j’ai TOUT essayé pour l’enlever seul, même acetone pur rien n’y a fait !! Alors j’ai laissé repoussé et mes ongles ont été immondes pendant 3 mois. je m’en sort enfin ! plus jamais ça !

  • Encore jamais testé … mais ca viendra !
    La parenthèse Enchanté

  • Hey girls, GEL IS PAST !!!!!
    I just both in Sephora. Gel Coat. ( Is amazing thinks. You doesn’t need professionals to do this for you and is easy for remove (like normal lacquer) . Top gel coat is recreate the look of a gel manicure. TRAY LOOK GOOD

  • Try to file the surface of your nails first next time, that ‘breaks the seal’ of the gel manicure. Then leave the cotton balls soaked in nail remover on your nails for at least 15 minutes in the aluminium foil, and then the gel should come off easily. If you scratch it off or even pull it off, you also remove the top layer of your nail and that leaves them all soft and brittle and sad.
    Also, perhaps check with your salon which brand of gel they use and just order yourself a bottle of branded nail remover: it really makes a difference, and is generally less harsh than using acetone.
    I treated myself to an LED lamp and a Gelish basic kit and I’m never going back. I use the Vitagel as a base, which is meant to nourish your nails, and give myself a gel mani once every two weeks. In the meantime, I just paint over the gel with normal nail polish (because I love all my colours too much) when I get fed up with the colour: as long as you use non-acetone nail polish remover the gel mani underneath stays fresh and untouched and because the surface is so smooth, your nail polish stays on longer and unchipped as well. Sometimes, I don’t even use a gel colour at all, but just a layer of Vitagel and two layers of gel topcoat (yeah, #yolo).
    I know it’s a bit sad to say this about a nail-related thing, but dude, it has changed my life.

  • Katherine November, 14 2013, 11:36

    Amen to that! You have to be very very careful or you’ll destroy your nails layer by layer.

    1) File the top coat down with a coarse file to cut through the top coat, which is the toughest part

    2) Pour a little nail polish remover in a small bowl and set that bowl into a larger one filled with just-boiled water to gentle “bain-marie” the polish remover

    3) Soak one hand in warm acetone for 10-20 seconds

    4) Wipe vigorously (NO SCRAPING!!) with old dishrag or some other piece of rough fabric. Can use cotton ball/pads, but it takes longer. You can also use a cheap emery board but be gentle!

    5) Repeat steps 3) + 4) until clean

    With the warm acetone and the scrubbed topcoat, the while process should take 15 minutes, of which only about 4 total involve your fingers in acetone.

  • Actually I removed the Gel manicure with nothing but HOT WATER! I was in the shower and just started picking on one nail and it just started to come off like a sticker! My nails were totally fine, with just a few slits, but alive otherwise! And to think that I was about to go the salon & pay 32 $ to remove it (I live in the Emirates, & that’s how much it costs here)!!! Hot shower ladies! :D

  • I’ve removed all of the gel on one or two occasions, but my nail tech yelled at me! However, sometimes toward the end of the 2 week window, one or two nails might chip or lift at the corner. When that happens…I peel the rest off…

  • Emily, that’s why I gave up on gel; I’m too much of a control freak not to not be able to take off my polish when I want to. Maybe now I can go back!?

  • Even though I did pay a visit to nail salon to get it removed, I still find it too time consuming and troublesome that I decide not to do the gel nails again (even though I do love sophisticated nails…sigh)

  • Lisa White November, 14 2013, 9:11 / Reply

    I just peeled mine off during a long soak in the bath.

  • My husband also watches that show for Nick…he thinks he’s a bit like him (he’s not, but a guy can dream, right?).

    I’ve never ventured into gel manicures, since there aren’t too many places around me that offer them yet. Thanks for the advice on removing them, though – I’ll keep that in mind if I ever decide to try it out!

  • unfortunately, only acetone-based nail polish remover will do the trick for removing gel manicure.
    but if you first soak the cotton ball in nail polish remover and then in rubbing alcohol, the time required for your fingertips to stay wrapped in foil will be much shorter!
    that’s how Russian manicurists remove gel manicure, 50% nail polish remover, 50% rubbing alcohol.

  • J’utilise la même technique mais avec le dissolvant spécial vernis semi-permanent d’O.P.I, le violet ! Pas besoin de gratter, si on laisse poser bien longtemps (15 bonnes minutes), le vernis se décolle tout seul !

  • Je le fais régulièrement et c’est assez simple à faire mais il faut du temps. Pour celles qui sont plus pressés prendre une lime blanche au grain 100 et 180 et puis poncer le vernis.

    Un vernis semi permanent tient généralement 15 jours en fonction de la qualité des produits utilises. Je trouve que ça abime moins les ongles que du gel et ça coûte environs 25 euros la pose.

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