A step-by-step guide to removing gel nails at home

The latest coronavirus lockdown rulings mean nail salons are closed. But before you pick at your manicure and ruin your nails, read this.

We’ve been self-isolating and social distancing for what feels like forever. If the anxiety has you picking at your manicure and asking yourself why you even got Shellac in the first place, you’re not alone.

Unfortunately the latest lockdown rules mean beauty services like nail salons have been forced to close in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. So that half-picked-at mani you’ve been sporting is now more desperate than ever to be removed.

We won’t lie, the procedure is a bit of a process. There’s a lot of filing, soaking, waiting and filing again. But if you do it correctly and have some patience your nails will be bare, with no damage in less than 30 minutes.

RELATED: At-home DIY beauty solutions now that you can’t go to your local salon.

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Step 1. File

There’s a lot of layers going on so to help the gel breakdown faster and allow the nail polish remover to penetrate further you need to file and buff off the top coat first. To protect your nail bed apply a cuticle oil or a balm over the skin. If your nail is long trim off the end – the less product to file and soak, the easier it’s going to be.

Badger Cuticle Care Balm ($13.95, at Nourished Life)

Step 2. Soak

This is the tricky part and the most time consuming. You’ll need nail polish remover (most types will work but it must contain acetone), some cotton balls or tissues, aluminium foil and patience. Soak the cotton ball in the remover before placing it over your nail and wrapping it up in the foil. Do this for all fingers on one hand before wrapping your hand in a hot towel (it can help speed up the process) and then repeat on the other side.

Sally Hansen Instant Nail Polish Remover ($5.97, at Priceline)

Step 3. Wait

Depending on the type of manicure you have – Shellac, SNS or gel and strength of nail polish remover, it can take around 10 to 15 minutes for it to breakdown and allow the coating to lift from your nail. The longer you wait the easier it’s going to be to peel off and lift, rather than chipping away at it.

Swisspers Cotton Balls ($3.75, at Woolworths)

Step 4. File, again

Unwrap your nails, if the polish is ready you’ll see it’s lifted and looks soft. Take a cuticle pusher and gentle remove the polish. If there’s any hard-to-get spots try to rub them with remover, if that doesn’t work a gentle file should do the trick. Otherwise, repeat steps 2 and 3. File your nails into shape.

OXX Studio Cuticle Pusher & Nail Cleaner ($6, at Kmart)

Step 5. Nourish

Acetone is pretty nasty to both your nails and your skin, so from here you’ll need to nourish and hydrate. Go for a thick multi-purpose skin salve like our homemade balm and allow it to soak in for ten minutes. Apply before bed and every night to ensure there’s no further damage, splitting or cracking.

Egyptian Magic All Purpose Cream ($34.99, at Myer)

For a step-by-step tutorial, watch this:

More essential coronavirus reading:

Read up on what the government lockdown means for you, understand why Aussie doctors are up arms, be aware of the ‘hidden symptom’ of COVID-19 carriers, prepare yourself for the long-term mental health effects of the pandemic, get your sweat on at home with these free online workouts before reviving your over-washed hands with this DIY balm, and then console yourself with these unexpected joys.