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9/12/11 Removing Gel Nail Polish with Minimal Damage to Natural Nails

Posted on September 12, 2011 at 1:20 PM

I have been seeing alot of questions about removing Gel Nail Polish lately. It seems that Gel Nail polish, or "Forever Polish" as many salons like to call it, is becoming more and more popular.

I'm not a big fan of Gel Polish, not because of the product itself (which I actually think is pretty cool), but because I believe it is misleading to clients. They call it "polish" when it is really an "enhancement". Gel Polish or "Forever Polish" is nothing but a thin layer of colored gel. The same gel they use for nail enhancements. Gel is a pre-mixed acrylic which goes on goey, and needs to be cured by a UV light. It cures to shiny hard glossy surface, which looks just like a perfectly polished manicure. Honestly, for a client to wants polish that lasts, and doesn't mind wearing an enhancement, it is a perfect fit. However, many manicure clients pride themselves in being enhancement free and do not want to wear acrylic, wraps, gels or any other type of enhancemnts. These people pay for weekly or bi-weekly manicures and really care about the health and beauty of their nails. If you are one of these people, I suggest skipping the gel polish...

Now that we're clear about what Gel polish is, lets talk about removing it. If you've ever had a Gel Polish applied,  then you know that it is not easily removed. At least not with nail polish remover... You must use pure Acetone to remove Gel Polish, and even that doesn't make the process simple. At the salon, they will charge extra to remove the Gel Polish, and they'll probably damage your nails in the process, as many places will just use an electric file to remove it, as it's fast and easy. If you've got Gel Polish that needs to come off, I suggest you follow these steps to save not only money, but also to salvage your nails:

What you'll need:

- about 45 minutes

- Pure Acetone (salon grade can be purchased at Sally's or another beauty supply store, but I suggest getting it from the hardware store. It is much faster acting)

- 10 Cotton Balls

- 10 small strips of aluminum foil

- a cuticle pusher

- a coarse grit nail file (180 or lower grit)

- a fine grit nail file or block buffer (180 or higher grit)

- cuticle oil

How to do it:

1. File the surface of your polished nail with the coarse grit file. This will "Scuff it up"

2. Soakall 10 cotton balls in Acetone

3. Place the Acetone soaked cotton balls on your nails and wrap each nail with aluminun foil (the aluminum foil traps your body heat in, which will act as a catalyst for the Acetone)

4. Let this sit on your anils for at least 15 minutes. The acetone will not dissolve the gel (as it does with acrylic or regular nail polish), but it will soften the product and weaken it's bond to your nail.

5 Remove the foil and cotton balls and use the cuticle pusher to gently scrape over your each of your nails. This will remove any product that was loosed by the acetone.

6. Anything that is left will have to be filed off. Use your fine grit file or block buffer to remove the remaining product.

7. Apply Cuticle oil to entire nail bed and skin around the nail. Allow this to soak in for a few hours before re-polishing.

I hope this helps! Send your beauty questions to [email protected] and I'll answer them in my next blog.



Categories: Hand, Foot, and Nail Care

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Reply Suzie
4:37 PM on March 29, 2012 
Nail gel
Reply Terry
11:00 PM on April 9, 2012 
This is a great article and on the money when it comes to gel manicures. I used this method with one variation: I soaked my nails in two small bowls of pure acetone nail polish remover for 15 minutes. That softened the polish up enough to push/scrape off the gel coat with an orange stick. Not in a rush to get another gel mani-CURE. Thanks for the informative advice!!!
Reply Nail Wraps
11:29 AM on April 17, 2013 
Hi Bethany, thanks for these great tips. I too had the same problem of getting nail gels off. Now I use custom nail wraps. It's so easy to use and never had to waste time removing polishes.
Reply Deb Geller
11:31 AM on April 17, 2013 
Hi Beth, thanks for this very informative post. I too would say, stop wasting money and time on nail gels and use nail wraps instead. Fast, easy and really cheap.
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I had my fingernails done with gel nail polish a year ago and after using pure acetone to remove it I have never been able to grow my nails again, they only just start to grow and immediately split, I have tried nail hardener, conditioners and all sorts of things but still cannot grow my nails. I never had any trouble before until now.
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