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This is why you should never peel off your gel nails


by Erin Lindsay
28th Jan 2020

Peeling gel off may be satisfying, but it’s a death sentence for healthy nails. Keep them intact with this guide to properly removing them


We love a good manicure here at IMAGE. Long, polished claws are always a great accessory. But when you get a bad manicure, or when the gels just become too messy to handle, the temptation begins to pick, pick, pick. Peeling off your gel nails seems like the most satisfying thing in the world. Until you actually do it, and your fingertips feel like they’re going to fall off.

With the pain of peeling off gel polish, it shouldn’t be a surprise to discover it is not a good thing to do. It can ruin the health of your nails and have some nasty after-effects. As lovers of any type of pampering, we feel a responsibility to let all you ladies know the consequences, and what you can do to avoid ruining your nails in the long run.

What peeling off gel nails really does

When you peel off a gel manicure, you’re not just peeling off the polish. You’re peeling off the top few layers of the nails themselves. This can lead to cracking, brittle nails that, especially with repeated peeling, weaken over time. This causes irregular surfaces and textures on your nails, making them very dry and flaky. If you’re a serial peeler, you may have to take an extended break from manicures until your tips recover completely from the trauma.

How to properly remove a gel manicure

If you’ve been thinking of peeling off your expired gels but haven’t made the move yet, it’s your lucky day. DO NOT DO IT. There are other ways to remove the polish safely if you don’t fancy paying to get it done at the salon (no judgement here).

There are a few steps here: first up, soak the nails in acetone. You can use cotton pads or balls soaked in acetone and apply them to your nails, or just put some in a bowl and rest your fingertips in it. This will dissolve the gel so that it will be easier to remove.

A good alternative is to place the soaked cotton pads around your nails and wrap your fingers in tin foil. Leave for about 10-15 minutes and when removing the foil, pinch your nail as you do. The gel should slide off with the foil.

If you’ve already succumbed to the peeling

If you’ve been extremely bold and peeled off all your gels, now’s the time for damage control. Resist the temptation to head back to the salon and get a new set; instead, let them breathe and recover. Cut them down to size (it’s a better idea to have them short while they’re recovering) and buff them gently back to shape. Spend the next while hydrating them with a good cuticle oil and then move onto a nail strengthener if you feel you need to.

The final step is to repent for your sins and never peel those bad boys off again.


Read more: Liquid liner inspiration: The best Instagram how-tos

Read more: Travel insider: Celeb make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury shares her Ibiza hot spots

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