How to Safely Remove Soft Gel Without Damaging Your Nails

gel polish removal

In a perfect world, your favourite nail salon would be open and ready to serve you at all hours of the day. Unfortunately, nails can chip or crack at any time. Whether you’re desperate to have a new colour or your soft gel nails have an unexpected crack, there may be the odd occasion where removing your soft gel at home is your only option. While we will always recommend getting your soft gel removed by a professional, here is the right way to remove it in case of emergencies.


Fill a small bowl with pure acetone. Nail polish remove contains acetone but not enough. The acetone needs to be concentrated. You will also need small strips of aluminum foil, cotton balls, cotton swabs, and petroleum jelly or petroleum-based lotion.

Protect Your Skin

Acetone can be harmful to your skin. Protect your fingers by dabbing a cotton swab full of petroleum jelly or lotion and rubbing it into the skin around your nail bed. Make sure not to get it on your nails, as you need the acetone to penetrate the gel.

Optional Filing

The surface of your nails is covered in a thick layer of top coat. Acetone may be more effective if you remove the top coat first by filing your nails with a coarse nail file. Once the top layer is filed down, your nails are ready to be soaked in acetone. This is optional, as the acetone alone is usually sufficient enough to remove the soft gel. This is often not recommended, as coarse filing can damage the top layer of your nails.

Soak Your Nails

Unless your skin can withstand the feeling of acetone, you will have to soak cotton balls and individually wrap your nails in foil. Make sure the cotton balls are soaked through and secure them in place with the foil. Let them soak for about 30 minutes.

Safely Remove Acetone Swabs

After 30 minutes, peel back the aluminum foil on one finger. The soft gel should be completely removed. If the soft gel is still firmly stuck on your nail, soak another cotton ball in acetone and wrap your finger again in aluminum for another 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes the soft gel is still stuck to your nail, please wait until you can make an appointment at a professional salon.

However, if after 30 minutes, the soft gel is completely removed, gently do the same for the rest of your fingers and dispose of the cotton balls and aluminum foil. Wash your hands and moisturize, making sure to massage your cuticles.

Or you can make an appointment at The Nail Pro. We’ll make sure to fit you in as soon as possible!