Gel nails’ strength is also its weakness. You get fabulous-looking polish that lasts, but now you’ve got a coat that won’t budge. Maybe you had a gorgeous red creme for your New Year’s Eve party and you’re ready to move on. If you impatiently pick or try to sand it down, you run the risk of damaging your nail beds and thinning your nails. Don’t worry! There’s a safe way to remove your gel polish without much hassle. You just need a few supplies and a little bit of patience.
Next, use the nail buffing block to lightly sand down the top layer of polish on all your nails. Don’t press too hard or go too far down. You just want the top layer of gel to have a rough texture which helps with the acetone soak.
Then pull apart several cotton balls into halves so the cotton will fit better on your nail. Dip the cotton ball completely in the acetone. Make sure you are using pure acetone, even though you’ll be tempted to get a moisturizing version.
Place the soaked cotton ball on top of your nail. Cover it with a nail cap. Repeat with the rest of your nails. If you don’t have nail caps, you can wrap a piece of tin foil around the nail and fold the top down to secure it in place. This is a bit trickier than the nail caps and you’ll find it harder to do anything while you’re waiting, but works just as well.
Wait 15 minutes. Check one of your nails– if the majority of the polish isn’t easily wiped off, wrap it back up and then wait another 5 minutes.
Remove the caps and the cotton. Most of the polish should easily flake off. Use the wooden manicuring stick to gently scrape off the rest. Don’t apply too much pressure and just gently work at it, otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your nail. Practice your meditation during this tedious task.
Once the polish is completely gone, apply some cuticle oil to your nail beds and your skin nearest your nails. The acetone doesn’t damage the nail, but it does dry it out.
Now you’re ready to reapply or let your nails take a breather! Try to take a break for several days at least every 8 weeks.
Mariko is a high school English teacher who has three children, illegible handwriting and an obsession with mail-order artisan ice cream. She lives in Hawaii, but she makes a point to eat her way through big cities as often as she can.