How to file down gel nails at home

How to file down gel nails at home

K, don’t @ me, but I was today years old when I found out you can actually get the perfect gel nails at home. Like, sure, the nail salon is, and always will be, one of my happy places, but I kinda love knowing that I can DIY my gel manicure if/when I need to. So if doing your own gels has always been on your bucket list like it used to be on mine, you’ve come to the right place. Ahead, YouTuber Gabby Morris breaks down everything you need to know to do gel nails at home, including the best supplies (spoiler: you’re definitely going to need an LED or UV lamp), the easiest way to keep your cuticles from drying out, and so much more.

Keep scrolling for all the tips, tricks, and products that’ll help you create the mani of your dreams at home.

Is it worth doing gel nails at home?

How to file down gel nails at home

Well, that depends on what you’re looking to get out of the process. One of the best things about doing your own gel nails at home is that it’s cheaper than going to the salon —especially if you get them regularly. Professional gel manicures usually start at $35 (and can definitely go up from there), whereas DIY kits start can cost anywhere from $30 (like the Vishine Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit) to $80 (like the Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit) and can be used as frequently as you like.

That said, if you’re a total newb when it comes to painting and filing your nails, you might want to leave your gel manis to the pros, since the process does require a steady hand and a decent amount of patience.

What do you need for gel nails at home?

Before you attempt an at-home gel mani, you need to make sure you have the right supplies. You’ve got two options: You can buy a gel nail kit online, or you can buy all the pieces separately. You’ll need a UV or LED lamp, a cuticle oil, a nail buff, a top coat, a base coat, and gel nail polish to get started. BTW: While you technically could use a regular nail polish and a gel top coat, I’d recommend staying on the safe side and opting for gel nail polish. Regular polish won’t last as long as gel, even if you use a gel top coat.

How to file down gel nails at home

Is your gel completely grown out? We hear you. With salons temporarily closed, we’re sharing ways you can take care of your nails at home. We’ve already talked about how you can remove your gel mani all on your own, but if you find yourself wanting to hold onto what’s left of your gel, we’ve got tips on how you can give it new life.

Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t suggest a DIY solution, but since we’re figuring out this new normal with you, we chatted with one of our OPI Pros, Rosanne Sollecito, to come up with two ways you can revamp your nails: shortening them or growing them out in style. Let’s start with how you can shorten your gel mani, and if you’re an OPI Pro, stay tuned because we’ve got some helpful tips for you at the end of this blog.

What You’ll Need:
-Buffer
-Nail file
-Nail Lacquer or Infinite Shine shades for nail art

How to file down gel nails at home

Start by filing your nail in the same angle as the shape you already have established, and be sure to keep the nail file parallel. Pro tip: flip your hand around to be able to see from different angles so the shape remains correct! This helps especially for those with almond and round shaped nails.

Next, file the sides of the nail, this time keeping the file parallel to the edge of the nail bed. Round off any corners slightly to help smooth out the overall shape. When you’re done, use the buffer to smooth out the very edge of the nail on the surface – angling the buffer down helps create a softer edge. Be sure to check out @missrosanne for the step-by-step on Instagram.

How to file down gel nails at home

It’s important to note that any clipping or cutting of gel nail polish can result in a broken seal or cracked gel, and the possibility for water and other bacteria to spread underneath a trapped nail surface becomes much more likely. If this happens, we suggest you remove your gel nails. Read our latest blog on how to safely remove your gel nail polish manicure at home until you can get back into your favorite nail salon.

Once you’ve smoothed out your nail surface based on the above information and have set a good foundation to better manage your grow-out, grab your favorite Nail Lacquer shades and read on for some fun DIY ways to disguise your manicure grow out!

All good things must eventually come to an end, including your favorite manicure. The removal process can prove just as important as polish application, particularly when it comes to ensuring the health of your nails. In case your favorite salon is booked up or you’re considering a DIY removal, here’s how to remove gel and dip powder nails without sacrificing the quality of your nails.

Before you begin, the most important thing to consider when pondering a DIY removal is whether you have the patience for the task. Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist and founder of Deborah Lippmann, noted that although you will need some tools, you’ll also need to take your time. Removing your gel and powder nails should’t be done in a hurry, and it is likely that you may have to repeat some steps or be precise with your removal technique. Ultimately though, with patience comes off a payoff, and you’ll find that with a little time, removing your nails at home is relatively simple.

