Gel Removal 101

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Gel Removal 101

Gels are hot right now and many clients request them without knowing how to remove them.  Some clients will try to chip the gel off themselves, which permanently damages their nails and turns clients off to future gel application. As a nail technician, it is essential that you properly educate your clients on the process of removal. Let’s brush up on the basics.


Hard gels are good for enhancing a client’s nails, but must be filed off very carefully. You need to be able to tell the difference between what is part of the nail and what is gel, and never file off too much. It is often beneficial to the health of the client’s nails to leave a precautionary thin layer of gel on top and simply buff it for a natural shine.


Soak-off gels are best removed with acetone. However, soaking nails in acetone repeatedly will dehydrate a client’s nails. It can help to use a conditioning formula, or to switch to a wrap for removal rather than an acetone soak. If nails are already too dehydrated for this, light filing can be done, though be sure not to cause further damage to the nail by over-filing the thin gel polish.


If a client likes to change her nail style often, let her know that gels may not be the best system for her. Decorative polish can sometimes be added to hard gels for a variation in manicure, but constant filing and soaking is not good for the overall health of the nail.


Gels are a fun nail service and can certainly boost your salon’s revenue. Make sure your clients know which type of gel they are getting, and even encourage them to set up an appointment for removal right after application. This prevents clients from being unhappy with incorrect removal and keeps them coming back.