Step-by-Step Guide on How to Remove Polygel Nails

Polygel nails have gained immense popularity among nail enthusiasts due to their durability and long-lasting effects. While these artificial nail extensions are known for their resilience, there comes a time when you may need to remove them. Whether you want to switch up your nail look or give your natural nails a pause, it’s essential to follow the correct procedure to ensure the health of your nails. In this article, we will guide you through a step-by-step process on how to remove polygel nails at home safely.

Following the proper removal techniques ensures that your natural nails remain strong, intact, and ready for their next adventure. In the upcoming sections, we will guide you through step-by-step instructions and provide essential tips for removing polygel nails efficiently and carefully.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Remove Polygel Nails

Step 1: Gather the Required Tools: 

A successful polygel nail removal process begins with having the right tools and materials at your disposal. Here is a list of essential items you’ll need:

Acetone: Acetone is a crucial ingredient for effectively removing polygel nails. It helps break down the bonds of the polygel, making it easier to remove. You can find acetone at most drugstores, beauty supply stores, or online.

Nail File: A coarse-grit nail file is necessary to file down the top layer of the polygel. This step helps the acetone penetrate the polygel more efficiently. Opt for a high-quality file that is gentle on the nails but effective in removing the polygel.

Cuticle Pusher: A cuticle pusher is a handy tool for gently pushing back the cuticles and lifting the softened polygel during removal. Look for a stainless steel or wooden cuticle pusher that is comfortable to hold and has a non-abrasive edge.

Cotton Balls or Pads: Cotton balls or pads are essential for applying acetone to the nails. They help absorb and distribute the acetone evenly, ensuring maximum effectiveness. Choose lint-free cotton balls or soft cotton pads to avoid leaving fibers on the nails.

Aluminum Foil: Aluminum foil is commonly used in the “wrapping method” of polygel nail removal. It helps create a barrier between the acetone-soaked cotton and the air, allowing the polygel to soften more effectively. Regular kitchen aluminum foil works just fine for this purpose.

Nail Buffer or Block: A nail buffer or block is helpful for gently buffing the nails after the removal process. It helps smooth any roughness or unevenness, leaving the nails polished and ready for further nail care.

Most of these supplies are found at local beauty stores, drugstores, or online retailers specializing in nail products. Investing in good quality tools and materials is advisable to ensure a smooth and successful polygel nail removal experience.

Step 2: Preparing Your Nails

Properly preparing your nails before removing polygel is essential for a successful and safe removal process. Preparing the nails ensures optimal results and minimizes the risk of damage to your natural nails. These simple steps can create a smooth and practical polygel removal experience.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Preparing the Nails:

Start by filing the nails: Using a coarse-grit nail file, gently file the surface of each nail. This step helps remove the top layer of the polygel and allows the acetone to penetrate effectively. Be gentle while filing and avoid excessive pressure to prevent damage to your natural nails. Filing only the polygel is essential, avoiding contact with the underlying nail plate.

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Focus on the edges and cuticle area: Pay special attention to each nail’s edges and cuticle area. These are the areas where the polygel tends to adhere firmly. Carefully file the edges and gently buff the cuticle area to loosen the polygel and create a smoother surface for the acetone to work its magic.

Buff the surface: After filing, switch to a buffer or nail block to gently buff the surface of the nails. This step helps remove any remaining polygel residue and smoothens the nail surface. Be cautious not to over-buff or apply excessive pressure, as it can weaken the nails.

Cleanse the nails: Use a lint-free cloth or cotton pad soaked in non-acetone nail polish remover to cleanse the nails. This step removes any oils or debris, ensuring optimal adherence to the acetone during the removal process. Thoroughly wipe each nail, ensuring they are clean and ready for the next step.

Step-by-Step Removal Process

When it’s time to remove your polygel nails, there are several methods to choose from. Each technique has its own advantages, and you can select the one that best suits your preference and the condition of your nails. Let’s explore the three most common removal methods: the soaking method, the wrapping method, and the filing method.