How To Remove Your Gel Nails At Home

Be Sure Your Nails Are Ready

Before you even begin considering the removal of your gel nails, Sally Hansen ambassador Hannah Lee, tells NYLON that you should first make sure your gel is ready for removal, noting that gel can usually last for two weeks. If you notice nail growth or that your gel has lifted, that’s a signal that your polish is ready for removal. She specifically suggested looking out for lifting, saying, "That allows for moisture to get under the gel and possibly create bacterial growth."

Gather Your Tools

According to Molly Romah, lead nail tech at Chillhouse, you’ll want to begin by ensuring you have everything needed for removal. For gel nails, she recommends having pure acetone, cotton, a nail file and aluminum foil. As an added bonus, you may also want to make sure your Netflix is nearby, as the soaking process may seem to go a lot faster when you have something to watch.

Time To File And Soak

According to Lee, you’ll want begin the process by using a coarse nail file to carefully, and slowly, file down the top layer of gel. "You want to focus on removing the top coat and not the actual polish, so make sure to do this slowly," she added.

Once the top layer is removed, apply a layer of cuticle oil to your nails. The oil will help prevent some of the drying caused by acetone, which you’ll use to soak your nails in. While some soak their nails in a bowl of acetone, Lee has another efficient idea. "The best way is to soak a cotton ball in acetone then place it on top of the nail. Then, you can cut strips of aluminum foil to wrap the cotton ball around the finger for a secure hold."

Soak your nails for about 15 minutes and then check on the progress. "The gel polish should look as if it is falling off the nail and lifted," Romah said. "The remaining polish should be able to be removed with little to no pressure. If not, go back and soak for another five minutes and try again."

After the removal process, your nails will be a little dry, but it’s not cause for concern. "Acetone removes oils from the nail, but it doesn’t actually damage the nail bed," Romah said. She suggested applying another coat of cuticle oil or coconut oil, and then you may want to apply some nail strengthener or top coat to give your nails a healthy break until your next manicure appointment.

How To Remove Your Dip Powder Nails At Home

Similar to the longevity of gel nails, dip powder nails will last roughly two to three weeks, Darlene Sritapan, OPI North America Education & Capability Manager, tells NYLON. Although the safest method of removal will always be with the help of a nail technician, Sritapan shared her tips for at home removal, noting that when dip powder nails are left on too long, lifting becomes present, and moisture can great trapped, leading to bacteria in the nail. In order to prevent that from happening, you’ll need some tools and time.

Get the Cotton Balls — And Other Tools —Ready

According to Sritapan, you need the following items for removal: cotton balls or pads, an acetone based nail polish removal, aluminum foil cut into squares, a nail file, buffer, cuticle oil, and a nail strengthening solution.

Once you have your materials, begin filing the nail. However, you don’t want to file down until you see the natural nail, Sritapan said. Rather, you should still see some color. The key is to file away as much of the powder as you can without damaging the nail.

Wrap It Up

After filing is complete, you’ll want to soak a cotton ball in the nail polish remove. Then, place the cotton ball on top of your nail, and wrap the cotton ball and your nail in foil. According to Sritapan, you should soak for at least 20 to 25 minutes, and for even better penetration, she suggested wrapping your hand in a warm towel.

After the allotted time has passed, you can remove the foil and cotton ball, but you want to go slowly and gently. Do not remove the foil from all ten fingers at once, rather do one nail at a time so as to prevent re-hardening of the powder. "The cotton ball or pad should have a gummy residue attached to it. If there is residue left on the nail, take your file and gently roll the gummy feeling dip/acrylic off the nail. Repeat this step on the remaining fingers," Sritapan said.

Clean And Care For Your Nails

After you’ve properly removed all residue from the nail, you can gently cleanse the nail of any remaining product with a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover. Then, lightly buff the nails and apply your favorite nail strengthener or cuticle oil as Sritapan said this will help your nails to "stay as healthy as possible until your next visit to the salon."

To make the process even smoother, grab some of the tools recommended for removing gel and powder nails, below.

Sephora Crystal Nail File

Sephora, Crystal Nail File, $10, available at Sephora.

This crystal nail file was made for serious wear and tear, especially when it comes to helping you prepare to remove your gel nails.

Sally Hanson Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil

Sally Hansen, Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil, $6.49, available at Ulta.

Care for your nails before and after removing polish with this cuticle oil.

Ulta Beauty 100% Maximum Strength Acetone

Ulta, 100% Maximum Strength Acetone, $1.69, available at Ulta.

Acetone is a must-have for getting rid of gel and powder nails.

OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener

OPI, Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, $17.95, available at Amazon.

