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How to Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home

Written by: Ellie Simmons



Time to read 7 min

A common misconception is that wearing gel polish on your nails will damage your natural nails. But we’re here to set to record straight and let you know that it’s actually incorrectly removing gel polish that can damage your nails.

Picking or peeling your gel nail polish and not using a proper removal method can damage your natural nail bed underneath and cause your nails to feel thinner or bendier and prone to breakage.

If it’s time to take off your old gel polish, then we’ve got all the tips you need to properly and safely remove gel nail polish at home, ready for a fresh mani.

Different Methods for Removing Gel Nail Polish at Home

There are several ways that you can remove gel polish, and the method you use really just down to your personal preference.

The one thing that remains the same, however, is that you must use acetone to remove any gel polish product. Regular nail polish remover won’t cut through the gel formula, but an acetone-based product will.

We’ll take you through how to use each of our gel removal products step-by-step to ensure proper removal.

How to Take Off Gel Nails at Home Using Gel Remover & 100% Acetone

Our Gel Remover (with acetone) and 100% Pure Acetone can both be used in similar ways to remove old gel polish, and they work incredibly well.

Step 1: Buff the Top Layer of Gel Polish

Every removal process for gel polish removal starts with the buffing/filing of the top layer. This is to remove the shine from the top coat.

This must be done firmly as the surface must be opened up to allow you to penetrate your gel polish with remover. Do but be careful not to file too much and damage the nail underneath your gel colour.

Step 2: Soak Your Gels In Acetone

Once the top layer is thoroughly buffed, you can soak a cotton pad, cotton ball, or our Nail Wipes with Mylee Gel Remover, or 100% Pure Acetone and place over the gel colour.

Step 3: Secure the Cotton or Wipe

After you have soaked the cotton or wiped it in your acetone-based remover, you should secure this with clips or a piece of foil wrapped around the fingertip.

Leave this on for 10 to 15 minutes to soak.

Or Use our Pre-Soaked Remover Wraps

You can also use our Mylee Pre Soaked Remover Wraps. Tear along the line of the sachet, discard the film to reveal the sticky side, pop your finger in so your nail is against the pre-soaked pad. 

Then, fold over the sides so they stick on the sticky side and your fingertip is snug inside.

Then leave this on for 10 to 15 minutes to soak.

Step 4: Remove the Wraps & Scrape Off The Polish

Either method you choose, after 10 to 15 minutes, remove the wrap or clip around your nails, and use a Wooden Cuticle Pusher Stick or the Mylee Gel Scraper, to gently push away any gel polish from your nail bed.

You need to be super gentle with this and don’t scrape your natural nail bed, or you could damage it.

Step 5: Repeat the Process If Necessary

If the gel is still being tough and stuck of there, re-buff and re-wrap your nail for another 10 minutes to remove the remnants.

Once you have completely removed the gel polish from your nails, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. Finish by applying Sweet Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil.

How to Get Gel Nails Off at Home using Magic Gel Remover

Another option to remove your gel manicure is using the Mylee Magic Gel Remover. It’s super quick and easy to use and can remove your gel polish in just 6 minutes.

Don’t be afraid of the texture, it’s a bit thick and gloopy to apply, but it works!

Here’s how to use it to get your gel nails off at home:

  1. Buff your nails to remove the shine of the top coat.

  2. Apply a generous layer Magic Gel Remover over the gel, avoiding the skin.

  3. Leave it on for 5-6 minutes. During this time it should start to bubble

  4. Use a scraper or a cuticle pusher to scrape off the polish.

  5. Wash your hands immediately after use. Make sure to rehydrate your nails using some cuticle oil and hand cream!

How to Infill Your Outgrown Gel Nails Using Builder Gel

If your nails have grown out and you need to refresh your set of gels, you don’t always have to remove them.

Infilling is a great way to save yourself going through the whole gel removal process, and you get to keep your design.

