5 easy steps to soaking your gels off at home

18th June 2020

We all know that peeling your gels is so bad for your nails, but we also know that you can’t always get to The Beauty Assembly to get your nails soaked off by one of our team, so here’s our handy guide to removing your gel manicure or pedicure safely at home.  

We use this soak off technique with the gel brands we stock, which are categorised as soft gels as they aren’t extensions. If you need to remove extensions (like hard gel or acrylics) we recommend you go back to the salon who applied them. Feel free to try the following steps on one nail first to get used to it, then go back and do the rest of your nails. It takes 20 minutes in the salon, but give yourself about an hour to make sure you have enough time to do one hand at a time.

Illustrations by our very own @lias.mystic.nails

What you’ll need 

A coarse nail file

Cotton wool (pads or balls – you’re going to pull them apart to be a little bigger than the nail)


squares of tin foil (you can cut these from kitchen foil, they need to be at least 2 inches tall and 3 inches wide to wrap around the nail)

Orangewood stick (if you can’t get hold of one of these, you can use a teaspoon or plastic spoon)

Buffing block

Nail clippers

Cuticle oil or balm (we sell CND solar oil, but we also recommend NIBA for a vegan, organic alternative)

1. File the nail bed

Use the coarse file on the surface of the gel to file off the shiny topcoat and create a rough texture. This helps the acetone penetrate the gel and makes it easier to push the gel off, so don’t be afraid to press quite hard and really make sure there is no shine left.

2. Soak the nail

Take a piece of foil and place it under the fingertip. Soak a piece of cotton wool and place it on the nail – you want to make sure the cotton wool piece covers the whole nail but you don’t need to use a whole pad or ball. 

Fold the foil securely over the cotton wool and the nail as shown. Leave for 15-20 mins (the thicker the gel, the longer you can leave it)

3. Push the gel

Take your orangewood stick (or alternative), unwrap the nail carefully and use the flat end of the stick to push the gel towards the tip or towards the cuticle. If you’re using a spoon, use it upside-down so that the rounded end of the spoon is following the same curve as your nail.

Be prepared to repeat steps 2 and 3, especially if you have Builder in a Bottle or glitter on your nails. When repeating you’ll only need to keep the cotton wool on for another 5 minutes at a time.

4. Buff the nail

The nail bed will be rough now you’ve taken off the gel, which is totally normal. Take your buffer and buff the nail bed until it’s smooth. This will also get rid of any tiny remnants of gel left on the nail bed. 

5. Trim and file the nail

Take your nail clippers and trim the nail down to the length you want it. Take your coarse file again and use it gently to shape the nail. You can use your buffing block gently on the end of the nail to smooth it even more. 

Put a drop of cuticle oil at the base of each nail, and rub it into the nail and the surrounding skin. (If you’re putting polish on the nail, do that first then use cuticle oil as it can cause polish to chip more easily)


And you’re done – nice and healthy gel-free nails! Don’t forget to book your next nail appointment with us, and you can visit our Instagram for nail art inspiration and you can message us on there with any questions about this soak off tutorial.