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First week post-gel manicure. You feel all roses and peaches. Your nails are glossy, chip-free and fine looking. Third week in and maybe that shine on your nails no longer sparkles and appeals as much. Yawn, you are bored of it and you want a change but you would rather not make a trip to the salon to remove the polish (man, money is tight!) and you would rather save the money on new makeup or skincare products. Sounds familiar?

Good news! It is not that difficult to remove the gel nail polish do-it-yourself in the comforts of your own home. And no, please don’t try to yank it off your nails. You don’t want to damage your nail cuticles in the name of cheap.

What you need:

  1. Cotton balls or pads
  2. 100% pure acetone
  3. Nail file
  4. Vaseline or petroleum jelly product
  5. Aluminum foil
  6. Orange stick

Step 1: Get ready your nail file


Buff off the first layer of polish. File only in one direction to risk damaging your nails. The key is you want to remove the shine – topmost layer of the gel nail polish.

Step 2: Protect your skin

Dab your fingers into the tub of Vaseline and apply the petroleum jelly around the edges of your nails. This helps to provide moisture and protection from the acetone as it can be potently drying for your skin. Even then, less is more. Don’t over do it.

Step 3: Douse your cotton balls in Acetone

Manicure 6 1

Soak cotton balls in Acetone and let them absorb all that solution. Start by placing the doused cotton balls on your non dominant hand and nails. Trust us, this makes the whole process of wrapping of fingers with aluminium foil easier.

Grab an aluminium foil and wrap each acetone-soaked cotton balls tightly on your fingers. Repeat and rinse for ten fingers. It may get messy, troublesome and frustrating. But remember your goal is to do-it-yourself, so you can save yourself from exorbitant manicure fees, so persevere!

Step 4: Remove the foil and cotton balls

After 30 minutes, peel off the foil and cotton balls. Reveal your nails and check if the polish is flaking. Swipe your nails with the cotton ball. If the gel comes right off, pat yourself on the back because you’re almost done. If there are stubborn polish on your nail bed – soak the cotton ball in acetone again and rub it out a little, it should come off easily.

Alternatively, you can use an orange stick to push out the gel nail polish. Tip: The longer you leave the acetone on the nail, the easier the process would be.

Step 5: Nourish and moisturise

The gel polish is off and your nails look like they been through much tribulation. Don’t despair. It’s only temporary. Wash your fingers and hands in warm water and apply hand cream, or if you are feeling fancy, a cuticle oil on your fingertips to moisturise your cracked skin. Now, your nails look healthy and glowing. See, wasn’t that easy?

There you go, a (relatively) fast and do-it-yourself way to remove your gel nail polish. Imagine the time you spent, it would only have covered your transportation trip from the nail salon back and forth.