How to Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home Safely — Expert Advice

Sometimes gels are referred to as “shellac,” but the two aren’t necessarily interchangeable. Shellac is a trademark of CND, the creators of gel technology. Think of it a bit like “jacuzzi” and “hot tub,” the former referring to a trademark brand name and the latter to a type of product.

Benefits of a Gel Polish Manicure

There are many benefits of gel polish manicures, so many in fact, that it’s changed the modern-day manicure. The first and most obvious is that they undoubtedly last much longer than a regular nail polish manicure. 

 “It stays looking fresh and maintains a beautiful, glossy shine during wear. There’s no dullness over time or scratches to the surface and — if well maintained and aftercare is followed — will have no chips until the next manicure,” explains Francis. “Having a gel manicure can also help protect your natural nails by providing a stronger coating (compared to nail polish) and this can help your natural nails to grow (by protecting them), especially if keeping up with regular appointments,” she adds. 

Humphrey echoes this, “They help to grow out natural nails and can help nail biters break the habit.” Since gels use a lamp to “cure” versus drying in the air, they’re great if you’re totally impatient when it comes to waiting for your nails to dry after you’ve left the salon.

How to Remove a Gel Nail Polish?

First, Humphrey says to gather all of your tools, you’ll need: a file, buffer, acetone, or gel remover, cotton, aluminum foil squares, cuticle oil, and an orange wood stick or cuticle pusher.

Harmony Gelish 180/180 Grit Nail File

CND Solar Oil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner

OPI Nail Polish and Lacquer Remover

Step 1: Protect your surfaces

OK, before diving into any actual removal Humphrey warns to protect your surfaces. “Gel remover will strip varnish or coatings off surfaces so be wary of this.” You might want to use an old mat with a towel and some paper towel on top. That way you know that even if you spill and make a mess, your beloved coffee or dining table won’t be ruined forever.

Step 2: Buff

This first stage is crucial to efficient removal. Grab your nail file — Humphrey recommends a 180 grit to get the job done — and begin filing off the top coat of your gels, making sure to remove all of the shine. This breaks the gel seal so that the acetone can get to work breaking down the cured paint. “If you skip this stage you’ll find removal a nightmare, if not impossible,” says Humphrey. “Some gel polish top coats are so hardwearing, if you don’t buff or file it beforehand, it won’t budge,” Francis adds. 

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