How to Safely Remove a Gel Manicure at Home

How to Safely Remove a Gel Manicure at Home

“It can be pretty satisfying to pick off a gel manicure,” admits Rita Pinto, founder of the downtown cool-girl nail spot Vanity Projects. “But it’s really bad for your nails.” If you had a coat of shellac applied before the #stayhome mandate, chances are that now, a few weeks later, your digits are looking a little less polished. Should you be faced with a set of gels that won’t budge, look no further for expert advice. “Let’s think long-term here,” explains the pro, before offering a few foolproof steps for proper gel polish removal.


When Is it Time to Remove Gel Polish?

“Before COVID-19 I would have suggested every two weeks,” says Pinto. “Now I would suggest people leave them on as long as they are looking healthy.” A bit of regrowth at the cuticle is alright, “but I’d limit the manicure to one month to be safe.” Should the polish chip or lift during those initial two weeks, Pinto recommends removing the gel immediately, since moisture and water can get trapped under the nail, leading to a possible infection. “When you peel off your gel, even when you pry it off in entirety with a subway card, there is always a layer of the nail that goes with it,” she says.


Prep the Nail

Before getting down to business, Pinto recommends washing hands with warm water and soap. Then, find a clean space to work with plenty of light. Before any polish is removed, “use a nail clipper to cut nails down to your desired length,” she says, and file down any remaining uneven edges. Finally, “buff out the top layer of polish with a coarse file,” since it will make the removal process a bit easier.

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