You Don't Always Need Acetone To Remove Your Gel Polish

Many people who like to have painted nails love getting gel manicures. Gel nail polish has a really striking and beautiful glossy sheen. Plus, it lasts longer than regular polish does and doesn't chip as easily. However, there are plenty of mistakes people make with gel nails, especially when it comes to the removal process.

The standard way to remove gel polish is by soaking the nails in acetone. At a nail salon, the manicurists usually soak cotton balls in acetone and use aluminum foil to keep them in place around your fingernails. Then, they may use nail drills on any remaining gel polish to remove it completely. 

This is not a perfect system. Like any chemical, acetone exposure can cause damage to your nails and cuticles, as it's known to dry them out. You may want to stop using acetone on your nails for this reason and find a safer alternative for removing your gel nail polish. Luckily, there are some other methods that are just as effective.

The most basic way to remove gel polish

If you want to skip the salon and its acetone-based processes for gel nail polish removal, one simple way to remove the polish is to let your nails grow out. Instead of rushing to remove your nail polish and giving yourself a new manicure, you leave the color and/or design on your nails. You should give your nails a trim on a weekly basis so that they don't get too long. Eventually, the polish will have grown out and your nails will be fresh. Chances are, the polish will have naturally come off in that time, anyway.

However, this process is very much a lengthy one and not the route to take if you want instant polish removal. It can take approximately six months for fingernails to grow, and two or three times that long for toenails to grow. If you are an impatient person and will feel tempted to scratch or scrape off the gel polish to get it off faster, you may want to choose another removal method.

A faster, non-acetone method for gel polish removal

The nail polish company Orly has a guide on removing gel nail polish that, if done correctly, works quickly without damaging your nails. This process works best if your manicure is at least two weeks old and already starting to lift in some places.

The first step is to trim your nails as much as you can. Then, run water over the polish, especially on spots where the polish is separating from the nail. As the water runs over the nails and the polish continues to separate, you can gently push it free from your nail. Be sure not to force the polish off your nail — it should come off with only a little help from you. If the running water is not enough, Orly suggests rubbing olive oil or cuticle oil over the polish to try and loosen it.

You can also soak your hands in warm water, salt, and dish soap for about 20 minutes to help loosen the polish if the other techniques aren't working. Once you've dried your hands and the majority of the polish is off, you can use the smooth side of a nail file on any additional spots. Be sure to only buff the polish and not your nail itself. The last step is to moisturize your hands and nails with things like lotion and cuticle oil.

The next time you need to remove your gel manicure, you can try the above options before using an acetone-based method.