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soak off gel polish

How to Soak Off Gel Polish

Have you ever wondered how you can remove gel polish using the soak-off method like a professional? One of our brand ambassadors, Nicola Bishop, has put together this video which takes you through the process, step-by-step, here. But if you have ever wondered about the kind of thing we cover in our online or Face-to-Face Gel Nail Polish courses, we have explained Nicola’s method for you below. 

Removing gel nails can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done safely and efficiently. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to remove gel nail polish using the soak-off method.

Equipment you will need

You will need Acetone, Nail Files, Cuticle oil, nail clippers, tip cutters, a cuticle pusher, lukewarm water, and your soak-off dish.

And here’s the method:

Cut the length of the nails down

Use tip cutters but be careful as the blade needs to be towards you.  Please be careful not to cut the clients' fingers!

Remove the shine

Use a 100-grit nail file to remove the top coat. Put some pressure down to remove some of the bulk, saving the soaking process.

Soak in acetone

Pop the water into the holder of the soak-off pot. The water needs to be warm, and bath temperature as anything boiling can scold the client. Soak for 10 minutes.

Remove the nails

Remove any excess with a cuticle pusher. Be firm to remove all gel excess. Repeat the filing process, putting pressure on to remove any bulk.

Repeat soaking and scraping

Let the nails soak for 5-10 minutes. Repeat the soak-scrape process until most of the gel polish is off.

Finish with a file

Use a file to remove any remaining gel gently being careful not to damage the natural nail.

Watch out for the thumb

Thumbs usually take longer to get off, so continue the soaking process.

Be careful with nail plates

Make sure not to damage the nail plate whilst doing the removal process.

Electric file

If you have an electric file, use it to speed up the process as you can take off the bulk before soaking.

Keep the length

If a client wants to keep the length under their nails, ask them if they want their tips cut off before you do so to avoid cutting their lengths off.

Overall, taking your time and being patient when removing gel polish is key! Good luck!


We would only ever recommend trying any nail treatments if you are a trained professional. We hear from our clients, professional and nail technicians, about remedial treatments they have had to administer when their clients try to DIY a treatment like removing gel polish. If you are interested in becoming a qualified nail technician, please head over to our training site where you can choose from a huge range of courses, from an award-winning team in a format that works around you.