Note: Almond Nails is reader supported. If you purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you.

Can You Take Off Gel Nails With Nail Polish Remover?

So you have recently visited a Salon, who have in turn, applied beautiful Gel Nails that you simply adore.

You’ve thoroughly enjoyed your time with your new nails, but you are now getting to the point in where they are starting to chip off, and to not look as good as what they once did when first done.

Now you are probably wondering: Can You Take Off Gel Nails With Nail Polish Remover?

That’s what we are going to address today, and by the end of it, you will know exactly if you can and how to effectively do so.

I get this question all the time, especially because I apply gel nails to hundreds of clients a week at my salon. Many of them are cautious to get their nails done in the first place, or are increasingly anxious at the thought of having to return to get their gel polish removed.

But the truth of the matter is, I know that you have invested in your Gel Nails already, and you shouldn’t have to, nor even want to go back to the salon to get them removed.

Besides that’s just too costly – both in time and in cash!

I understand because, back in the day, I have been there myself.

As such, I would like to provide you with some expert advice, tips and tricks to ensure that you do not have to do this.

I am here to tell you how to safely and effectively remove gel polish right in the comfort of your own home.

Without the need to just pick, peel and hope that you do not damage your nails in the process. To ensure that you get the right products, and to remove the challenges that you are faced with when removing the strongest of gel polishes.

How to Remove Gel Polish – The Best Way

Now before we jump right in and outline the step by step process to remove gel polish, in the best way possible, I’d like to first provide a spoiler: yes – you can remove gel nail polish with nail polish remover.  

It is a little bit more difficult than this, and whilst you may just stop reading right here and reach for your nearby nail polish remover, it is important that you use a pure acetone formula (like this).

Whilst I have written on Almond Nails several times about it being preferable and the benefits of using a natural nail polish remover (even for the most stubborn of nail polishes) if you have Gel Nails that you would like to remove, you are going to need something a bit stronger.

Reason being, Acetone has the unique ability to remove Gel Nails with minimal effort and ease. That is, if you get a maximum strength formula which is designed for removing gel nails.

There is actually a very effective way of doing this, which I will now present to you below.

So if you are ready to remove your gel nails without removing half of your nail in the process. Here are the best two methods with my expert tips, lets get started:

Method One: The Double Boiling Soaking Technique (Preferred Method)

can you take off gel nails with nail polish remover

Time Required: 15-25 Minutes:

What You Will Need:

  • Nail File
  • Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover
  • Orange Stick
  • A Large Bowl and a Smaller Bowl.
  • Hot Water

If you love to bake, then you will know exactly what this technique involves. Essentially, what you will be doing is using the steam and heat from hot water in a larger bowl to help remove your gel nails. The steam will help to weaken your polish, and get you to having your natural nails back a lot faster.

Step One: To start, you will need to first file your nails. This will help to remove the top coat that is applied to keep your gel nails intact and firm.

Using a fine grit Nail File, file each of your nails gently, being cautious not to over-file and hit your nail bed. You only need to file for a short while, just to break the the top coat layer which will enable your nail polish remover to penetrate most effectively.

Once all of your nails have lost that shiny finish, you are ready for the next step.

Step Two: Your next job will be to fill the Larger of the two bowls with hot water. I first like to boil the kettle and then pour this into the large bowl. Do not overfill it, because next up you will be placing the smaller bowl inside the larger bowl. This way, the hot water will be in effect warming the smaller bowl and the contents that will be held inside.

Step Three: Pour Acetone Nail Polish Remover into the small bowl. The hot water from the larger bowl will start to heat this up. Being slightly luke warm will help the Acetone to remove your gel nails faster and more easily.

As I have previously mentioned, it is sensible to use a maximum strength Acetone polish remover as the ingredients that are used in gel colors, make them very difficult to remove.

When you are removing UV-cured coatings (like gel, lacquer, shellac), acetone will be the most effective product that you can use for this task. I actually advise that you use an Acetone Formulation that has been designed specifically for Shellac Polish, Gel polish, Artificial nails, standard Nail polish, Nail glue and Glitter polish. You need the strength to be able to effectively remove even the most stubborn polishes, but you also want one that is nicely scented and is not going to cause you to choke and to struggle to breath during the removal.

This is why, I use and swear by this Acetone Nail Polish Remover.

Step Four: Soak your fingers into the small bowl for around 5-10 minutes. Making sure that all of your finger nails are below the surface of the water. 5-10 minutes should suffice, however if your gel polish seems to be particualrly stubborn you may need a few minutes more.

Step Five: Remove your hands from the bowl. Use your orange stick to gently remove the last and remaining gel nail polish from each and every one of your fingers. You should be able push using the orange stick relatively gently as the gel polish should be considerably weakened.

