How to Easily Remove Gel Nails at Home (Without Damaging Your Nails!)

how to remove gel nails at home

We’re all having to stay inside now, but what does this mean for your grown-out gel manicure?! If you want to find out how to easily remove your gel nails at home check out this post. It only takes 30 minutes or less!

First of all, if your nails are peeling, fight the temptation to peel or pick at your polish. Gel polish adheres extremely well to the nail, so if you are peeling it off, you are actually peeling off several layers of your nail.

You will need:

– Nail file
– Nail buffer or fine grain nail file (optional)
– Tin foil or soak-off clips (I bought these)
– Acetone
– Cotton wool
– Cuticle pusher or Orangewood stick (optional)
– Nail oil (optional)

How to remove the polish:

how to remove gel nails at home

1) Firstly, file your nails until the shine is removed. This allows the acetone to penetrate the polish better, making it easier for it to be removed.

IMG_20200325_122002 colourised

2) Heavily soak some cotton wool (either a cotton pad or cotton wool) with the acetone, then place it on your nails. It is important that you use acetone, but if you don’t have any, look for a nail polish remover with acetone. Normal nail polish remover will not remove gel polish.

IMG_20200325_121855__01-1 colourised

3) Wrap your nails in tin foil or use a soak-off clip on top of the cotton wool to make it stay in contact with the nail. This allows the acetone to work better! I recommend doing your thumbs separately (after you’re done with your other fingers), as it’s easier to work on your nails when they’re free. Plus, I use my thumb nails for the next step:

4) Once your nails have been soaking for 15 minutes, remove the foil and cotton wool, and scrape the dissolved gel residue off your nail. You can either use an Orangewood stick or cuticle pusher, or you can simply use your thumb nails to push the polish off your nails. I prefer using my thumb nails as I find they are less abrasive to my nail beds than a cuticle pusher, and I can manage pressure better to make sure I’m not scraping too hard.

5) If some of the nails still have gel residue, you can soak for a further 15 minutes, and then repeat the scraping. You might need to re-soak the cotton wool here.

6) If there is some stubborn residue left behind at the end, buff your nails lightly with your nail buffer.

7) Apply your favourite nail oil and massage into your nails and cuticles to pamper yourself.

how to remove gel nails at home

All done! As you can see, my nails look healthy and nourished after removal. If you remove your gels properly, your nails shouldn’t be damaged!

You can now repaint your nails with gel polish or regular polish if you wish. Check out my guide which walks you through painting your nails with gel polish.

What to do if you don’t have any of the necessary tools:

It isn’t easy to remove gel polish without acetone, but if you’re desperate to remove your gel manicure, here’s what you can do.

Using a highly abrasive nail file, buff the polish until it wears down. When there is only a thin layer left, use a lightly abrasive nail file to gently buff the remainder of the polish off.

Your nails could be damaged if you’re not careful here, so make sure you go slowly and follow up with some hand cream or nail & cuticle oil!


I hope you found this blog post useful! If you have any questions about painting your nails with gel or removing gel nail polish, please leave me a comment below!

Bye for now,


If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help me out by sharing with a friend!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: