Gel Polish - Soak Off and Prep
Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Gel polish is a great service for your clients but sometimes it can be a pain to remove.
Below is my step by step guide as to how I remove my clients gel polish and prep the nails at the same time.
This clients gels had grown out perfectly, no chips or lifting just outgrown.
This is how each client should return ready for their soak off and new set.
Gel polish is too thin to infill, it can be done if using the same colour and you are low on time but by the time you have buffed the nails down you are likely to be through to the natural nails.
The Soak Off Process
To begin the process you will need to break the seal of the top coat. To do this you must buff off the shine from the complete nail, if the client is having their nails shortened then you can cut some length off, this will break the seal across the free edge. If your client is just having a tidy up you can break the free edge seal by beveling the free edge.
You can see the side wall and the free edge has been exposed, also on the center of the nail the gel has been buffed down until the natural nail is visible
To remove the top coat I use a 240 grit file, once the shine is removed all over I change to a 180 grit file, this will continue to buff down the gel but will not cause any harm to the natural nail should you file too far. Always be very careful and work slowly at this stage, we do not want to file the natural nail plate.
By revealing the nail though the gel polish you will allow the soak off solution to get underneath the gel products quicker. The same as revealing the nail on top of the nail plate, this will allow the soak off solution to 'attack' the gel from all angles, making the soak off time quicker.
Before moving on to the next nail soak your preferred nail wipes (cut to size) in your soak off solution.
I use paper wax strips cut to little squares. They are completely lint free and do not absorb all the liquid like cotton pads do. This means the soak off product is left to be adsorbed by the gel.
Wrap this in foil and make sure you squeeze the foil so it fits snug. If there is any gaps or holes in the foil the acetone from the solution will evaporate and the gel will not soften, even if the gel starts to lift it will re harden once all the product has evaporated.
Now this has started to soak move on to the next finger. Doing the nails one at a time like this means that the first few fingers would of had a good soak by the time you have finished putting the last one in foil.
Once they are all filed, soaked and wrapped in foil you can go back to the hand and finger that you did first.
Only ever remove one foil at a time, as you remove and prep this nail the others will still be soaking, making it easier for you to remove.
This is the perfect sight once you have removed the foil. the gel has peeled away from the nail plate and will take no effort to remove.
To remove the gel from the nail plate use your cuticle pusher or orange stick, which ever you work with. I personally use a metal cuticle pusher, care must be taken not to push to hard with this and to keep it flat to the nail plate.
Gently removing the gel by scraping it from the nail plate, the gel should flake of with ease. If there is a section of gel left on the nail plate NEVER force it off. Doing so will damage the nail plate. If you have a some gel that has not lifted then re apply the soak off solution and re wrap. Leave this to soak while you move onto the next finger
Once all the gel from the nail plate has been removed, I will then complete my dry nail prep ready for the application of the new gels. This way the remaining nails are still soaking and by the time the last nail is completed, they are all prepared.
IMPORTANT! Do all of your soak off and nail prep over a piece of couch roll, dust goes everywhere.
This gel brand had a base coat so I removed the remaining product, pushed back the cuticles, filed the nails and beveled the free edge. Then I buffed the whole nail plate with a 180 grit buffer ensuring the nail plate was smooth, had no imperfections and that all the gel product was removed.
Double check down the side walls as sometimes gel can still be hiding on the nail, failure to remove all of the old gels will impact the application of gel polish.
The nails are perfectly prepped. Make sure the nail plates are cleansed/dehydrated and all the dust is removed from your clients hands and nails but also from your working area.
Your nails are now ready for their enhancements.
The soak off and preparation should only take around 20/30 mins. If the gels are not budging make sure you have filed through the gel fully. A heat source can be added to the hands while the nails are wrapped in foil, this activates the acetone and makes it work quicker. A suitable heat source would be heated mitts.
Hope this helps, feel free to ask me any questions.