Apply this nail strengthener as the final step in your removal routine.

Barefoot Scientist Inner Strength Nail and Cuticle Renewal Drops

Barefoot Scientist, Inner Strength Nail & Cuticle Renewal Drops, $20, available at Ulta.

After putting your nails through filing, buffing, and soaking, these strengthening drops will act as the perfect pick-me-up.

French Girl Cuticle Oil

Chillhouse, French Girl Cuticle Oil, $22, available at Chillhouse.

Featuring a rollerball application, this cuticle oil is easy to apply after removing polish.

We only include products that have been independently selected by NYLON’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Long, strong, stunningly manicured nails are a dream, and gel nails help achieve that beauty standard. Though gel nails are not harmful to nails themselves, the removal process of the gel does weaken the nail beds. Where acrylics are simply a solvent-laden powder designed to reinforce the top layer of nails, gels are made firm using UV or LED light. Both temporarily make nails strong, but may ultimately damage. With a little care, gel nails can be enjoyed without permanently damaging nail beds, even without a regular trip to the nail salon.

Watch the Manicurist

Gels can be cared for at home, but a salon visit is a treat from time to time in order to freshen a manicure. Two tips in particular will help keep nails healthy without foregoing the strong, colorful polish. Watch how the manicurist removes gels to ensure the nail beds are not scrubbed vigorously. Gel nails should easily lift up after the solution is applied. Skip cutting the cuticles as well to avoid infection.

Cut Gel Nails at Home

To trim up nails at home, thoroughly wash hands and cleanse nail tools like clippers with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Allow nail clippers to completely dry before use. Cut each nail the appropriate length straight across. Follow with an electric nail file at a 45-degree angle in order to smooth the blunt cut into a softer shape. This technique will also help the nail and corners stay strong and minimize breaks. If the cut nail has lost its natural arch, use a nonelectric file to create and mimic the arch. File the sides, and, to keep the bed strong, avoid the edge and corners.

Remove at Home

Gels can also be removed without trouble at home. Home removal kits are available at beauty supply stores, but only a bottle of salon-grade 100 percent acetone or gel remover is needed. This type of acetone is less stringent than the pure stuff. Using a remover-soaked cotton ball or pad, place one on each nail. Wrap the individual nails in aluminum foil, then wrap the hand in a towel. Allow to sit until the gel nail is crumbling or slides off. This may take 15 minutes and up to an hour. Be very careful not to file, scrape or scrub the nail bed. The remover should set until the gel nail can be easily pushed away with a rubber-tipped cuticle pusher.

If purchasing a home kit, avoid harmful, carcinogenic chemicals such as dibutyl, phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Keep nails hydrated with or without gel nails. Cuticle oil and cuticle moisturizers help keep nail beds strong and healthy.

How to file down gel nails at home

Is your gel completely grown out? We hear you. With salons temporarily closed, we’re sharing ways you can take care of your nails at home. A few days ago, we talked about how you can remove your gel mani all on your own, but if you find yourself wanting to hold onto what’s left of your gel, we’ve got tips on how you can give it new life.

Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t suggest a DIY solution, but since we’re figuring out this new normal with you, we chatted with one of our OPI Pros, Rosanne Sollecito, to come up with two ways you can revamp your nails: shortening them or growing them out in style. Let’s start with how you can shorten your gel mani…

How to file down gel nails at home

How to Shorten Gel Nails

Start by filing your nail in the same angle as the shape you already have established, and be sure to keep the nail file parallel. Pro tip: flip your hand around to be able to see from different angles so the shape remains correct! This helps especially for those with almond and round shaped nails.

Next, file the sides of the nail, this time keeping the file parallel to the edge of the nail bed. Round off any corners slightly to help smooth out the overall shape. When you’re done, use the buffer to smooth out the very edge of the nail on the surface – angling the buffer down helps create a softer edge. Be sure to check out @missrosanne for the step-by-step on Instagram.

How to file down gel nails at home

It’s important to note that any clipping or cutting of gel nail polish can result in a broken seal or cracked gel, and the possibility for water and other bacteria to spread underneath a trapped nail surface becomes much more likely. If this happens, we suggest you remove your gel nails. Read our latest blog on how to safely remove your gel nail polish manicure at home until you can get back into your favourite nail salon.

You suffer from thick fungal toenails and they are constantly snagging on your socks or pantyhose. You are embarrassed by the thick toenails but have neither the desire nor the money to go to a Podiatrist. Can you grind a thick fungal toenail yourself? The answer is yes and it is not that hard. This webpage will discuss the tools and technique necessary to grind and trim your own fungal toenails.

