The Application and Removal of Gel Nail Polish

Learn how to apply and remove gel polish.

Photo: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

By now, there's a good chance you've heard of gel nail polish. Gel polish lasts way longer than regular polish. In fact, its manufacturers tout it as a chip-free manicure. Once it's applied it, gel nail polish stays in place until you're sick of it. Learn how a gel polish is applied and removed before you visit your local nail salon.

Getting It On

A gel manicure uses a soft dry acrylic. It's painted on your nails and dried under a UV lamp, basically bonding the gel to your nail, making your manicure virtually indestructible. This is all well and good until you have to take your mani off. That's going to be just a little bit trickier.

Getting It Off: The Basics

Removing gel nail polish is much more involved than taking off regular polish so make sure you stock up on all the materials you'll need before you start. Get yourself a bottle of polish remover that contains acetone. You'll also need aluminum foil, a hoof stick -- those wooden sticks your manicurist uses to push back your cuticles -- a cuticle cream, a hand cream and a nail buffer.

The Details

Tear off your aluminum foil into 10 squares. Soak a cotton ball in acetone. Place it on your nail and wrap your first aluminum foil piece around your finger so that your acetone-soaked cotton ball is placed firmly directly over your fingernail. Repeat these steps on all fingers. You'll have to be patient. It'll take about 10 to 15 minutes of soaking to get your gel to dissolve. So, watch TV or do something else that doesn't involve using your fingers to pass the time. After 10 to 15 minutes have passed, remove all your foils. Now, take your huff stick and use it to scrape off your gel. If there's some that's a little tough to scrape off, don't push it. Just put another cotton swab on your nail and let it soak for a few more minutes.

Finishing Up

All that sitting in acetone will make your nails look a little dull, so now it's time to give them some TLC. Buff your nails to give them a good shine. Then, apply a bit of cuticle cream to each cuticle, rubbing it in to soften your cuticles well. Finish off with hand cream and you're all set.

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