How to remove gel nail polish at home, according to Dua Lipa's nail artist

The no tears guide for how to remove gel nail polish without destroying your nails

How to remove gel nail polish
Dua Lipa
(Image credit: Getty Images / Alberto Pizzoli)

Two weeks of chip-free wear and glossy shine sets our pulses racing - until we get to the part when we're Googling 'how to remove gel nail polish.' 

Now that we’re in the throws of social distancing, booking a trip to the salon to remove your gel nails has been put on the back burner. 

And that means taking matters into your own hands (quite literally!). 

We get it, once the free edge around the cuticle starts to lift it takes every ounce of self control not to pick or rip it off. But do resist the urge, as it’s the major cause of damage to the nail bed underneath.

Ultimately, what goes on, must come off and we've hit up Michelle Humphrey, Dua Lipa's nail artist, to find out the best way to remove your gel manicure when it’s time to call it quits...

Break out the nail file

"Before you apply nail polisher remover, take a coarse nail file and gently sand down the very top layer of polish as this effectively breaks the seal," says Humphrey. "If you skip this stage you'll find removal a nightmare!"

how to remove gel nail polish Harmony Gelish 180/180 Grit Nail File, $5.85, Amazon

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Hydrate your skin 

"Next, coat the skin surrounding your nails with cuticle oil to prevent dehydration from the acetone in the polish remover. I love Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil as its thick formula really nourishes nails."

how to remove gel nail polish Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil (2- pack), $10.99, Amazon

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Soak some cotton pads or balls

While the pros use remover wraps that already have built-in cotton pads, this is when your DIY skills are put to good use. Cut some aluminum foil into squares big enough to cover the nail tips. "Place a  cotton pad, cut in half and soaked in acetone or gel remover, in the middle of the aluminum foil," Humphrey says.

how to remove gel nail polish OPI Expert Touch Lacquer Remover, $5.95, Ulta

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Wrap your fingertips in aluminum foil

Wrap your fingertips in the aluminum squares, making sure the cotton pad is secured against the nail. Then wait 10 or 15 minutes.

Hurry things along a bit

"Gently push any gel that's come loose off the nail plate using an orange wood stick," explains Humphrey. "Never force it. If necessary, re-wrap and repeat on remaining polish, making sure you keep the cotton pad well-saturated in remover.  Expect this process to take 30-45 minutes and always do one hand at a time."

File, buff and hydrate (in that order)

Once all the gel has been removed, Humphrey recommends you gently file nails into your desired shape and buff the surface into a smooth, glossy shell. Then drench them in moisture with another layer of cuticle oil. 

how to remove gel nail polish Elegant Touch Professional Buffer, $10.60, Lookfantastic

(Image credit: Lookfantastic)

Brush on a nail strengthener

"Nail Strengthener is optional after removal, but great for when you’re having a break from gels," adds Humphrey who recommends OPI's Nail Envy Sensitive & Peeling Formula Nail Strengthener.  "Just ensure the nail is wiped clean of any excess cuticle oil first." 

how to remove gel nail polish OPI Nail Envy Sensitive & Peeling Formula Nail Strengthener, $27.30, Lookfantastic

(Image credit: Lookfantastic)

Et voila, not a single brittle, broken nail in sight.

Let us know how you get on and share your results over on Instagram