How To Remove Gel Nail Polish At Home Without Scuffing Nails

How to remove gel nail polish without absolutely butchering your nails? That is (very much) the question. Sadly, we all know by now that our beloved gel polish comes with one seriously awkward catch: in creating a formula so bulletproof it can withstand weeks without chipping, it’s equally stubborn when we actually want to get it off.

We also know that removing gels incorrectly can damage and weaken nails, causing them to snap and break more easily, so it pays in the long-term to spend that extra time on loosening the polish away gently. Whether your pro mani is coming to the end, or the gel nail shade you applied yourself at home is due a refresh, we asked award-winning nail artist and Naio Nail ambassador, Kirsty Meakin for her advice on how to remove gel nail polish properly. Her number one piece of advise? Don’t pick or peel. Instead, to keep your natural nails nice and strong, Kirsty shares her pro advice below…

Step one: Gently buff the top of your gels

“Start off by buffing the nail,” says Kirsty. When we say gently, we mean very gently, and be careful not to scratch the cuticles and surrounding skin. Always use a buffer with a low ‘grit’, which measures how abrasive the buffer is (go for around the 100 to 300 mark). This breaks the uppermost seal of the gel formula, to allow for the nail polish remover to penetrate more effectively. “You’re not buffing to remove the gel, but to create a rough surface,” explains Kirsty.

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Step 2: Wrap your nails

Before you get going, it’s a good idea to apply a generous layer of Vaseline to the cuticle area and skin around the nails to protect it from the drying effect of the remover. You’ll need to buy nail polish remover with acetone in it, otherwise it won’t be able to break down the gel formula. Cut your cotton pads into 10 small squares (one for each nail) and then cut ten strips of tin foil. Soak each cotton pad in the acetone and place on top of your buffed nail. Wrap the strip of tin foil on top and twist to secure. Repeat for all ten nails and leave for 10 – 15 minutes.

If you find this a bit of a faff, then you can buy special clips, which do the same job as the tin foil, stay in place properly and can be reused again and again (we tried these, and were seriously impressed). Or, try these clever remover clips from KISS which have touchscreen compatible tips so you can continue to scroll your phone while you soak. Genius.