This DIY Method Removes Gel Nails Without The Damage
Gel nails are all pretty and awesome till it comes to taking them off. Sometimes getting an appointment is a challenge. Or perhaps you don’t have the time–or money–to get them professionally taken off. Which is why you see so many of us walking around with overgrown, ragged gel nails #noshame.
So we did a little research and came up with a fool-proof DIY solution to the problem so you can remove your gel nails at home. All you need are a few tools and time (you can add wine to the equation and call it #metime).
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Images: CLEO, 123RF.com
Gather your tools
Turn on your favourite show, uncork that bottle of wine and make sure you have everything you need handy. You will need a nail file—one with a 100 coarse grit 180 smooth grit. Don’t be overwhelmed or confused with this piece of information, it just means that the higher the grit number the smoother the file. So you need a 100 coarse grit to sand down gel nails whereas natural nails need a file of between 240-600 coarse grit. We found these that fit the bill.
You will also need nail clippers, nail polish remover (with a high acetone content), cotton pads, some aluminium foil (yes, the kind you use in the kitchen), orange sticks, cuticle oil and vaseline handy. You will need to cut the foil and cotton pads into squares to fit around your nails.
File down the gel
Start by clipping the nails to desired length. Then, using the coarse side of the nail file, gently buff away the gel nail. The aim is to get rid of the glossy top layer. This allows you to break the topmost seal of the gel formula so the nail polish remover can be easily absorbed. Remember to be gentle so you don’t damage the surrounding cuticle. Once you’ve done all 10 tips, wash your hands to remove any dust.
Protect the cuticle
Slather on a thick cream like Vaseline or a rich cuticle oil like the NCLA So Rich Cuticle Oil, $27 to protect the skin around your nails before you lay on the cotton pads soaked in nail polish remover. This will keep them moisturised even though acetone in the nail polish remover can be drying on the skin and nails.
Let your nails soak
Next, soak the cotton balls or pads in nail polish remover. You want to stay away from moisturising nail polish remover formulas because this will mean you will need a longer time for the gel to break down and keeping it (and the acetone) on longer. Put the cotton on your nail and wrap the foil around it. It’s easier to do one hand at a time.
A general rule of thumb is to keep the cotton and foils on for 15 minutes. After that, you can open it and check how you’re coming along. The gel should look like it’s soft and falling off the nail. Once it’s soft, use an orange stick to remove it gently by pushing it off the nail using a little pressure. If you find yourself using too much force, soak the cotton again and wrap for a few more minutes.
If all this seems a bit too much for you, nail artist Ann Lim suggests using prepackaged gel nail remover wipes like the Miaoxi Nail Art Soak Off Removal Foil Wraps. According to her, prepackaged foil wraps have the correct solution for removal and a piece of cotton/material that holds the liquid and since they are individually sealed the formula stays potent. Bonus, all you have to do is stick your nail inside directly and wrap it around your nail since it is self adhesive.
Refresh and rehydrate
Once you’ve removed the gel nail polish, use the smoother side of the nail file to smooth away any bumps or unevenness. If you’re giving your nails a few days off to breathe, apply cuticle oil once again to the skin around your nails, and you can even soak your nails in coconut oil like the koqo All-In-One Handmade & Wet-milled 100% Virgin Coconut Oil, $78 (for 500ml) to prevent any dryness caused by acetone.