It’s no secret that gel nail polish is one of the most adored nail enhancements out there – it looks great, it lasts weeks, and it keeps your nails protected from breakage and the elements.
Gel nail polish is convenient and easy to do at home, as long as you have a UV light and a few gel colors along with a base and a topcoat. But there is one downside to gel nail polish: the removal process.
Anyone who has ever tried to remove gel nail polish, whether at home or at a salon, knows that it’s a tedious process that takes time and has the potential to damage your nails.
The typical removal process involves filing the top layers of your gel polish, then wrapping your nails with cotton balls soaked with acetone and secured with foil, waiting for 15-20 minutes for the acetone to dissolve and soften the nail polish, and then removing it by continuing to file the softened polish or scraping it off.
This process can lead to injuries, damage to the nails, and a lot of wasted time. What if there was a better way? Enter: gel polish remover machines. These machines promise to help you remove your gel nail polish at home easily and safely, without the hassle described above.
Do gel polish remover machines really work? Yes, gel polish remover machines really work, but they still have some downsides you should be aware of before you invest in one.
In this post, we will go over how gel polish remover machines work, how they compare to other removal methods, and whether or not you should incorporate them into your nail routine.
What Are Gel Polish Remover Machines?
They are typically made out of plastic and involve a steaming mechanism at the bottom with special finger holes on top so you can insert your fingers into the machine.
The machines can be bought for around $40-50 and used indefinitely each time you need to remove gel nail polish.
Here’s a really popular option that people love using at home because it’s compact and made with high-quality materials.
These machines promise to make the process of removing gel nail polish easy, safe, and quick. But do they really deliver?
How Gel Polish Remover Machines Work
Gel nail polish has to be removed with acetone or an acetone-like substance because it’s the only thing that can soften and dissolve this type of polish.
So, these gel polish remover machines rely on acetone. Instead of manually having to wrap each of your fingers with acetone-soaked cotton balls, this machine heats up the acetone and uses the acetone steam on your nails.
Here’s how it works:
- Use a nail file to file off the top layer of your gel nail polish – this removes the topcoat and exposes the gel polish to the acetone steam.
- Open up the machine and pour a little bit of acetone into the small compartment inside. Most machines require about 2ml – 4ml of acetone, which is around one teaspoon.
- Plug the machine into an electric socket and turn it on. The machine will spend a few minutes warming up and will notify you when it’s ready for use.
- When it’s ready, remove the lid and insert your fingers into the special holes at the top of the machine. Most machines can accommodate one hand at a time.
- Keep your fingers inside of the machine for about 10 minutes. During this time, your fingertips will be exposed to a continuous steam of acetone which should soften and dissolve the gel nail polish.
- Remove your fingers out of the machine and use a cuticle pusher or a wooden stick to remove the remaining nail polish. The gel polish should be very soft at this point, and it should come off easily, without you having to scrape it.
- If the nail polish is not soft enough, repeat the steaming process until it is.
- When you are done, repeat the process on your other hand.
- When you are finished, turn off the machine, disconnect it from the electricity, and wash out the acetone basin with water. Put the lid back on and store the machine until the next use.
As you can see, these machines are pretty easy to use and they replace the need for cotton balls, foils, and wrapping. However, they still require you to spend a significant amount of time – 8-10 minutes per hand, to get the gel polish removed.
They also don’t eliminate the need for filing the nails and scraping off the nail polish. So, do these machines really offer a better removal experience like they claim?
Pros Of Gel Polish Removal Machines
Here are some advantages of gel polish removal machines:
- No need to waste cotton balls or foil
- Less messy than other removal methods
- Easy to use compared to the foil wrap method
- Fewer acetone fumes since the machine keeps them enclosed
- Acetone steam makes the gel polish softer and easier to remove without damaging the nails
Cons Of Gel Polish Removal Machines
Here are some downsides of the gel polish removal machines:
- Upfront cost of $40 – $50
- You will need to be stationary during the removal process since you have to sit by the machine, which needs to be on a flat surface and plugged into the outlet.
- Takes about as long as the foil wrap method
- Exposes the skin of your fingertips to more acetone
- Could be a fire hazard if knocked over
There are definitely some solid advantages to using the gel polish remover machines. They make the process easier and simpler.
However, there are some disadvantages, too. One of the things we are most concerned about is exposing your fingertips to the acetone steam.
During normal foil wrap removal, your skin gets exposed to acetone too, but you can control where the cotton ball goes to minimize that. With the steam machines, there is nothing you can do to prevent your skin from being exposed to acetone.
Too much acetone on the skin can lead to dryness, irritation, and cracked skin. That being said, these gel polish removal machines make the gel polish really soft and easy to remove so that you don’t scrape or damage the surface of your nails.
If you have weak and brittle nails, the tradeoff could be worth it for you.
Gel Polish Remover Machines Vs Other Methods
Let’s compare the gel polish remover machines with other methods of removal. We’ve already talked a lot about the foil wrap technique, so let’s summarize how it compares to the remover machines:
Gel Polish Remover Machine Vs Foil Wrap Method
The foil wrap method is the most traditional and most common way to remove gel nail polish. It involves soaking 10 cotton balls with acetone, placing them on each finger, and securing them to the finger by wrapping the fingertips with a small piece of foil.
Here’s how that compares to gel polish remover machines:
- The foil wrap method creates more mess and you need more supplies.
- The foil wrap method takes longer – 20-30 minutes in total.
- For both methods, you’ll need to file the surface of your gel polish first.
- For both methods, you’ll need to use a cuticle tool or something similar to scrape off the softened nail polish after it’s been exposed to acetone.
- The foil wrap method doesn’t get your gel nail polish as soft and easy to remove as the gel polish removal machine method, so you risk damaging your nails more.
- The foil wrap method allows you more flexibility to move around or change sitting positions while your nails are soaking.
- The foil wrap method gives you a little more control to prevent acetone from getting onto your skin.
Gel Polish Remover Machines Vs Acetone Soak
Another common method of removing gel polish for those who don’t have cotton balls or foil at their disposal is the acetone soak.
An acetone soak is simply a bowl filled with acetone that you dip your fingertips in for about 15 – 20 minutes. You should buff the surface of your nails before soaking them.
Here’s how that compares to gel polish remover machines:
- The acetone soak method uses a lot more acetone
- Your skin gets exposed to more acetone during a soak than during a steam
- Acetone soak takes longer to soften the nail polish
- Acetone soak doesn’t soften the nail polish as much as the steam from a machine
- Both methods are fairly easy to set up and execute
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to all of the methods of gel polish remover.
The biggest advantage to using a gel polish remover machine is that it uses acetone steam. The steam is the key to getting your gel polish so soft that it’s easy to remove without scraping your nails too hard.
If you’re someone who is concerned about the damage your nails suffer during the removal process from scraping off the gel polish, these machines could be a great solution for you!