Gel nails are great because they last longer and are hard to chip. It is these same properties, however, that make gel nails difficult to remove. While going to a salon to have them professionally removed is always the best answer, there are times when it just isn’t possible. Whether you’re down to your last dollar for the week or it’s the eleventh hour before a big party, removing your gel nails at home is sometimes the only option. If you’re going to go this route, however, it’s best to do it right. After all, scratching and tugging on the gel to remove it can cause damage. Instead, follow this guide and you’ll have your beautiful natural nails back in no time.
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What are gel nails?
Gel nails are a relatively new type of nail art that differs from both regular polish and acrylic. When it comes to getting gel nails, you can choose between hard gel nails or soft gel nails. Hard gel nails are similar to acrylic nails, they are applied as a nail extension or artificial nails. Soft gel nails, on the other hand, usually refer to gel polishes. These polishes are applied the same way as regular polishes and are often offered at manicure services.
Although the process of receiving a soft gel manicure is much the same as a standard manicure, soft gel nails last much longer and are harder to chip. This is due to the thick consistency of the gel, which is set and hardened by being placed under a UV or LED lamp. Be aware, however, that UV rays can be harmful to your skin. If your salon uses them, be sure to apply sunscreen to your hands before doing your nails. Hard gel nails also require curing/curing under UV or LED lamp. Acrylic nails, on the other hand, do not use these lights and are made with a solvent-dipped powder.
Although soft gel nails last much longer than regular polish, they will cost you more. At a salon, you’ll typically pay around $50 for a standard gel manicure. The price can go up quickly, however, if you want fancy designs. While there are at-home kits you can try, going to the salon is usually your best bet for quality results. Likewise, hard gel nails tend to cost more than acrylics, however, they also look more natural and have greater flexibility.
How long do gel nails last?
Soft gel nails tend to last much longer than traditional nail polish, which is why they have become such a popular option. The standard length of time you can expect your gel polish to last is 2-3 weeks. This makes it an ideal option for times when you have several events coming up in the space of a few weeks. Unlike traditional polish, gel polish will allow you to maintain the beautiful color of your nails throughout this period without having to worry about chipping. However, exactly how long they last depends on the gel used, how it is applied, and your body chemistry. While home kits can be a convenient option, they won’t last as long as the ones you would receive at a salon. In general, a homemade gel manicure lasts about 10 days.
Hard gel nails also tend to last around two weeks, but this can vary. Although acrylic nails often last longer than hard gel extensions, many women still opt for gel because of its appearance.
How to remove gel nails
Removing gel nails can be a tricky process and if done incorrectly can weaken your nail beds. It’s always a good idea to have gels removed at the salon, but if you’re short on time or money, you can remove them at home. Just be sure to be very careful when removing them yourself, so as not to damage your nails.
Soft gels should not be peeled or scraped off aggressively as this will also tear away layers of your natural nail. Instead, using 100% pure acetone or a dedicated gel remover, they should just crumble. Although gel remover tends to be more expensive and harder to find than pure acetone, it is gentler on the nail bed.
Steps to remove soft gel nails
- Start by buffing the surface of your gels with a coarse nail file. This will break through the clear top coat applied over the gels and allow the acetone to penetrate.
- Dip a cotton ball in acetone and place it on your nail.
- Wrap a small square of aluminum foil around your fingernail and the cotton ball.
- Repeat this process for the other nails on that hand.
- Let your nails rest. 15 minutes is usually a good amount of time, but the process can take longer or shorter depending on the product used.
- Glide the foil and cotton balls over your nails. The gel should crumble. If not, you may need to soak your nails longer.
- Carefully remove the remaining gel from your nails using a cuticle pusher.
- After the colored gel is removed, you may be left with a clear residue where the primer and first coat meet. Remove it by washing your hands thoroughly and using a 4-sided pad to smooth it out.
- When done, use cuticle oil and moisturizer to rehydrate your nail bed.
- Repeat on the other hand.
Steps to remove hard gel nails
- Start by using nail clippers to trim your nails.
- File the surface of your nails using an 80/80 grit nail file. Be sure to file gently and evenly into the cross hatches while constantly moving the file to new areas.
- As you file, wipe away dust so you can see when you reach your natural nails.
- Once you can see the ridges of your nail, file the remaining gel with a finer grit nail file. Work gently and slowly to avoid damaging your natural nails.
- When all the gel is gone, use a buffer to smooth the surface of your nails.
- Apply cuticle oil and nail moisturizer.
How to make your nails stronger?
Done right, applying and removing gel nails shouldn’t harm your natural nails, but the process can sometimes dry them out. Dry nails become weak, brittle and grow more slowly, so it’s important to rehydrate and treat the nails to keep them strong. Cuticle oil and moisturizer should always be applied to the nail bed after removing gel nails. This will help the nails stay healthy and strong and prevent snags. If you don’t have access to cuticle oil, soaking your nails in tea tree oil or massaging them with olive oil will have a similar effect. If your nails are still brittle, consider adding vitamins and supplements like biotin, vitamin E, and fish oil to your daily routine and eating more protein-rich foods.
When receiving gel nails, you can also ask your salon for IBX information. The pre-gel treatment is applied under the gels and is designed to strengthen the nails and act as a protective shield.
What is the fastest way to remove gel nails?
There are two types of gel manicure; hard and soft. Hard gel manicures are applied as nail extensions or artificial nails. The process of soft is similar to regular polished nails, but the difference is that the gel polish formula hardens after being placed under a UV or LED lamp. To remove gel nails at home, start by buffing the nail surface to break through the top coat. Then dip a cotton ball in acetone and place it on your nail. Cover your nail with foil to hold it in place and wait about 15-20 minutes for the removal process. Finish by using a cuticle pusher to get rid of any leftover gel.
How to remove gel nails without acetone?
Acetone nail polish remover makes the process of removing gel nails much easier, but there are alternatives. Some people want a more natural removal process, cover the nail with olive oil or cuticle oil, then push back the gel polish. You can also try pouring water on the raised edge and pushing the gel polish off your natural nails.
How to remove gel nails at home?
The process of removing gel nails at home is relatively simple. Typically, you first buff the nail to remove the top coat, then dip a cotton ball in acetone and cover your nails with foil to allow for the removal process. You will need to be patient as it takes around 15-20 minutes. Then remove the gel using a cuticle pusher.
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