How To Remove Shellac & Gel Nail Polishes


So you’ve treated yourself to some snazzy gel nails and they’ve been living on your nails for a few weeks and starting to look a little manky. You can go back to your nail tech and pay them to remove the polish for you or you can try this at home method using things you most likely already have lying around.

Backstory time – I’m not a huge fan of getting anything other than regular nail polish on my fingernails, years of acrylics turned them into a mess and it took me a long time to get them strong and looking nice again. However, for the wedding I decided I needed something with a bit of longevity, I’d be getting my hands dirty setting everything up and after this type of work my nails would generally be chip city so I decided to get a shellac manicure. Where you see the nails below was at the almost 4 week mark and they were ready to be removed.

Side Note: I actually always get my toes done in shellac when I get a pedicure but the nail tech removes them for me before they do my pedi.

This method also works for removing pesky glitter polish as well.

shellac-gel-nailsYou’ll need the following items to remove the polish –

  • Pure Acetone (I buy 1L bottles of this from Bunnings for around $10 and then decant it into a smaller container).
  • Aluminium Foil
  • Cotton Wool or Cotton Pads
  • Cuticle stick

step1-aceton-gel-shellac-nailsStep 1 – Cover cotton ball in acetone. Make sure you get a good amount of aceton on the cotton ball, it needs to cover the nail completely.

aluminium-foil-gel-shellac-nailsStep 2 – Put the acetone soaked cotton ball on your nail and then cover your nail in the aluminium foil. I cut long pieces so I can wrap it around and try and pinch it at the bottom so it stays put.

step23-al-foil-shellac-gel-nailsStep 3 – The longer you leave it the better, but just remember acetone isn’t fantastic for the skin around your nails┬áso you’ll end up a bit dry and will need a good handcream application at the end. I usually watch a couple of YouTube videos or scare my dogs with my weird looking fingers.

step4-shellac-gel-removalStep 4 – The acetone on cotton bud won’t alone remove all of the polish so you’ll need to carefully use your cuticle stick to remove any left over polish. The polish will have softened so it’s quite easy to do but does require a little bit of elbow grease. This is oddly satisfying like ripping off a Biore Nose Strip or something.

step5-shellac-gel-removal-revitanail-orlyStep 5 – Now the polish has been removed, your nails are going to be hating you right now. Give them a little TLC and add a good strengthening treatment. I went with 2, I first added the Revitanail Keratin Strengthening Treatment to all of my nails and followed it up with a coat of Orly Nail Defense.

Try and keep up the TLC for a week or so after to get the nail beds back to a happy state.

gel-shellac-removal-finishedThere you have it, the polish has been removed. My nails are not in the greatest condition and i’m going to stop myself from adding any polish for a week or so and just continue with the strengthening products.