How to take off gel nails

Updated July 20, 2017

Gel nails have become a popular choice in nail salons for women wanting artificial nails with a natural look. If your nails are growing out, or your gels have chipped and you plan on reapplying a new set, you should go to your manicurist to get them redone. However, if you would rather just go back to your natural nail, it is easy to remove the gels in the comfort of your own home.

Heat a bowl by pouring hot water into it or by using a microwave to heat the water for 60 seconds. Pour the water out once the bowl is warm if you use that method. The size of the bowl is not very important, but you need to be able to fit your fingertips into it.

Add acetone-based nail polish remover to the bowl. You only need enough to completely cover your nails when you dip your fingertips in. You may use a mix of pure acetone and nail polish remover if you prefer.

Soak the nails of one hand in the nail polish remover for five to 10 minutes.

Pull the gel nails off of each finger gently using the dry hand. You can use a pointed nail file to pry them off, but be gentle. If they are hard to pull off, soak the nails for another five minutes and try again.

Repeat steps three and four with the other hand.

Wipe the remaining gunk off your nail using a cotton ball dipped in nail polish remover.


If your nails are a little rough after removing the gels, buff and file them smooth. You can also paint them with a strengthening polish to help them recover.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Acetone-based nail polish remover
  • Pointed nail file
  • Cotton balls
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About the Author

Sandra Penn has been a freelance writer since 2006. After earning a B.A. in cinema and television from the University of Southern California, Penn went on to work as an executive in Hollywood.