How to Remove Gel Nail Polish
Disclaimer: Not an expert just a nail polish aficionado and DIY lover. The contents of this article are strictly for informational purposes and not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Due to varying skin types and allergies, there is no one size fits all approach for how to remove gel nail polish. Some of the techniques listed below may produce adverse effects in certain skin types. Understand that attempting to remove your gel nail polish on your own will likely lead to adverse effects and doing so is at your own risk. Please consult a dermatologist, general physician, or nail technician before attempting any of the techniques listed in this article. If you are uncertain about which course of action to take, it is best to visit a nail technician. Though it may save you money to remove your gel nail polish at home, nail technicians are extensively trained professionals with a complex understanding of different nail products and their effects on the skin.
Many women know the satisfaction that comes from a fresh manicure; your nails are well-sculpted, neat, and perfectly polished in the shade of your choice. A good manicure can make you feel like a hand model. However, it is difficult to make that fresh, perfectly-polished look last for very long with traditional manicures. Daily activities such as typing, housework, and even washing your hands can cause your nail polish to chip and peel. In a matter of days, instead of looking like a hand model, you could end up looking like a woman who has never so much as seen a nail salon in their life.
Fortunately, the advent of gel nail polish has helped to curb some of the traditional downsides of getting a manicure. Gel nail polish, or shellac, produces an effect similar to the acrylic nails many women used in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Gel polish manicures or shellac manicures provide the same freshly polished look of a traditional manicure, but have a thick layer of protection that allows for nails to retain their look for up to three weeks. Gel nail polish prevents chipping, cracking, flaking, or peeling of the nail color, and also helps to protect actual nails against breakage.
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The downside of a material such as gel nail polish is that it can often work too well. While this special gel can protect nails from chipping or breaking, it can often be difficult to know how to take off gel nail polish without causing damage to the nail below. According to Dr. Susan Taylor, the buffing done to nails prior to applying the gel polish and soaking methods used to remove the polish may cause weakening of the natural nail below. However, the answer may lie in the type of gel nail polish you are using. Different brands use different methods for the preparation and application of their particular gel polish. Read on for the different methods used by common brands and to learn how to remove gel nail polish and how to remove gel nail polish at home.
OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel Nail Polishes:
OPI has always been an innovator in nail care and color. The brand was one of the first to develop gel nail polish that could be applied and removed by consumers themselves, without a visit to the nail salon. The line produces well over 150 different gel nail polish colors and the polish can be applied like traditional nail polish, then UV cured in order to create the gel polish effect. In order to remove the Axxium Gel Nail Polish, OPI recommends that users soak off the nail polish using nail polish remover, and assures that simply by soaking, users can remove all three layers of polish—including a base coat—within thirty minutes.
? Click Here for Removal Instructions for OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel Nail Polish!
CND Essential Solar Oil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner
Don’t underestimate the damage of nail polish removal! Treat your nails to a little bit of love with this conditioning oil treatment.
CND Shellac is a professional-grade gel nail polish system that can last up to fourteen days when applied properly. The system requires specialized base coats, colors, and top coats and must be cured using a UV light, also included in the system. Users do not have to soak their nails or chip away at the gel in order to remove the color, CND shellac also sells a specialized wrapping system that removes gel color and restores nails to their original state after. The followings instructions were provided by Shellac, but please contact them directly to verify the information yourselves to ensure that it is still up to date. I have posted it for discussion purposes only
? Click here for Removal Instructions for CND Shellac Nail Polish!
MAKARTT® 200Pcs/Box Gel Polish Removal Wraps
Get your gel nail polish off efficiently and effectively with these removal wraps! Comes with foil wraps and cotton pads.
Gelaze by China Glaze:
Frequent visitors to nail salons or nail technicians will easily recognize the China Glaze brand name. Already a ubiquitous brand in nail care circles, the company has now extended its reach to include gel nail polish. The Gelaze system by China Glaze is perhaps one of the more complex systems and should be performed by a professional nail technician with knowledge about gel nail polish and shellac. The process begins by having a nail technician perform a dry manicure, then filing the nail with a 240 grit file and rubbing the top of the nail with alcohol to remove any moisture. A nail technician will then apply Gelaze’s two in one gel and base polish to the nail and place the nail under an LED lamp for thirty seconds or under a UV light for two minutes. After being removed from the light curing system, a technician will wipe nails with a pre-soaked gel cleanser pad to remove any excess gel.
