How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone


If it’s time to have your gel nails removed, it’s best to do it at a salon. But you may prefer to do it at home, especially if you’d like to avoid acetone. Acetone can be very harsh because it removes natural oils from your skin.[1] Try peeling or filing your gel nails off without acetone. You can also soak your nails first to make the process easier. Remember to always moisturize your hands and nails afterwards no matter what method you use.

Part 1
Peeling Them Off

Peeling Them Off on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Wait until the nails are already chipped. Find a loose spot and lift up part of the gel nail with your fingernail or a pair of tweezers.[2] Waiting around a week or two before trying to peel off the gel nails will reduce the damage done to your natural nails, since the gel will have had time to loosen and chip off.[3]

Peeling Them Off on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Put your finger under lukewarm running water. Using your free hand, place a finger underneath the lifted gel nail and gently push it off your natural nail. Be patient and go slow so you won’t damage the natural nail underneath.[4]

Peeling Them Off on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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If you are finding it difficult to peel the nail off under running water, try using olive oil or cuticle oil instead. Cover the gel nail and the fingernail you are using to push the gel nail off with oil. Then, slide your nail under the gel nail and gently push it off. Apply more oil as needed.[5] You can also use an orangewood stick instead of your fingernail to gently push the gel nail off.

Peeling Them Off on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Even after you have pushed off the gel nail, there may be some gel left on your fingernail. Dry the nail and use a nail file to buff it off with gentle back and forth movements. Be sure to only buff off the gel residue and not your natural nail.[6] Most nail files have a coarse side and a smooth side. The coarse side is best for shaping your nails. This side will look and feel a lot bumpier. For buffing the surface of the nail, use the smoother side of the file.[7]

Peeling Them Off on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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The process of taking off gel nails can leave your natural nails and hands quite dry and cracked. Once you’ve finished, cover your natural nails with cuticle oil. You should also moisturize your hands with hand cream.[8]

Part 2
Filing Off the Nails

Filing Off the Nails on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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First, trim your nails as short as possible. This will reduce the surface area that you will have to file down.[9] If you nails are too thick to cut with a nail clipper, you can file the tips with the coarse grit side of your nail file until they are thin enough to clip off.

Filing Off the Nails on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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File gently, making crosshatches across the surface of the nail to keep it looking even and smooth. Continually move the file around your nail so you never feel a burning sensation. Move slowly and be patient: it will take some time to file down all the gel nail polish. Wipe away any dust that gathers on the nail as you file. You may want to use a metal nail file for this step because it is stronger and able to file down the gel faster. If you file the nail too quickly or roughly, you may damage the natural nail underneath.[10]

Filing Off the Nails on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Once you see your natural nail under the gel, stop filing with the coarse grit side of your nail file. Carefully file off the remaining gel with the fine grit side.[11] You will know you are close to the natural nail when you notice the amount of dust is decreasing or you start to see the natural ridges of your nail

Filing Off the Nails on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Once you have filed off all the gel polish, it’s important to add moisture and nourishment to your nails. Use a nail buffer on your nails to make the surface of your nails clean and smooth. Apply lotion or oil to your nails and hands.[12] No matter how careful you are, filing off your gel nails will cause some damage to your natural nails, so don’t skip the buffing and conditioning.

Part 3
Loosening the Polish by Soaking

Loosening the Polish by Soaking on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Use a small bowl that will be big enough to submerge one or both hands. Add a couple of drops of dish soap and a teaspoon of salt.[13] Be sure the water is quite warm or it won’t loosen the gel polish. You may need to add more warm water if it gets cold while you are soaking your nails.

Loosening the Polish by Soaking on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Dip your hand in the water so that all your nails are completely submerged. There is no need to move your fingers. Simply keep them still under the water for 15-20 minutes.[14] You can soak one hand at a time, or place both hands in the bowl at once.

Loosening the Polish by Soaking on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Take you nails out of the water and dab them with a clean towel to dry. You may already start to notice some of the gel nails cracking or peeling off.[15] If it doesn’t look like the soak has loosened the nails at all, you can repeat the soaking process once again, or go straight to filing or peeling them off.

Loosening the Polish by Soaking on How to Get Gel Nails Off Without Acetone

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Soaking your nails will probably not take any of the gel nails off by itself. But once you have soaked your nails, it will be easier to remove them with whatever acetone-free method you choose.[16] If you choose to file off the gel nails after soaking, be sure that your nails are totally dry before you start. This will make the filing much easier.