To begin with, for extremely fungal toenails, it is easier if you use a nail nipper to take some of the thickness down. What you would do is angle the toenail nipper in at an angle and trim a little of the thickness of the toenail out at a time. This is the type of nail trimmer you will need to accomplish this task.

Before beginning it may be a good idea to soak your toenail to soften it up. This will make the trimming and grinding easier. Now, if you did the step above, your toenail maybe jagged or if you want to get straight to the grinding, you need a toenail grinder. What you need is just a basic the toenail grinder, a dremel. Just get a base model as you will be doing this at most four to five times a year. Fungal nails do not grow that fast. You do not need any of the fancy bells and whistles. Here is an example of the model you need:

Now you need to get some burrs. The burr below is the type of burr you want if you have an extremely thick toenail. This burr is aggressive so be careful and start out small at first.

Here is a burr for moderate thick toenails. This one is easy and will not grind a lot quickly but will get the job done.

As for how to grind your own thick toenail, I have embedded a video above. As you can see it is rather easy.

Although many nail salons are reopening these days, lots of girls are keen to DIY nails at home to prevent infections when visiting the nail salon. As a newcomer to the manicure industry, poly gel popularity has dramatically increased. More and more people would like to choose polygel to create pretty and unique nail designs. On the one hand, poly gel inherits the advantages of both hard gel and acrylic, such as strength, flexibility and durability and so on. On the other hand, it is easy to use and great for nail beginners to make at home. However, we should master not only how to use it, but also how to get it off, so the effective measures of how to remove it are very important too.

Getting poly gel off can be quite a challenge by your own at home if you don’t know how to remove it properly. But no worry, we are here to help you how to get poly gel nail extensions off easily.

How to Remove Polygel Nails

There are several ways to remove poly gel nails and today, we will introduce three main processes to get poly gel off easily at home. All of the following ways need to trim nail extensions with a nail clipper.

1. Remove Polygel with Nail Polish Removal Wraps

Step 1: Cutting the nail length with a nail cutter

Step 2: File the nail surface and wipe out the coat

Step 3: Open the removal wrap and use the foil wrap the top of the finger tightly. The less air you let inside, the quicker the polygel gets loosened.

Step 4: Soak the nail for 10 minutes.

Step 5: Gently scrape off the poly gel with the cuticle pusher.

Step 6: Buff your nails after peeling off the poly gel.

2. Remove Polygel Extension with Nail File

Step 1: Trim your nail extension

Step 2: File the nail surface with a 100 to 180-grade nail filer until remove the polygel from your nails

Step 3: Remove the excess dust to reveal your natural nails.

3. Remove Polygel with E-file

This process needs a 180 grit nail file, if you always do poly gel nails or regularly change your nail design, it’s a perfect choice to remove your nails. The e-file will definitely save you a lot of time and work.

Step 1: Remove excess nail length with a nail clipper, and if you want to keep a little more of your natural nails, it’s entirely up to yourself.

Step 2: Use the e-file which should be set at a low speed to remove the poly gel layer away from your natural nails, please be careful when you use the e-file. Your nails look hard but are actually fragile, so don’t hurt your nails, or even leave a little poly gel on the top of your nails, which can also be helpful with the next care.

Step 3: Clean the left poly gel on your nails with the 180 grit file, be gently or your nails will be hurt.

Step 4: The above uses a rougher way to remove most of the polygel, then please use buffing cubes to polish the nail surface so that it’s convenient to care for your nails in the next steps.

Step 5: Apply some cuticle oil to your nails to keep your nails smooth and bright and it’s also helpful to repair your nails.

These processes are quite easy if you master the methods, you can prepare the tools so that you can deal with your nails whenever you like. However, I have to remind you that be careful when you use e-file, because your nails should be healthy so that you can make them beautiful.

If you think our nail drill machine VT202241 are so professional, please don’t worry, we also have E-file for beginners, t he weight of this mini nail drill pen is 58g. Compact and fashionable design is easy to carry. Handle with LED lighting, grinding nails or removing gel nail polish wherever and whenever. Now the nail drill pen is on sale, 50% off, $36.99 only.

With social distancing in full effect, booking a trip the salon to remove your gel nail polish will have to wait until it's safe to do so. That means (quite literally) it's time to take such matters into your own hands.

The temptation to pick, rip, or bite off the polish is usually the first at-home "solution" that comes to mind. It's a strong (and weirdly satisfying) urge, but resist it. "When you peel off your polish, you also take off layers of your nail bed with it, which leaves them susceptible to peeling and breaking," Jackie Saulsbery, New York City-based manicurist, tells Allure.