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Instructions for how to remove gel nail polish from Gelaze are almost as complex as instructions for applying the gel polish, and thus should be performed by a professional nail technician as well. First, the seal of the gel polish should be broken using a nail file. Next, the nail must be saturated with Gelaze gel polish remover, and wrapped in specialized Gelaze remover wraps which are wrapped securely around nails for up to ten minutes. After ten minutes have passed, the nail technician will then remove the wrap and scrape off any remaining polish or gel residue with an orangewood stick.
? Click here for removal instructions on Gelaze by China Glaze!
How to Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home
As listed above, there are various methods for applying and removing gel nail polish, and depending on the brand, these gel polishes can be applied and be removed either at home or with the help of a professional nail technician. While it is recommended that you consult a professional nail technician to remove your gel manicure at least for the first few times you need to remove the gel, it is not difficult to learn how to remove gel nail polish at home.
The first thing to keep in mind is to read the instructions provided. There are many brands that produce commercially available gel polish systems (such as those listed above). All of these brands, in addition to providing instructions on how to apply their gel polish, also provide instructions on how to remove gel nail polish at home. Following these instructions will likely give you success on the first try. However, if you are not having success removing the gel polish on your own, it is best to consult a nail technician who can perform the job for you if necessary. Trust us; paying the extra money and having a professional remove your gel manicure will be well worth the cost if it can save your nails from serious damage and breakage.
The next thing to keep in mind is that the internet offers a wealth of resources for those trying to learn how to take off gel nail polish on their own. Articles such as this one or blog posts from popular stylists also provide instructions on how to remove gel nail polish. Doing your research and following the techniques offered in these posts can help you to safely and completely remove your gel nail polish.
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In general, there are only three materials needed to remove your gel nail polish in the comfort of your home. These materials are: nail-wipes, nail polish remover (acetone-based nail polish remover works best; for instructions on how to remove gel nail polish without acetone, read on below), and foil.
Step 1: Soak cotton balls in acetone until they are completely moist.
Step 2: Apply an acetone-soaked cotton ball to the top of each nail.
Step 3: Wrap each nail that has an acetone-soaked cotton ball on top with aluminum foil (make sure that the aluminum is wrapped securely over each nail)
Step 4: Leave aluminum foil wraps on nails for ten minutes
Step 5: Remove the foil and cotton ball from nails
Step 6: At this point, the gel polish should be pliable enough that you can simply peel it off
Step 7: File nails to desires smoothness
Following these seven steps, you can safely remove your gel nail polish at home. However, we do recommend only doing this if you have worn and removed gel nail polish in the past. Additionally, if you are currently wearing a gel nail polish whose instructions state that you can remove the polish using only nail polish remover, do not use the foil wrapping technique as extended exposure to acetone can severely damage the natural nail.
The Wrap Method
Step 1: Use a 240 grit file to rub the surface of the nail
Step 2: Mix non-acetone nail polish remover with warm water in a bowl
Step 3: Use cotton balls, cotton pads, or gauze to soak up the diluted nail polish remover
Step 4: Apply the remover-soaked cotton balls, pads, or gauze to the surface of each nail
Step 5: Wrap each nail in foil
Step 6: Leave the foil for thirty minutes, repeatedly removing the foil and using a cuticle pusher to check that the product has been completely removed
Step 7: After thirty minutes have passed, remove the foil and use the cuticle pusher and file to remove any product that is still leftover
This method is very similar to the wrap method that requires acetone to remove gel nail polish, however with non-acetone nail polish remover the process takes up to three times longer. Another method that can be used to remove gel nail polish without acetone is the bowl method.
Lint-Free Nail Polish Remover Nail Wipes
Tired of having lint stuck to your nails? These lint-free nail wipes are a great alternative to cotton balls- soft, absorbent and perfect for nail polish removal!
Why You Should Aim to Remove Your Gel Nail Polish
Gel nail polish is ideal for most women because of its convenience and durability. However, continually applying and wearing gel nail polish can be potentially damaging to the nails and skin around the nails. Some dangers that can arise from continual gel polish include:
- Dry, brittle nails from continued application and removal of gel nail polish, particularly the prolonged exposure to acetone.
- It can become difficult to notice any infections or damage to the nail below the polish because the layer of gel polish is so thick.
