Home Nails How To Remove Polygel Nails (5 Best Ways)

How To Remove Polygel Nails (5 Best Ways)

by Gabbi

Polygel nails have become so popular, that many people are getting them done regularly at their favorite nail salon. There are now home Polygel kits too, bringing stunning and long-lasting nails to your doorstep.

It’s no wonder Polygel nails are loved by many. The material of Polygel nails can be described as a crossover between acrylics and gel nail polish. 

Polygels combine the strength and buildability of acrylics with the shiny flexibility of gels. You can wear long Polygel nails with fun designs on them as well as simply layering Polygel over your natural nails to keep them strong.

But like most nail enhancements, there can be some confusion about the removal process. Polygel nails are unique in the sense that you can’t just pull them off when you’re tired of them – you can risk seriously damaging your nails.

So how do you remove Polygel nails properly? There are a few different ways that work at removing Polygel nails, including acetone wraps, electric file, an oil soak, regular filing, and alcohol.

In this article, we will go over how you can use each of those tools to safely remove your Polygel nails without damaging your nails.

Can You Soak Off Polygel?

The most common question that people ask about removing Polygel nails is if you can soak them off. 

The material that Polygel is made of is best removed through filing or physical friction rather than soaking off because once you begin to file it breaks down easily.

This is not to say you can’t soak them. In fact, as you’ll see in a moment, soaking your nails in some liquids before filing them can help loosen the material and make filing easier.

So, to answer the question, yes, you can soak Polygel nails, but you should also follow up with filing because soaking alone won’t completely remove them. Soaking can only help soften them.

5 Best Ways To Remove Polygel Nails

The best and safest ways to remove Polygels at home are described below. Make sure to follow the instructions to avoid damaging your natural nail:

1. Removing Polygel Nails With Acetone                                            

A common method to remove Polygel nails is acetone

The acetone works by slowly softening the bonds in Polygel and making the material soft. Once the material is soft enough, it becomes easy to file or scrape off without damaging the natural nail underneath.

The acetone doesn’t work right away though. You’ll need to keep it on your nails for at least 10-15 minutes. The best way to do that is through an acetone wrap.

Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand for an acetone wrap:

  • Acetone Nail Polish Remover
  • Cotton balls – one for each nail
  • Aluminum foil cut into small squares, about 3×3″
  • A cuticle pusher or a nail file (optional)

Once you have all of the items on hand, make sure you have at least 20-30 minutes for the whole process:

  1. Buff the surface of your nails to remove the top layer and expose more of the Polygel material to the acetone.
  2. Soak a cotton ball with acetone and place it over your nail.
  3. Wrap a small piece of aluminum foil over the cotton ball and your finger, so that the cotton ball is sitting tightly on your nail.
  4. Repeat for all ten fingers.
  5. Wait 10-15 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove the foils and discard the cotton balls.
  7. Use a cuticle pusher or a nail file to scrape off and remove the softened Polygel.
  8. Wash your hands and apply cuticle oil around your nails to keep them hydrated.

If you do not have a cuticle pusher or a nail file that you could use to remove the softened material, you can repeat the soaking process for a second time, which usually removes the majority of the remaining Polygel material. 

Wash your hands well with some soap and water to remove any bits that stay behind and remember to hydrate your skin around the nails to prevent any damage from the acetone.

2. Removing Polygel Nails With An Electric Nail Drill

If you have an electric nail file drill, you’re in luck! This is one of the best tools you can use to remove Polygel nails. 

In fact, if you go to a salon and have a professional nail technician remove your old Polygel nails, they will most likely use an electric file drill. If you’ve never used an e-file drill, as they are sometimes called, it can seem scary at first!

But don’t worry, as long as you use it carefully without applying too much pressure at once, it is a safe and effective tool. Polygel is the kind of material that breaks down best from physical friction. An e-file drill is perfect for that.

Make sure to pick a coarse drill bit to remove the Polygels. The coarser – the better. Your goal here is to break up the material, and a rough surface is best for that.

You’ll be able to remove all the Polygel down to the nail with just that one tool alone. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Trim any of the Polygel nail that extends beyond your natural nail to make it easier to work with.
  2. Turn on the electric nail drill using a coarse bit and gently run it over your nail. Do not use too much pressure.
  3. The drill will begin breaking down the outermost layer of the Polygel nail
  4. Continue drilling until you reach your natural nail’s surface
  5. Remove the remaining bits of Polygel
  6. Rub cuticle oil over your nails and cuticles for hydration

3. Removing Polygel Nails With Oil And Soap

If you find yourself in a predicament where you have no acetone and no electric nail drill, but those Polygels just need to come off, don’t worry. 

You definitely have some oil and soap somewhere in your house, right? This is one of those non-conventional methods of Polygel nail removal that involves soaking, and yet it works. 

You will likely still need to use a scraping tool like a cuticle pusher, or a simple nail file to complete the job.

