How to Remove SNS or Gel Nails Quickly and Easily at Home

Easily remove SNS or gel nails quickly and easily at home with these instructions + a video tutorial.

remove SNS gel nails easily at home

Remove your own SNS or gel nails at home

It is helpful to know how to remove your own SNS or gel nails at home. As I write this, most states are sheltering in place due to a pandemic. Since all non-essential businesses are closed, this includes hair and nail salons. Some of us had to remove our SNS or gel nails; thankfully, it is quick and easy.

What you’ll need to remove SNS or gel nails

remove SNS or gel nails

  • 100% acetone. You can find this at beauty supply stores, most home stores like Lowes, or online (I got mine here on amazon).
  • Coarse nail file like these with either 180 or 100 grit
  • Paper towel. Just a small piece will do.
  • Scissors to cut paper towel.
  • Timer to time 15 minutes.
  • Small bowls or measuring cups (1/3 or 1/2 sizes are great).
  • Cotton pads. I love these DHC silky cotton and am using them in the video.

What is acetone?

Acetone is a solvent used for thinning some fibers and cleaning tools.  It is used to dissolve some paints and varnishes. Almost all nail salons use acetone to remove SNS or gel nails.

Is acetone the same as nail polish remover?

Some polish removers contain a large amount of acetone combined with fragrances, coloring, and other solvents. They likely won’t work as easily to remove SNS or gel nails.

Is it safe to soak nails in acetone?

As long as your skin has no cuts or sores, and if you haven’t had any prior, negative reactions to acetone; it is safe to soak your fingertips to remove nail solutions. Be aware that acetone does dry the skin and nails, but it is otherwise harmless.

Steps to removing SNS or gel nails at home.

  • File the shiny glossy top coat off of all nails with the coarse file.
  • Place small piece of paper towel in bottom of bowl(s).
  • Fill bowls with acetone to cover nails completely.
  • Heat wet cloths in microwave to lay atop hands. Be careful not to burn; choose a microwave time and temp that works for you.
  • Submerge nails in acetone. Cover hands with warm cloths.
  • Soak for 15 minutes, occasionally rubbing nails against paper towels.
  • Remove nails after 15 minutes.
  • Continue filing and soaking as needed until nails are clean.

In the video below, I share the process of removing my SNS nails and the supplies needed to make it quick and easy.

After removing SNS or gel nails.


remove SNS or gel nails at home

As you can see in the photo above, the nails are NOT pretty. If you are like me, you plan to get to a nail salon as soon as stores reopen. In the meantime, here are some tips to make them feel/look good until then.

  • Wash hands and scrub nails with nail brush.
  • Scrub hands well with exfoliating scrub. I used this one from Wal-Mart.
  • Rinse hands well remove all scrub.
  • Rub hands with a moisturizing lotion or cream.

Buffing, trimming, and filing nails will make them feel and look so much better. For those of us waiting to get back to the salons to get SNS or gel put back on, a simple gloss coat or polish will tide us over.

I hope this is helpful and that all of you are staying safe and well during this time. Thank you for stopping by and blessings to you all!!

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  1. Is there some way to get the SNS nails off then save them to reglue yourself? I know in the removal process, the filing down on top takes the nice glossy top coat off. During the pandemic I just let the SNS nails eventually pop off which they did as my real nails underneath grew. This wasn’t always smart because it did cause some tearing, but the SNS nails still looked great and I just wanted to glue them back on.

  2. Hi Bridget!! IF you can hold off until salons reopen, I highly suggest it lol. My nails feel awful and look awful. Yes, it is easy to remove the powder but nails will not be pretty. If you have a good polish and top coat or base coat to fill in ridges, that will make them look and feel better. Let me hear how it turns out for you. Stay well!!!

  3. I am so glad to see this !! I had my nails Dipped sometime the last week of February – I never really paid attention to how fast they grow ……. until now. I’ve been wondering if I would have to let them grow out. I tried looking on YouTube and the couple of videos I tried – just didn’t get the nail softened and off. From your information I wasn’t soaking long enough. I will tackle them again this weekend, Thank You!

  4. Hi Karen! I was glad to have an option to get the nails off. They still aren’t “pretty,” but they will do until salons reopen. Thank you for reaching out. Stay safe and well my friend!! XoXo

  5. This is so helpful! My nails are a mess, I had acrylic’s on and was overdue for a fill right when everything shut down. A few eventually popped up and I helped the last few off. I would love to try this method, popping them off was not ideal!

    Love your blog, have a great week!


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