#beautyathome: How to safely remove your gel polish or extensions at home (without wrecking your nails) 3 months ago

#beautyathome: How to safely remove your gel polish or extensions at home (without wrecking your nails)

Because, lets face it, we're definitely going to need to know this sooner rather than later.

With the current restrictions in place, we're all going to be spending a lot more time indoors in the coming weeks.

And if you've gone into this period with a full set of extensions or gel polish on, it may have crossed your mind about what to do when the time comes to take them off.

Since we can't be popping into our usual salon, Her spoke to Rebecca McParland at Vanity Throne Nails to find out everything you need to know to look after your nails at this time: from how to keep them healthy to how to safely remove your gel polish and extensions (without wrecking your nails).

"The best way to get your nails super strong and healthy is keeping them hydrated with cuticle oil. Cuticle oil will help to thicken and strengthen the nail as well as moisturising the cuticles and surrounding skin, reducing hangnails (torn skin)," she explained, adding that you should apply the oil two to three times a day.


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"Be patient though, as you are treating the new nail that will grow, and not what you can already see. It can take up to 3 months to notice a difference in your nails if your nails are badly weak/damaged."

If your nails are weak, she advises using a nail strengthener, which "act more like a structure for your nails, keeping them that little bit stronger and protecting them against flaking."

"If you have extensions or gel polish on please don't panic and stress bite/ pull your extensions or gel polish off. Just remember that salons will be open again as soon as it is safe to do so and we will all be happy to see you back again and resume all treatments for you," she advised.

"I would normally not recommend home removal of extensions/gel polish, however leaving your old nail enhancements on over 3 weeks will also damage the natural nail so it will be best to remove them the safest way possible under the circumstances."


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If you don't have any cuticle oil on hand, though, there are some other things that you can use.

"If you don't have any cuticle oil at home you can also use any coconut oil or almond oil. Coconut oil can be easy to find as most grocery shops stock it for cooking and its very reasonably priced, so next time you're doing your essential lock down shop you can pick it up then," Rebecca said.

"Have a look at any hand creams or lotions you have in the house too. If it says there's any type of oil in the ingredients they will also work and you'll be doing two treatments for one."

As for when it may be time to take off your gel polish or extensions, it's typically two to three weeks - and while she notes that some manicures may last longer, the recommended time is to avoid going into the period where your enhancement starts to lift.

"When lifting occurs a fine layer of the nail is being peeled off with the enhancement. Over time this will really damage the natural nail leaving them brittle and weak so you really want to get them off/re-done before this happens in order to protect them," she said. "Once they start to lift its already too late and there will be some damage to the natural nail."

The essentials for doing a gel polish (or acrylic extensions/overlay) removal are :

  • Acetone
  • 100 or 180 grit file
  • Cuticle pusher or cuticle (orange wood) stick

But it will also help to have some foil, cotton pads, a buffer block and cuticle oil to really maintain the health and condition of your nails.

The essential for removing gel extensions (non soak-able)

  • 100 or 180 grit file

"Removing gel polish/ extensions from home can be very time consuming, Rebecca notes, adding that it's important to be patient with the process, as that's the key to remove them safely and to keep them healthy.


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"If you have nail polish remover in the house you will be able to use this for a soak off as long as it does not say 'non acetone' or 'acetone free'. However in order to safely remove the product you will definitely need to get acetone (unless you have gel extensions that will need filed off) and a 100 or 180 grit file," she continued.

"To save going out unnecessarily during this time I'd suggest buying anything you need online. The Manicure Company and Peacci (The Gel Bottle) are both brands I use in the salon that have great home removal kits to buy online or you can purchase items individually."


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And now, for the big question, what's the best way to remove gel polish or extensions at home?

Remember to be patient during the process as it will take you longer than a professional, especially if you're doing it on yourself.

  1. Using your 100 or 180 grit file, file the top layer of the gel. (be careful not to zig-zag your file, don't concentrate on one area but keep your file moving around the nail to avoid friction burns/ over-filing. Do not file through to the natural nail).
  2. Pour some hot (but not boiling water) into a bowl. Get a second bowl and place it on top of the warm water and pour in your acetone. (The warm water from the bowl underneath will heat the acetone up to speed up the process). Place one hand into the acetone and leave to soak for 10-20 minutes (until you see the gel start to crackle and curl up).
  3. Using your cuticle pushers/ cuticle stick gently scrape away the gel. (Be patient and don't try to force the gel off it isn't budging. Just re-soak the nails again).
  4. Use your buffer to remove any staining of the gel polish on the natural nail.
  5. Apply a nail strengthener (if wanted) and some cuticle oil to rehydrate the nail.

If you have acrylic extensions/ overlays on you can also use the same soak off method to remove them safely, however you will have to file more and re-soak as many times necessary.

Gel extensions/overlays can not be soaked off and therefor will have to be filed off. Start by clipping the extension down to shorten the work load and file the gel down. Don't zig-zag the file to avoid friction burns and don't over file on the same spot.

Slow your file moments down when you get close to the natural nail to avoid filing it. Try to leave a very thin layer of gel on the natural nail as it will lift over the next few days with natural oils. (If you're untrained with a file this precaution will save you from over filing).

You can watch her video tutorial on how to remove gel polish below. 


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Once you've taken off your gel polish/extensions, make sure you've got some cuticle oil (or one of the alternatives, like coconut oil) to hand.

"Cuticle oil, cuticle oil, cuticle oil! It is literally the best and only thing that will help you grow strong and healthy nails," Rebecca said, as she talked about the way to keep your nails health post-gel or extension removal.

"If your nails are weak/ damaged, its best to cut them down and keep them short until the damaged area grows out as they will only bend and break on you. Keep applying that cuticle oil though to get them strong and healthy again."

And if you start to feel creative but you're not sure what to do (or if you find it hard to paint your own nails), she's also got a range of video tutorials on her Instagram - so you'll be able to find some really easy tips and tricks on how to DIY from home.