Gel Nail Polish Removal: Long Lasting Shellac Manicure for Natural Nails – Photos & Details

Monday, August 1st, 2011 | Nail Polish, Photos, Product Testing

Meilily Photos & Swatches: Shellac Gel Manicure Removal: After Week 3!

Concluding the first ever Meilily gel manicure photo and swatch series, which tracks one gel manicure over three weeks, this finale explains how to remove a gel manicure, at home, by yourself. It’s not pretty, folks, but it can be done!

The Meilily Guide to Removing Gel Polish at Home

They say you need to go to a salon to remove your gel manicure and, while it is true that there are special products for removing gel polish currently only available to salons, where salon removal consists of wrapping, soaking, and sliding the gel off, removal can also be done, perhaps less gracefully, at home.

Meilily Gel Manicure Removal DIY How-To:

1) Find the loose edges around the gel polish on each nail – By week 2 or 3 you should start to see a lot of nail growth and possibly a few loose edges on the gel polish. Identify the areas around the edge of the polish on each nail that you may be able to loosen.
2) Gently loosen the edges around the gel polish – Using a fingernail or nail tool, push up underneath any loose edges around the gel polish perimeter as much as possible, trying to keep the gel in one piece as you lift it away from your nail.  You should be able to do this without harming the natural nail, as the flexible gel polish layer sits nicely on top of the natural nail.
3) Slowly peel back the loosened edges on the polish- If you’re lucky, much of the polish will peel off in 1-3 pieces, exposing a textured dried-adhesive base layer atop the natural nail. For stubborn gel polish, you may have to do more scraping than peeling, which can leave the dried-adhesive base layer looking horrifically scraggly. Don’t fret! Just check out the next step!
4) Using nail polish remover or a smoothing nail file, remove the last traces of the gel manicure – If using remover, slowly remove the last traces of polish (ie. the base layer) using a cotton ball or towel soaked with remover, and rub until all gel layers are gone.  At this point it might feel like you’re removing a thick adhesive, but keep at it, and eventually the residue will come off and you’ll be left with just your natural nails again!

Note: Gel polishes such as the CND Shellac gel polish shown here are specially formulated* for removal with acetone-based removers, so it will likely be harder to remove a gel manicure yourself with a non-acetone remover (like the soy-based remover I use, by Priti NYC).

Before: Photo – Gel manicure at week 3 just before removal

meilily-gel-manicure-shellac-week3-before-removalYou can see loose edges on the gel polish in this photo.  Just grab, loosen, and peel!

Now here’s what gel polish looks like when you start actually peeling it away to remove it… This is an example of more stubborn gel polish that won’t peel off in one piece.
meilily-gel-manicure-shellac-self-removalHere you can see the texture on the base adhesive layer underneath the peeled-away gel polish.  Don’t worry, it’s not damage to the natural nail.

The hardest part of the at-home gel manicure removal process is probably removing the tacky adhesive base layer after peeling off the colored polish. If it helps, try soaking the nail polish first in acetone remover for 10-20 seconds so that the quick-release polymers in the base layer kick in.

*Check out this CND YouTube video explaining the science behind how CND Shellac Gel Polish works.

For more in this gel manicure series check out:
– Meilily Gel Manicure Day 1
– Meilily Gel Manicure Day 5
– Meilily Gel Manicure Week 3

What are your tips for gel polish removal?

Hope you enjoyed this Gel Manicure Removal How-To & Photos! from Meilily

© Copyright 2011 Meilily. All Rights Reserved.

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2 Comments to Gel Nail Polish Removal: Long Lasting Shellac Manicure for Natural Nails – Photos & Details

August 15, 2011

it is easy to remove gel polish at home, however this is not the way to do it! Even if you think you aren’t harming your natural nails this way, you are pulling off thin layers with that gel polish.

All you need is pure acetone, readily available at Sally Beauty Supply. Some Walmarts and drugstores like CVS and Walgreens are even carrying it now – it’s located with the other polish removers.

Some gel polishes (like Gelish) require you to LIGHTLY buff the topcoat so the acetone can penetrate. Saturate cotton balls in the acetone, set one on each nail, and wrap in tin foil for 10 minutes. Then you can GENTLY push off anything that’s left with an orangewood stick, and no harm done to your nails!

August 15, 2011

Thanks for the tips! I didn’t notice any damage to my natural nail with the DIY non-acetone method, just a sticky layer that removed w/ polish remover. However, acetone is definitely supposed to be the way to go, as it works with the chemistry of the gel.

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