How to remove shellac SNS and gel nail polish at home

·3-min read

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Manicured woman's hands holding a cup of coffee or tea.
Here's how to remove SNS and Shellac nail polish at home. Credit: Getty Images

Yes it's a first world problem. But that doesn't mean you don't need a fix. 

If you're in lockdown and a couple of weeks into SNS or gel nails with no way of getting to a salon, we're guessing you're starting to get seriously itchy fingers about removing it. 

But whatever you do, don't let temptation get the better of you and start picking at it. Here's the best way of removing SNS or gel nails at home...

What you need:

Now you've got your kit ready, this is what to do:

  1. Run the nail file over the top of the gel or SNS. This Geecol electric nail file, $39.99, has files of different roughness so you can choose which one suits you best. File gently, but enough to remove the top shiny layer.

 Geecol Portable Nail Drill Set, $39.99
An electric nail file, like this Geecol Portable Nail Drill Set, $39.99 can make gel nail removal much quicker.

2. Coat the skin around your nails and fingertips with cuticle oil, like this Essie Nail Care Apricot Cuticle Oil, $16.95, to protect the skin.

Essie Nail Care Apricot Cuticle Oil, $16.95
Essie Nail Care Apricot Cuticle Oil, $16.95 will nourish your nails while you're removing the SNS or gel polish. Credit: Adore Beauty


3. Make sure you open the window for this part. Saturate cotton wool balls with acetone in a small bowl. OPI Nail Polish Remover with Aloe Vera, $10.95, is a good option. Cotton wool balls are better than cotton wool pads as they will sit on your nail better, and keep hold of the acetone more easily.

OPI Nail Polish Remover with Aloe Vera, $10.95
A good nail polish remover such as OPI Nail Polish Remover with Aloe Vera, $10.95 will make the job a lot easier. Credit: Adore Beauty


4. Place a saturated cotton wool ball on each finger, then put the cap clips around them, or wrap them in foil. If you're using foil, cut it beforehand into 7cmx7cm squares, then wrap one around each finger. This can get a bit fiddly by the end, so if you can enlist someone to help you, then do! Leave the foil or cap clips on for 10-15 minutes. You'll know it's ready when you unwrap your fingers and the polish looks as though it has lifted off the nail. If it doesn't look like this, soak for another 5 minutes. 

10PC Plastic Acrylic Nail Art Soak Off Cap Clip UV Gel Polish Remover Wrap Tool
Cap Clips to wrap around your nails, like these for $7.69 can be less fiddly than using foil. Credit: Amazon

5. Take the foil or cap clips off each nail, applying slight pressure to the nail with the cotton wool ball. Most of it should come off. For remaining stuck bits, gently use a cuticle stick, working under the gel or SNS to lift it off the nail. Remember, don't share cuticle sticks with friends - they collect bacteria. If you are using a wooden one throw it away, or wash a metal one, such as this Laza Cuticle Pusher, $14.99, before using it again.

Laza Cuticle Pusher,
A good cuticle stick, such as this Laza Cuticle Pusher, $14.99, is essential. Credit: Amazon

6. When all the polish is off, gently buff your nails so they're smooth. The OPI Brilliance Block File, $8.95, is easy to hold and use. Then apply a final coat of cuticle oil to nourish the nails and the surrounding fingertips. 

OPI Brilliance Block File, $8.95
A sturdy block buffer will make the job much easier. OPI Brilliance Block File, $8.95. Credit: Adore Beauty

7. Finish by coating your hands in a rich hand cream. We recommend the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, which is perfect for dry skin. Now sit back and admire your handiwork! 

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
We recommend the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, which is perfect for dry skin. Photo: Adore Beauty

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