To soften the Polygel using oil and soap, you’ll need:

  • Oil – coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and even canola oil will work
  • Soap – a liquid soap like dish soap or hand soap will work
  • Large bowl
  • 4 cups of warm water
  • A cuticle pusher or nail file

Here’s how to remove your Polygel nails with this method:

  1. Begin by slightly lifting the edges of the Polygel nail off of your natural nail. You can use the cuticle pusher or the nail file for this (be careful, don’t pull too hard and damage your own nail). This will allow the solution to “seep” under the Polygel nail where it can do its magic.
  2. Mix 4 cups of warm water, ½ cup of oil, and a few big drops of soap in the large bowl. Mix it all up so that the soap begins to foam.
  3. Submerge all of your nails in the oil and soap bath, and wait 15-20 minutes.
  4. You can confirm that your nails are ready by pushing the Polygel with your cuticle pusher (or nail file) to see if it’s soft. If it’s not soft yet, continue soaking.
  5. Once the Polygel is soft enough, remove it using your cuticle pusher (or nail file) until it’s all gone.

4. Removing Polygel Nails With A Nail File

If you don’t want to bother with the soak but you have a regular nail file, you can use that to remove your Polygel nails.

Just like the electric nail file drill removes Polygel, a simple manual nail file can do the same. Except, it takes a lot longer.

For your file to get through each layer of the Polygel and break it up without damaging your natural nails, will take time. If you try to go too fast, you might accidentally hurt yourself or file too deep and damage your nails.

Budget at least 30-40 minutes for this process. 

If you have some time to spare, here’s how to use a nail file to remove your Polygel nails:

  1. Make sure you are using a 150-180 grit nail file. This type of nail file is rough enough to get through the Polygel material
  2. Trim your Polygel nails to remove any length that goes beyond your natural nail.
  3. Using medium pressure, place the nail file over the center of each nail and begin moving it back and forth from side to side over the nail.
  4. Continue until all of the Polygel is broken up and removed from the surface of the nail.
  5. Your nail may look pretty rough after the filing, so make sure to apply some cuticle oil to your nails to soothe and hydrate them.

5. Removing Polygel Nails With Alcohol

Using isopropyl alcohol to remove Polygel nails isn’t as quick or effective as the other methods. Alcohol is not the best at dissolving Polygel, although it does work if you give it enough time.

The problem with alcohol is that it’s extremely drying and can leave your nails and the skin around them too dry.

For this reason, we recommend being very cautious with alcohol when removing your nails. It’s okay to do it once when you’re in a bind, but we don’t recommend relying on this method each time you want to remove your nails.

The best way to use alcohol to soften your Polygel nails is by following a similar process as the acetone method we discussed above. 

For that, you’ll need:

Follow the same steps you would if you were using acetone:

  1. Buff the surface of your nails to remove as much of the Polygel as you can before softening the rest of it with alcohol.
  2. Soak a cotton ball with alcohol and place it over your buffed nail.
  3. Wrap a small piece of aluminum foil over the cotton ball and your finger, so that the cotton ball is sitting tightly on your nail.
  4. Repeat for all ten fingers.
  5. Wait 20-40 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove the foils and discard the cotton balls.
  7. Use a cuticle pusher or a nail file to scrape off and remove the softened Polygel.
  8. Wash your hands and apply cuticle oil around your nails to keep them hydrated.

This method also works without the cotton balls – simply fill a small bowl with the alcohol and soak your fingertips in it. Just be careful – this can seriously dry out your skin!

What Is The Fastest Way To Remove Polygel Nails?

As you can see, removal of Polygel nails can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 60 minutes, so if you’re in a hurry, it helps to know which method is the fastest.

The fastest way to remove Polygel nails is by using an electric nail file drill. With that tool, you can get all of your Polygels off in under 15 minutes. 

Of course, this depends on your skill and comfort level with the electric drill. If it’s your first time using it, you might want to go a little slower to avoid hurting yourself.

But if you don’t have that tool, what’s the fastest method to remove Polygel nails without the drill?

A combination of acetone wrap and manual filing will remove your Polygel nails the quickest. Just make sure to file the surface of your nails before wrapping it with acetone balls so that the acetone really gets in there.

After 10-15 minutes, the remainder of your Polygels will be soft enough to quickly buff off using the nail file. 

Do Polygel Nails Damage Your Natural Nails?

Polygel nails are not inherently damaging to your natural nails. The material itself is not damaging or drying to your nails.

However, improper removal of Polygel (or any other nail enhancement, for that matter) is one of the things that most commonly cause damage to the natural nail.

To avoid damaging your nails during the removal of Polygel, make sure you are never pulling the Polygel off. When you do this, you risk pulling off the outside layers of your natural nails, which can take a long time to heal and can even lead to infections.

Another thing to watch out for is filing too hard and removing your natural nail. It’s best to take a lot of care when you get close to the nail as you’re filing off the Polygel.

Lastly, some damage can happen from exposure to chemicals like acetone and isopropyl alcohol. Both of them can dry out your nail and the skin around it, which can cause cracking and pain.

As long as you are careful and gentle during Polygel removal, your nails should be okay. Polygels are no more harmful than other nail enhancements like gel or acrylics.

Final Thoughts

Although getting Polygel nails is exciting and everyone loves the results, make sure you have a plan on how you will remove them when the time comes.

Most Polygel sets can last 3-4 weeks, so plan accordingly. You can schedule an appointment to get them removed by a professional at your nail salon or you can make sure you have all the right tools on hand to remove your Polygels at home.

The best and safest methods of Polygel removal are outlined in this blog: acetone, manual and electric nail files, alcohol, and even a mixture of soap and oil. 

Most people have at least one of those things at home, so you’ll be able to find an option that works for you.

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