Manicure Hacks: Quick fixes & gel polish removal

Quick fixes

1. Oil them up. Cuticle oil is amazing for hydrating the nails – especially during this time when we are washing our hands more frequently and using alcohol-filled hand sanitisers – but not only that, if you are giving yourself an at-home manicure, popping some cuticle oil on when you’re done. This traps the air so the polish dries faster – avoiding any smudges or mishaps.

2. Getting rid of dents. If you do get a dreaded dent in your nail polish immediately after doing your nails, use some cuticle to smooth out the dent. Just drop some cuticle oil on and rub the area gently with your finger to smooth it out.

3. Wearing off. If your nail polish is wearing away at the tip of your nails – take a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover and gently smooth over the area. Leave this to dry, then repaint the worn away edge with minimal amounts of polish.

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Now more than ever, hand cream is a must-have for just about everyone. As we are using hand sanitiser and religiously hand-washing, this can dry out our hands immensely. Pop a nice, hydrating hand cream in your bag and one in your bathroom so you always have one nearby. Hydrated nails are also stronger nails, so making sure you are hydrating your hands and nails often will prolong any colour you have on them.

Removing gel polish/Shellac

You will need:

  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Tin foil
  • Rough nail file
  • Nail buffer (ideal but not essential)
  • Cuticle oil/nail treatment
  • Cotton wool balls/squares

    1. Space and time

    Find a well-ventilated space and set aside 20-30 minutes. You will need time for this process, and a ventilated space so you don’t get a headache from the acetone fumes

    2. On file

    If you have extensions, cut down the length before you begin. If not, cut and file your natural nails down to your desired length and shape. Then, using a coarse nail file, gently file the top layer of polish – just enough to remove the shine – rather than filing too far in to the colour itself.

    3. Protect your skin

    Coat the skin surrounding your nails and fingertips with a cuticle oil, rich hand cream or even petroleum jelly – this step will protect your skin from the drying effects of the acetone.

    4. Soak

    Soak cotton wool balls or small, square cuttings of cotton pads (a little bit bigger than the size of your nail) in the acetone (more than you think you need) and place the cotton wool/pad on the surface of your nail.

    5. Wrap & wait

    Wrap small squares of the foil around the cotton wool on your fingertip and secure in place. Repeat this on all 10 nails (you may want to do one hand at a time for ease). Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes before checking your progress. The foil adds pressure and locks in heat for the acetone to work its magic. After 10-15 minutes, the polish should look lifted and as if it’s falling off the nail – you should be able to remove it easily with little to no pressure with the cotton ball. If the polish doesn’t come off easily, leave soaking for another 5 minutes and try again.

    6. Remove

    Once all the gel polish has loosened, remove the foil from each finger and apply slight pressure to the nail with the cotton ball to remove the remaining nail polish. For any remaining bits, use a cuticle stick if you have one (the handle of a spoon – used gently – will do the trick too). If you use a wooden cuticle stick, dispose of it after using. Buff the nails to remove any final residue.

    7. Hydrate

    After soaking in acetone, your nails will likely be a bit dry – even if you oiled them up first. Apply your cuticle oil generously and leave to soak in. If you have time, soak your nails in coconut oil for five minutes to keep them a boost of hydration before applying the cuticle oil.


    • Despite the drying effects of acetone, it is much better to use this method than to pick or peel off your polish as this damages the nail bed, which acetone does not do. Damaging the nail bed can leave you with brittle, broken nails
    • Apply a coat of nail strengthener after removing gel polish as they may feel a little weak and are used to the protection of the gel polish