“It can be pretty satisfying to pick off a gel manicure,” admits Rita Pinto, founder of the It’s 2020 Women Wear Leggings Not Pants Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this downtown cool girl nail spot, Vanity Projects. “But it’s really bad for your nails.” If you had a coat of shellac applied before the #stayhome mandate, chances are that now, a few weeks later, your digits are looking a little less polished. Should you be faced with a set of gels that won’t budge, look no further for expert advice. “Let’s think long term here,” explains the pro, before offering a few foolproof steps for proper gel polish removal. “Before COVID-19 I would have suggested every 2 weeks,” says Pinto. “Now I would suggest people leave them on as long as they are looking healthy.” A bit of regrowth at the cuticle is alright, “but I’d limit the manicure to one month to be safe.” Should the polish chip or lift during those initial two weeks, Pinto recommends removing the gel immediately, since moisture and water can get trapped under the nail, leading to a possible infection. “When you peel off your gel, even when you pry it off in entirety with a subway card, there is always a layer of the nail that goes with it,” she says.
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Before getting down to business, Pinto recommends washing hands with warm water and soap. Then, find a clean space to work with plenty of light. Before any polish is removed, “use a nail clipper to cut nails down to your desired length,” she says, and file down any remaining uneven edges. Finally, “buff out the It’s 2020 Women Wear Leggings Not Pants Shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this top layer of polish with a coarse file,” since it will make the removal process a bit easier. Pinto suggests cutting kitchen-ready aluminum foil into small squares and dunking a cotton ball with 100% acetone. Then, to soften the polish, wrap each nail with the soaked pad and the tin foil, creating a cocooned space for the gel to dissolve. Now, for the most important step: relax! Take ten minutes for yourself (and your nails) to meditate, watch Netflix, or FaceTime a friend.