The good news is you can remove a gel manicure at home without going to the salon — and without damaging your nails. "The best way to safely remove your gel polish does take a bit of time and patience, but it will help to keep your nails in good shape," Saulsbery says. Here, we talked to the nail experts about how to remove your gel polish at home without totally wrecking your nails.

Find a Well-Ventilated Space

Give yourself plenty of time for the removal process and most importantly, do it in a well-ventilated area so you're not breathing in all that acetone, says nail expert Jenna Hipp. The process can't really be done in a rush — you'll need about 30 minutes. (Consider this a good time to catch up on your Netflix queue.)

Break Out the Nail File

Before you break out the nail polish remover, grab a coarse nail file (Saulsbery likes the Hand and Nail Harmony 180/180 File) and gently and slowly sand down the top layer of polish.

The point here is not to sand all the polish off. You're really just roughing up the topcoat, so take it slow. "Avoid filing too far into the color. Basically, you just want to remove the shine," says Hipp.

Protect Your Skin

Next, coat the skin surrounding your nails and fingertips with a cuticle oil or a thick cream. "This will provide protection from the acetone, which is very drying to your skin," says celebrity manicurist Tracylee. We like CND Solar Oil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner (and, bonus, this formula smells like an almond cookie). Olive & June's Cuticle Serum is another Allure favorite.

Soak Some Cotton Balls

The key to removing gel polish is to soak your fingertips in acetone. You can do this in a small bowl filled with acetone and a drop or two of cuticle oil, Saulsbery says, or you can use a soaked cotton ball on each nail.

Tracylee prefers cotton balls to pads because they're closer to your nails' size and shape. Plus, cotton balls are able to hold on to the acetone better as your nails soak. "Cotton pads can absorb the acetone and dry out too quickly," she explains.

Saturate the cotton balls with acetone — more than you think you need. For the best results, Tracylee recommends steering clear of formulas with moisturizing ingredients (even though they're tempting) since they tend to slow down the process, leaving your fingers soaking for a longer amount of time.

Wrap Your Fingertips with Aluminum Foil

Grab some Reynolds Wrap or any brand of foil and tear it into squares about three inches by three inches. (You can do this beforehand.) Then wrap your fingertips in the squares. "Place an acetone-soaked cotton ball on your pinkie nail and use the foil to secure the cotton ball in place," says Tracylee. "Start with your non-dominant hand — it makes things easier."

Repeat this on all 10 nails. (Warning: It will get a little tricky by the end of the process when most of your tips are covered in tin foil.) After 10 or 15 minutes, check your progress.

"The gel polish should look as if it is falling off the nail and lifted," Saulsbery says. "The remaining polish should be able to be removed with little to no pressure — if not, go back to soaking for another five minutes and try again."

Apply a Little Elbow Grease

Once all the gel nail polish has loosened, pull the foil off of each finger and apply slight pressure to the nail with the cotton ball. For any remaining spots gently use a nail stick, "working under the gel to lift it off the nail plate," explains Hipp.

Pro tip: "Wooden tools can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so dispose of them after each use and don't share with friends," Hipp says.

If you don't have a stick around and want to use something else, like this popular TikTok dental floss hack, be very, very careful, warns manicurist and owner of New York City's Jinsoon Spas and Nail Lacquer Jin Soon Choi.

"The only time gel can be removed with dental floss is after the edges of the polish have lifted off the nail bed, but it must be done with great care," she says. "The risk of using floss too vigorously is pulling off not only the gel polish but part of your actual nail as well."

If the polish still isn't lifting easily when you press your tool into it, you need more soaking. Rewrap the nail with a new cotton ball and try again in five minutes.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

After a long acetone adventure, your nails will likely be a bit dry. Give them a reprieve. "Soak your nails in coconut oil for five to seven minutes, then apply a cuticle oil, such as Ciaté's Marula Cuticle Oil, on your nail beds to rejuvenate and rehydrate them," says Choi. To finish, she recommends a hand lotion like L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream.

It might seem like you're using a lot of moisture-sucking acetone, but if you're a fan of gel manis it's much better than picking or peeling your polish, Saulsbury says. "Acetone removes oils from the nail, but it doesn't actually damage the nail bed," she explains. "That happens when the nail bed endures trauma from peeling and pushing the polish off," which can leave you with brittle, broken nails.

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

For more on gel manicures:

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