How to remove your gels safely without damaging your nails in four easy steps

(Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you treated yourself to a shiny new set of gels just before the lockdown came into place, chances are they’re starting to look a little shabby by now.

With nipping to the salon for a speedy soak off no longer an option, resist the urge to pick or nibble at your gels, and instead remove them carefully at home.

We’ve enlisted the help of ORLY UK Ambassador Lou Stoeks to help you soak off like a pro…

How to remove gel nails at home

Step 1

Lightly file over the gel polish with an emery board, gently removing the acetone-resistant layer of your topcoat. This will allow the remover to directly penetrate the gel polish for easy removal.

Step 2

Next, you need to wrap the nails one by one. Splash out on Orly GelX Foil Remover Wraps (£19.40 for 100) or make your own with cotton pads cut into little nail-sized squares and small pieces of tin foil. Soak the absorbent pad in acetone-based nail polish remover and wrap the foil around the finger. The foil will heat up the remover, working as a catalyst to speed and ease the removal process.

SHOP NOW: Orly GelX Remover Wraps, £19.40 for 100

Step 3

After 10 minutes, unwrap one nail to see if the polish has started to lift. If it has, work one nail at a time to remove with a metal cuticle pusher or stick. Smooth the pusher across the nail until it’s clean and polish free.

SHOP NOW: Orly Cuticle Pusher, £15

Step 4

To finish off, apply a cuticle oil to re-hydrate nails and improve their appearance. Orly Cuticle Oil (£7.85) is brilliant.

SHOP NOW: Orly Cuticle Oil, £7.85

Best at home gel nail remover kits to try

Don’t have any acetone-based remover in your bathroom? Order one of these kits to shift stubborn gels in minutes…

Stylfile Polish Remover Kit

Created by Apprentice alumni and inventor Tom Pellereau, Stylfile’s kit makes light work of gel nails. The handy clips help keep your foil wraps in place, while the generous bottle of remover lasts for ages.

SHOP NOW: Stylfile Polish Remover Kit, £11.99, Argos

Nails Inc Gel-less

Working one hand at a time, just dip and twist your fingers into the pot. Lined with pre-saturated sponges, it gets to work fast, dissolving polish pronto.

SHOP NOW: Nails Inc Gel-less Super Speedy Gel Manicure Remover Kit, £15

Jess Beech

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is currently Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. 


She caught the magazine bug during a stint as Fashion Editor of her university newspaper alongside her English degree, and hasn’t looked back since. As for the fashion bug, that came as part and parcel of growing up in the 90s, but the less said about that the better!


Jess’ average day in the office is spent researching the latest fashion trends, chatting to industry tastemakers and scouring the internet to bring you this season’s must-buy pieces - as well as advice on how to wear them. Weekends are equally fashion-focused, and Jess has been known to visit no less than five Zara stores in a single day in search of the perfect occasion dress. 


The only thing that comes close to a buzz of finally tracking down that much-coveted dress is the joy of discovering a new beauty wonder product or hero ingredient. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.