Gel nail polish has revolutionized the beauty world — but there is no denying that removing the color from your nails is easy. Whether it’s soaking your nails in acetone for what seems like an eternity before your next manicure, or (gasp) chipping it off, taking off gel nail polish is a chore.

However, beauty experts have some secrets when it comes to removing gel polish at home that won’t completely destroy your nail beds and cuticles. So how should you approach the process? Keep reading to find out!*

The Best Way to Remove Gel Nail Polish

Save yourself time (and money) by removing the polish yourself. All you need is nail file, acetone, cotton balls, and aluminum foil. First, buff your mani to remove the shine and proceed to douse (and we mean douse) your cotton balls in acetone. Be sure you use maximum strength nail polish remover (and avoid anything labeled non-acetone).

“Gel needs to be removed with acetone or an acetone-based remover,” Casey Herman, celebrity nail artist to Jennifer Lawrence told The Knot. “Generally, the higher acetone content of the remover, the quicker it will remove the gel.”

Once you have your cotton ball, place over your nail and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat for all your fingers. Now, the hard part — let it sit for at least 30 minutes to make sure the gel polish dissolves. From here you should be able to peel off the paint without damaging your nails. After, don’t forget to moisturize and let your nails breathe, especially if you’ve had back-to-back gel manicures.

There is even a kit you can use!

How to Remove Gel Nail Polish Without Acetone

Don’t have acetone? That’s no problem. Just soak your nails in warm water with a few drops of dish soap and a teaspoon of salt. According to the Ever After Guide, leave your hand submerged in the water for at least 20 minutes before peeling off the color. However, it is always recommended to moisturize after.

Soaking Method

Don’t have aluminum foil or cotton balls? Just soak your hands a bowl of acetone placed over a larger bowl of warm water and soak. This takes the longest, but it will get the job done. Pro tip: don’t microwave acetone because it is flammable. You should notice the gel polish peeling off after 20 to 30 minuntes. And again, don’t forget to moisturize!

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