Step Six: Clean and wash your hands, using warm water and soap. Having used Acetone, your nails are likely to look and feel dry at this point. I would therefore suggest you apply a Cuticle Oil to help rejuvenate your natural nails and ensure that the Acetone does not damage your nails beyond the removal process.

Method Two: The Foil Technique

Time Required: 35-45 Minutes:

What You Will Need:

  • 10-20 cotton balls
  • 10-20 strips of aluminum foil (that you can wrap around each one of your fingers)
  • Acetone Nail Polish Remover
  • Gritty nail file
  • Orange stick

Whilst this secondary technique is also great at removing gel nails, I actually dont think it is as easy as the Double Boiling Soaking Method outlined above. However, I often use it in the Salon to great effect because it is pretty easy to do and not particularly messy.

The Foil method is essentially the same process, but instead of soaking your nails, you will be covering them instead. What you will be doing is resting a cotton ball soaked in acetone onto each of your nails, and then using aluminium foil to wrap the cotton ball in place.

nail foil to remove gel nails

Step One: You will first start by getting all of the items together, and by preparing the Aluminium Foil. You will need to essentially create 10 Foil strips that will be used to cover each finger.

Cut the Foil into 10 even strips, and ensure that the foil is large enough to wrap around each of your fingers. If you go slightly overboard do not worry, it will just mean that when you wrap it will be slightly more bulky on your nail.

Step Two: Next up is to file your nails. You need to do this to remove the top coat that would have been applied to your gel nails. This provides the protection from chipping and the shiny effect, which we obviously no longer need. By removing the top coat, you will find it far more easy to remove your gel nails, so this is a pretty important step for this method and its resulting success.

Use a 240 Grit Nail File, (like this one) and buff away on each of your nails. You will want to file until your nails look slightly rough. Be very careful not to over-file; because if you file beyond your top coat you risk damaging your natural nails underneath.

Step Two: Get your first Cotton Ball, and soak it heavily in the Acetone Nail Polish Remover. Don’t be conservative here and make sure that the Cotton Ball is pretty much drenched. This is important as this is the agent that is effectively removing your gel nail polish.

Now place the Cotton Ball over one of your nails, ensuring that the surface area completely covers your nail.

Step Three: Using one of the pieces of Aluminium Foil that you previously prepared in step one, wrap a cut piece of foil over the cotton ball and around your finger. Whilst the Foil keeps your Cotton Ball in place, it doubles up by helping to prevent the acetone from evaporating and instead ensures that it can work away at the gel nail.

Step Four: Now you must repeat this for every single nail; covering each cotton ball in the remover, applying to your nail, and then wrapping the foil around.

Step Five: At this stage it is a waiting game whilst the Acetone works its magic. It usually takes around 30 minutes, but as your nails are covered and the Foil is keeping the Cotton Balls in place, you can easily just rest them gently onto a table in front of you or on your legs. You can then just sit back and watch some TV whilst you wait it out.

Step Six: Time to check! Once 30 minutes are roughly up, you will need to check using the orange stick to see whether the gel nails have been removed or is starting to peel off.

First, start with one finger and nail – remove the foil and take off the Cotton Ball. Now, using the orange stick start gently pushing the polish – it should come away nice and easily!

Now, I advise that you start with one nail at a time – do not remove all the foil and cotton balls just in case your nails require a little bit more time. But you can assess the situation on each nail, and if whilst 30 minutes should be plenty of time, if you find that on some nails the polish isn’t coming off, you can always soak again using a new Cotton Ball and the existing/new strip of foil.

If this occurs, you may only need to do this for an extra 10-15 minutes.

Step Seven: To finish up, simply wash your hands with warm water and a bit of soap to remove any remaining Acetone away from your fingers and skin. I always advise that at this stage you apply Cuticle Oil so that your natural nails can be enriched with helpful ingredients that will preserve and restore their health. Particularly after a chemical like Acetone has been on them!

Final Words

So there you have it; two safe, quick and effective ways to remove Gel Nails at home without the need to visit the Salon!

I would just like to reiterate the importance of using an Acetone Formulation that has ingredients like Vitamin E to help protect your nails. Acetone is powerful stuff, and unless measures are taking to care for your nails following its use, you may notice that your nails are dry and start to weaken. This will not be the case if you use an Acetone Remover like my recommendation and or/use a reputable Cuticle Oil. 

I hope that you utilize both methods and that they work for you. Let me know by dropping a comment below and outlining your experience.

Hopefully, you will now be confident to visit the Salon and get your Gel Nails done without that horrible feeling looming over you; getting them removed will be difficult!