To infill your gel nails using Builder Gel, follow our steps below:

  1. File down the top of your gel polish firmly, removing most of your polish.

  2. Push back and trim your cuticles – ONLY trimming dead white skin.

  3. Buff your natural nail that’s being infilled so the gel can grip to the nail bed, using a nail wipe to remove any dust.

  4. Starting at the end of the nail, apply your Builder Gel, pushing towards your cuticle and float over the rest of your nail.

  5. Cure under your Mylee LED Lamp.

Rounding Up: How to Remove Gel Polish at Home With Mylee

When the time comes to remove your gel polish, doing it properly and safely is so important for the health of your natural nails. Poor removal can cause damage to your nails underneath the polish, leading to peeling, splitting and breaking.

Make sure you follow our steps above for the best gel polish removal, using the right method for the product you’re using.

Our How to Remove Gel Polish page has really handy video tutorials so you can perfect the process, so be sure to check that out, too!


How Do You Remove Gel Nail Polish Without Acetone?

Acetone is a key ingredient in most gel removal products. If you don’t want to use 100% acetone, you can try a remover with a lower percentage. Normal nail polish removers without acetone are best used on regular nail polish and won’t penetrate gel polish.

Is It Okay to Peel Off Gel Nail Polish?

If your gel polish is starting to lift or peel, it can be very tempting to peel it off! Peeling or lifting can occur if you cured any gel polish on your skin or cuticle or if you didn’t cap the free edge of your nail. But please don’t peel! Peeling gel polish off your natural nail bed can cause damage to your nails and make them a bit thinner. To keep your nails strong, try the methods outlined above!

What is the Fastest Way to Remove Gel Nail Polish?

Our Magic Gel Remover can remove your gel nail polish in just 6 minutes! Simply buff your nail, apply the remover, let it sit for 6 minutes and gently push it off your nail bed.

Is Acetone Different from Nail Polish Remover?

Acetone is a key ingredient in most nail polish removers, at varying percentages. You can use 100% acetone to remove your gel polish, and you can also use gel polish removers. Some normal (non-gel) nail polish remover may not contain any acetone, however this won’t be effective to remove your gel manis.

How Long Do You Soak Nails in Acetone?

Depending on the thickness of your gel mani, the time you need to soak your nails in acetone or gel polish remover can vary. We recommend soaking your nails for 10-15 minutes. If your gel polish isn’t lifting away or is a bit more stubborn, you can soak for a bit longer or repeat as needed. Stronger products, such as 5-In-1 Builder Gel or Magic Extender Gel, might need a bit longer soaking to remove. Acetone can dry out the skin and cuticle around your nails, and the longer you soak, the drier your nails could get, so be sure to add some cuticle oil once your gel is removed. Please note: Magic Gel Remover won’t work on Builder or Magic Extender Gel because it’s to thick to penetrate.

How Long Should You Keep Gel Nails On?

A normal gel mani usually lasts around 2 to 3 weeks. However, if you have prepped correctly and looked after your hands and nails, it can last a lot longer. If you’re a bit tougher on your nails, e.g. exposure to lots of cleaning products, it can affect the longevity of your manicure. The main reason to switch up your manicure after 2-3 weeks is due to nail growth. As your nails grow out, your gel polish will grow out with it. At Mylee, we love switching up our nails often and trying out new shades and designs!

Is Soaking Nails in Acetone Safe?

Soaking your nails in acetone for a short time to remove your gel mani is safe. Acetone can be dangerous when ingested, so be sure to keep it in a safe place away from children or pets. Top tip: put cuticle oil around your cuticles before soaking your nails in acetone to keep the skin around your nails from drying out.

Ellie Simmons

Ellie is the Brand Manager at Mylee, where she immerses herself in all things gel nails. 

Alongside being a skilled and certified nail technician, Ellie's expertise extends to gel manicures and nail extensions. Her heart and soul are devoted to all things nail-related, and she loves flaunting her own long, natural nails with captivating nail art. 

Ellie's ultimate favourites are iridescent and sparkly designs!

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