Gel manicures last for a long time and hold up really well. Unlike a classic, painted manicure, gel nails are resistant to chipping and most damage because the gel adheres to your nail. However, the strength of this semi-permanent gel means regular nail polish remover won't quite do the trick. If you want to spare yourself a trip to the nail salon, then you need to know how to remove gel polish easily at home.

Give yourself 30 minutes

First, you need to set aside at least half an hour to remove your gel polish properly. This process takes time considering how strong this polish is and how much it adheres to your nails. You're better off sitting in a well-ventilated area or opening up a window so that the intense smell of the acetone doesn't overwhelm you. If you're tempted to skip this process, just remember that taking a bit of time out of your day to remove this polish will save you money on professional removal services at nail salons.

gel manicure ilona titova / Getty Images


Start by filing the gel

A file can go a long way in loosening the old gel polish on your nails. File each nail lightly and slowly. You shouldn't expect the polish to come right off, but rather it should just take away the shine. Filing too far into the color could hurt your nails, so take it easy and just get the polish sanded down a bit. This will speed up the removal process and help you get the polish off eventually.

Removing Gel Nail Polish Easily at Home Evgen_Prozhyrko / Getty Images


Protect your skin and nails by using cuticle oil

It's also a good idea to use cuticle oil to keep your skin healthy and free of those painful hangnails. Just rub a dab of cuticle oil or cream above each fingernail. This is important ahead of acetone removal treatment because the strong chemical can dry out your skin, especially when it's left to soak for more than a few minutes. Plus, cuticle oil supports circulation around the fingertips, which encourages nail growth while also enhancing nail health and appearance.

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Soak cotton balls with acetone

Acetone is the key to removing polish. One option is to pour some in a small bowl with a dash of cuticle oil and then soak your nails in there. Otherwise, similar to what your nail artist would do, you need to use cotton balls saturated in acetone to get the polish off. Grab a handful and let them soak up the acetone before applying on top of your nails.

acetone for gel polish removal Animaflora / Getty Images


Wrap fingers in foil

If you choose the cotton ball method for soaking your nails in acetone, then aluminum foil will come in handy for keeping the cotton balls on your fingers. Grab a foil square and cover your nail and a freshly soaked cotton ball in the foil, wrapping it around tightly to keep it secure. Begin with your non-dominant hand to make it easier, and do your best to get all nails covered. If you have someone at home who can help you with this part, even better.

foil for nail polish Enes Evren / Getty Images


Leave nails covered for 10 minutes

Once you've successfully secured the foil and you have the acetone soaking on your nails, it's time to rest and relax for a while. You need to leave your nails covered for at least 10 minutes so that the acetone can work its magic and loosen up the stubborn gel polish. Take a peek and see what the polish looks like. If it seems like it's ready to slide right off, you've had them soaking for long enough.

remove gel nail polish familylifestyle / Getty Images


Remove remaining polish

If the polish is still sticking to the nail, keep soaking for a few minutes. You should be able to lift the polish off very easily without doing any damage to your nails. The acetone essentially lifts the polish off of the nail, so you don't have to do much to finish the job and say goodbye to your gel polish.

remove nail polish Kerkez / Getty Images


Use a nail stick

There may be small sections of polish that won't come off, and that's where a nail stick is handy. Gently work beneath the polish to separate it from the nail. If you're still having trouble, you can get someone to thread dental floss under the gel, pull the floss tight, then push the floss along the nail to remove the gel. When these tools don't work, it's a sign you need to keep soaking your nails for at least another five minutes.

nail stick Natalya Sambulova / Getty Images


Soak in coconut oil

Hydration is part of the recipe to success when it comes to healthy nails. Once you remove all polish, give your dry nails some much-needed moisture after all that acetone. Try soaking them in coconut oil for five minutes or a little longer before applying cuticle oil again. This is a great way to rejuvenate your nails, whether you plan on getting your nails done again soon or you're taking a break from manicures altogether.

coconut oil for nails kazmulka / Getty Images


Rehydrate with lotion

After successfully removing all traces of gel polish from your nails, treat them to a bit of healthy hydration with hand cream. Rub it in all over your nails, cuticles, fingers, and palms to give your hands a break and keep your nails strong and healthy for your next manicure. This is refreshing for your hands and nails and the perfect way to end a sweet and simple gel manicure removal process.

hand lotion RgStudio / Getty Images


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