Soaking Method:

a. Begin by preparing a small bowl of acetone. Make sure there’s enough acetone to submerge your nails completely.

b. Using a coarse nail file, gently roughen the surface of each nail to allow the acetone to penetrate the polygel more effectively.

c. Carefully dip your fingertips into the bowl of acetone, ensuring that the polygel-covered nails are fully submerged. You can also soak cotton balls or pads in acetone and place them on your nails.

d. Allow your nails to soak for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until you notice that the polygel has started to lift or become soft.

e. Once the polygel has softened, use a cuticle pusher with a gentle edge to carefully push and scrape off the softened polygel. Be patient and avoid using excessive force to prevent damage to your natural nails.

Wrapping Method:

a. Soak small pieces of cotton balls or pads in acetone until they are fully saturated.

b. Place the acetone-soaked cotton directly on top of each nail, ensuring the polygel is fully covered.

c. Wrap each finger with a small piece of aluminum foil to secure the cotton in place. The foil creates a barrier that retains heat and helps the acetone work more effectively.

d. Let your nails sit wrapped in foil for approximately 15-20 minutes to allow the acetone to penetrate and soften the polygel.

e. After the allotted time, remove the foil wraps and the acetone-soaked cotton. Use a cuticle pusher to scrape away the softened polygel gently. Be gentle and patient to avoid damaging your natural nails.

Filing Method:

a. Start by using a coarse nail file to file down the top layer of the polygel carefully. This step helps break the seal and allows the acetone to penetrate more effectively.

b. Gradually file away the remaining layers of the polygel, being cautious not to file too close to the natural nail. Take your time and check your progress frequently to avoid over-filing.

c. As you approach the natural nail, switch to a finer-grit file to remove any remaining residue. Be gentle to minimize the risk of damaging your natural nails.

Remember to be patient and gentle throughout the removal process, regardless of your chosen method. Take breaks if needed, and regularly moisturize your nails and cuticles to keep them hydrated and healthy.

Post-Removal Care

Congratulations on successfully removing your polygel nails! Now that your natural nails are free, it’s time to give them some well-deserved post-removal care. Proper nail care after polygel removal is essential to promote healthy nail growth, restore moisture, and maintain strength. Here are some valuable tips to follow:

Tips for Nail Care After Removing Polygel Nails:

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Hydrate and moisturize: After polygel removal, your nails may feel dry and brittle. Hydration is vital to restoring their health. Apply a nourishing cuticle oil or a moisturizing nail serum daily to keep your nails and cuticles hydrated. Massage the oil or serum into your nails and cuticles to improve circulation and promote healthy nail growth.

Protect and strengthen: Opt for a strengthening nail treatment or a hardener to fortify your natural nails. These products help protect your nails from breakage and provide essential nutrients for their growth. Look for formulas containing biotin, keratin, or vitamin E.

Avoid aggressive nail care routines: Give your nails a break from harsh treatments, such as excessive filing, buffing, or using acrylic nails immediately after removing polygel. Let your natural nails breathe and recover their strength before any new enhancements.

Maintain a balanced diet: A healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial for strong and healthy nails. Include foods rich in biotin, vitamin E, iron, and protein. These nutrients promote nail growth and overall nail health.

Importance of moisturizing and nourishing the nails:

Moisturizing and nourishing your nails are essential steps in post-removal care. When nails are exposed to acetone and removal procedures, they can become dehydrated and prone to breakage. Regular moisturization helps replenish the lost moisture, keeping your nails flexible and less likely to crack or split.

In addition to moisturizing, nourishing your nails is vital for their long-term health. Nails require essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to grow strong and resilient. By providing the necessary nourishment through cuticle oils, serums, and a balanced diet, you support the growth of healthy nails.


Removing polygel nails at home can be a straightforward process if done correctly. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can safely remove your polygel nails without causing harm to your natural nails. Remember to be patient and gentle throughout the process to minimize potential damage. If you encounter any difficulties or have concerns, it’s always advisable to seek professional assistance from a nail technician. With proper care and attention, your natural nails will be ready for a fresh manicure.

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