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How to Take Off Gel Nails Without Acetone

How to Take Off Gel Nails Without Acetone

In an ideal world, we would all have the time to go to the salon for a gel manicure and pedicure. However, in the real world, many of us are short on time (or money). This is why it's important to know how to take off gel nail polish minus the acetone. Acetone can be quite abrasive and damaging to our nails, so using an alternative method is definitely preferable. In this article, we will cover what acetone is, why you might not want to use it, and detail various step-by-step methods for removing gel nail polish without it. Let's get started!

What is Acetone?

First up, what exactly is acetone? Acetone is a solvent that is commonly used in nail polish removers, as it helps remove the gel from your nails. It can be quite harsh and can potentially dry skin (though it shouldn't really come into contact with skin), so using an alternative method may be preferable if you love gel nails but are worried about exposure to acetone.

Why Wouldn’t You Use Acetone?

There are several reasons why you might prefer to remove gel polish without acetone. For starters, as mentioned previously, it can be quite harsh and dry on the skin. Additionally, if you have acrylic nails, you should not use acetone to remove them as it will damage the nails. You would also want to avoid using acetone if you are already experiencing any sort of nail damage or nail discolouration.



The kit you will need to remove gel nails without acetone

In this piece, we'll explore three different methods for removing gel polish at home without acetone. Namely, filing, soaking, and peeling. So here's what you will need for each different method:


  • Regular or metal nail file
  • Nail buffer
  • Cuticle oil


  • Bowl of warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Salt
  • Towel
  • File
  • Cuticle oil


  • Nail file
  • Tweezers
  • Cuticle stick
  • Cuticle oil

Method 1: Soaking Off Gel Nails With Water, Soap, and Salt

Add warm water, dish soap, and salt to a bowl

Fill a bowl with warm water, dish soap, and salt.

Use a small bowl that will be big enough to submerge one or both hands.

Add a couple of drops of dish soap and a teaspoon of salt to the bowl.

Ensure the water is warm else it won't remove the gel polish. If the water cools during the process be sure to add more warm water to the bowl.

Soak your nails

Put your hand in the water so that all your nails are covered. Keep your fingers still for 15-20 minutes.

Dry your nails

Remove your nails from the water and dry them with a clean towel. Some of the gel polish may start to crack or peel off. If the soak hasn't loosened the nails, you can repeat the process or file or peel them off.

Peel or file your nails

Gel nails can now be removed in two ways: peeling them off or filing them down. If you choose to file them, make sure that your nails are completely dry before you start.


Method 2: Peeling Off Gel Nails

Lift the gel nail

If your gel nails are already chipped, peeling them off will be a breeze. To remove your gel nails, first, find a loose spot and gently lift it with either your fingernail or a tweezer. If you give the nail about a week to grow out before peeling them off, you’ll minimise the harm done to your natural nails.

Place your finger under warm running water

Place your finger under warm running water. Then, use your free hand to gently push the gel nail off your natural nail. Go slowly to avoid damaging your natural nail.

Use Olive oil or cuticle oil

If you find it difficult to remove your gel nail using running water, olive oil or cuticle oil can be used as an alternative. Apply the oil on both the gel and your fingernail which will act as a pusher. Gently push until the nail comes off then reapply more oil if needed.



Buff your nails

After you safely remove the gel nail, there is a possibility that some gel residue will still be left over on your fingernail. To dry the nail, use a soft cloth and then proceed to buff off the rest of the residue by using gentle back-and-forth movements with a file.

Apply cuticle oil

Keep your nails healthy by regularly applying cuticle oil.

Method 3: Filing Off Gel Nails

Trim the nail

The first thing you should do is cut your nails as short as possible. This will make it so there is less area that you have to file down. If your nails are too thick to cut with a nail clipper, use the coarse side of your nail file to make them thinner until they can be clipped off.

File the surface of your nails using a coarse grit nail file

Use a nail file with coarse grit to file your nails in a crosshatch pattern. Move the file around your nail slowly so you don't damage the natural nail underneath. Wipe away any dust that collects on your nail as you file. A metal nail file will help you do this step much faster.

File the surface of your nails using a fine grit nail file

When you see your natural nail, switch to the fine side of the file. Keep filing until you see your natural nail. Then stop. Carefully file off the remaining gel with the fine grit side. You will know you are close to the natural nail when there is less dust or you start to see the ridges of your nail.

Buff your nails and use cuticle oil

It is important to keep your nails moisturised after removing gel polish. This will help to keep your nails healthy and strong. Now try using a nail buffer on your nails to keep them clean and smooth. Add cuticle oil to help nourish your nails. Filing off gel nails will cause some damage to natural nails, so buffing and conditioning are key steps in the process.

Questions Customers Ask

So those are three methods for how to take off gel nails without acetone. So what else do you need to know? Here are some facts, myths, and myth-busters.

Is it harmful to your nails to use nail gel?

No. Gel nails, when applied correctly, are actually quite healthy for your nails. In fact, gel polish helps protect the natural nail from damage and can even help strengthen weak or brittle nails. However, it is important to never use acetone-based removers on your nails, as this can cause severe damage.

What is acetone actually made from?

Acetone is a colourless, flammable liquid that is derived from petroleum and coal tar sources. It can be quite harsh on the nails and skin so it should always be used with caution. However, when used correctly acetone is not harmful to nails.

When was acetone invented?

Acetone was first created by the chemist Andreas Libavius in 1606 and has been used ever since.

What was used to remove nail polish before acetone?

Before the mass manufacture of acetone, nail polish removers were made from ingredients like turpentine or even petrol. These ingredients can be highly toxic and flammable, so it's a good thing acetone is now the preferred choice for nail polish removal!

Is nail gel ok to use if you have sensitive skin?

Yes. Gel nails are actually the best choice for people with sensitive skin as they don't contain any harsh chemicals or irritants. If you have particularly sensitive skin, you should always consult your doctor before using gel polish or acetone-based removers.

We hope this article has been useful in helping you learn how to take off gel nails without acetone. By following these simple steps, you can keep your nails healthy and looking great. So why not give it a try? And if you want to become a true nail technician professional be sure to check out our courses here.

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