- Application of gel polish requires prolonged exposure to a UV light, which can ultimately result in an increased cancer risk because of the damaging UV rays.
- Wearing your gel manicure for an extended period of time can cause your nails to chip and crack beneath the polish, making it difficult for nails to regrow.
- Extended exposure to acetone, nail polish remover, and other harsh chemicals in a nail salon or at home can potentially lead to health problems.
While avoiding gel nail polish altogether is the only way to avoid all of the dangers associated with the use of gel nail polish, there are various other precautions that can be taken to prevent some of the dangers of using gel nail polish.
- Take intermittent breaks between gel polish manicures and use only traditional nail polish or go polish-free for an au naturel look. This will allow your nails a chance to breathe and repair in between the harsh gel nail polish process.
- When applying a gel manicure in a nail salon or at home, use broad spectrum sunscreen on your hands in order to minimize the damage from the UV light.
- Be certain that neither your or your nail technician are removing or destroying your nail’s cuticle as this will increase the risk of infection and damage to the nail.
- After getting a gel nail polish manicure, moisturize your hands regularly using lotions and petroleum jelly. This will prevent the skin around the nail from drying out and causing further damage to the nails.
- If you have any allergy to acetone, it is best to avoid gel manicures altogether because they require the nails to be dipped into acetone in order for the gel manicure to be removed.
- When removing your gel nail polish, do not dip your whole hand or fingers into the acetone or nail polish remover; try to dip just the nails into the fluid.
- Do not use tools to try and chip away your polish, instead use nail polish remover, acetone, or have a professional remove your gel nail polish.
- If you are a frequent user of gel nail polish manicures, consider purchasing finger wraps in order to minimize damage to the skin around the nails.
- If you notice any brittleness, soreness, or signs of infection, have your gel manicure removed and visit your dermatologist who can advise you further on whether or not gel manicures are for you.
To learn more about the potential dangers of gel nail polish manicures and how to prevent them, click here.
Facts and Dangers of Acetone:
- Acetone is a naturally occurring chemical in the environment and can also be artificially created by industries. It can also be produced by the human body to breakdown fats and sugars for energy use.
- While acetone is a naturally occurring chemical in the air, it can be detected through scent once it reaches 100-140 parts per million in the air. It can be detected in the air at 20 parts per million.
- Because of small particles of acetone in the air, in plastics, in nail polish remover, in car exhaust and in other everyday objects, it is very likely that you are exposed to acetone on a daily basis. These small doses are rarely ever harmful and can easily be ingested or absorbed by the body.
- Acetone is already a naturally occurring chemical in the body and daily exposure to small amounts of acetone is rarely harmful. Acetone in the body is quickly absorbed by the bloodstream and transported to various organs throughout the body including the lungs and liver. The liver uses the acetone to break down fats and sugars for energy to be used by the body. Any acetone that is absorbed by the liver but unused will eventually leave the body in the form of urine. Within three days of exposure to acetone, all excess amounts of the chemical will leave the body naturally.
- Longer exposure to acetone will result in the body having greater difficulty releasing the chemical from the body.
- Exposure to acetone in levels between 250 and 500 parts per billion can result in adverse side effects such as nausea, dizziness, irritation of the eyes and nose, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness. In cases where subjects swallowed acetone (roughly 2,500 milligrams), subjects experienced unconsciousness, tissue damage to the mouth, and a limp—the patient recovered from all of these symptoms over time.
- There is limited information on whether or not extended exposure to acetone can result in skin cancer so it is best to exercise caution when using this potentially hazardous material.
As stated above, exposure to acetone, while not necessarily fatal, can be quite damaging to tissue in the body. It is best to exercise caution when using acetone. Below are some tips for minimizing acetone exposure when removing your gel nail polish:
- Do not use acetone to remove your gel nail polish if you have never used acetone before. Please visit a nail technician who can remove the gel nail polish for you and instruct you on how to use acetone in the future.
- If the gel nail polish you have used states that you can remove the gel nail polish using non-acetone nail polish remover, please use non-acetone nail polish remover before using acetone-based nail polish removers.
- Wear a face mask whenever using acetone-based nail polish removers to remove your gel nail polish.
- Rub Vaseline around the cuticles to create a buffer between the acetone and the skin.
- Never expose the nails, skin, or airways to acetone longer than necessary.