Regardless of whether you’re in Tier 4 or not, removing gel nails is such a useful skill to have under your belt. And, if you follow our pro tips, you can achieve salon-worthy results. Acrylic, gel and CND Shellac manicures all call for a very specific removal method. You can't just go in with any old shop-bought nail polish remover and hope for the best, it simply won't work.
For those who are used to booking gel, acrylic or CND Shellac removal appointments ahead of their next manicure, the step-by-step gel removal process is a familiar routine - but one that's normally left in the hands of the pros. Now it's time to get acquainted with the DIY version. Here's how to remove a gel, acrylic or CND Shellac manicure yourself at home.
First things first, try to resist the temptation to pick or bite your nails off, doing so will wear them down and deplete their flexibility and strength. Simply follow our four-step guide and learn how to remove your gel, acrylic or CND Shellac manicure at home once and for all. Pay close attention to these gel removal instructions and you won't go far wrong:
The Gel Removal Tool Kit
To remove gel, acrylic or CND Shellac nail polish you'll need a nail polish remover containing acetone, cotton pads, a cuticle pusher, tin foil, a nail file and some cuticle oil. Those are your key DIY gel polish removal ingredients right there. Stock up and let's get going.
Gel Nails Removal Kit - Grazia 2021
1. Cutex Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover, £2.20
2. Glossier Cotton Rounds, £4 for 60
3. Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File, £12.50
4. Jessica Phenomen Oil Intensive Moisturiser, £9.25
5. Nails Inc. Gel Less Remover Pot, £19
6. Boots Gel Nails Removal Kit, £6
7. Sensationail Gel Polish Removal Kit, £9
Step 1: File Down The Top Coat
Before reaching for the nail polish remover it's important to file down that top layer of (pretty tough) gel, acrylic or CND Shellac nail polish. You'll likely find CND Shellac polish a little easier to get through than gels or acrylics. Owner of London nail salon Selfish, a Treatwell partner salon, Ksenia McAnulty, recommends using a really coarse nail file for this - 'Take your nail file and file down as much of the topcoat and colour as you can.' The key here is to take it slowly, as you don't want to file down to the natural nail and cause damage. Got that? Let's move on.
Step 2: Soak The Gel, Acrylic or CND Shellac Nail Polish Off
For this step you need your cotton pads (cut each one into quarters until you have 10 pieces to hand) and tin foil (cut into 10 squares). First up, soak the cotton pad in your acetone infused nail polish remover before placing it against the nail tip and wrapping the tin foil around it to secure the cotton pad in place. At this point, you'll see the process starts to look a lot like the removal stage of a gel polish nail appointment in-salon.
Top tip? 'Only do one hand at a time to prevent leaving the acetone on your second hand for too long,' suggests McAnulty. Acetone is very drying when it comes to the skin around your finger nails.
Leave the foils on for 10-15 minutes.
Step 3: Scrape Off The Remaining Gel, Acrylic Or CND Shellac Polish
Once the nails have finished soaking, it's time to remove the foils. McAnulty recommends checking the foils every five minutes as some nail polishes lift easier than others. The remaining polish should now be loose and sticky in texture - this can be gently scraped away with a cuticle pusher.
If the polish doesn't come away easily - that's a sign your nails need to soak for longer. So go back to step 2 and wrap your nails again. Patience is key when it comes to removing gel, acrylic or CND Shellac nail polish at home.
Step 4: Show Your Nails Some TLC
Finish your at-home treatment with a hefty dose of TLC. Removing gel, acrylic or CND Shellac nail polish isn't the kindest process when it comes to your nails, so once the job's done it's time to re-address the balance and work on nourishing your nails. We suggest soaking your nails in some water (add a few drops of oil for extra nourishment) to soften the skin before massaging in some cuticle oil and hand-cream. We rate Mauli's Reawaken Hand & Body Lotion, £29, packed with skin-soothing essential oils and cell-rejuvenating aloe-vera. And there you have it! A pro level guide to removing that gel, acrylic or CND Shellac manicure at home.
And for an extra special finish, give your nails a slick of colour with one of these punchy polishes:
Best Nail Polish 2020
1. Rimmel Super Gel Nail Polish in Plum Pudding, £6.99
2. Nailberry L'Oxygéné Oxygenated Nail Lacquer, £14.50
3. OPI Classic Nail Lacquer In Big Apple Red, £12.95
4. Essie Nail Polish in Not Just A Pretty Face, £7.95