In the world of beauty, exceptional nail services go beyond flawless application. A truly masterful experience encompasses the entire process, including safe and effective removal. Whether a client wants a new style or a return to their natural nails, a gentle touch during removal builds trust and loyalty. This, coupled with strong technical skills, elevates your salon’s reputation and sets you apart from the competition.

Before diving into the steps, let’s address the importance of proper insurance. Industry experts Salon Gold advise that insurance is critical for nail technicians: “Claims for infected nail beds, or reactions to acrylics can cost thousands of pounds, so taking out a comprehensive policy, which includes all of the most important insurance covers for nail technicians, provides you with a valuable safety net.” With proper insurance in place, you can focus on delivering exceptional service, knowing your clients are protected.

5 steps to gentle nail removal

Now, let’s explore the key steps to becoming a nail removal expert:

1. Assess the nails

A thorough assessment sets the stage for a smooth removal process. Examine the nails for any breaks, chips, or lifting. Ask your client about any allergies or sensitivities they might have, and note the type of artificial nails applied (acrylic, gel, etc). This information will guide you in choosing the most appropriate removal technique.

2. Trim and file

Using sharp clippers, carefully trim excess acrylic or gel length to just above the natural nail bed. A coarse file can then be used to buff the topcoat, breaking down the product’s glossy surface. This allows the acetone to penetrate more effectively in the next step.

3. Soak in acetone (for acrylic or gel nails)

For acrylic or gel nails, acetone is the go-to removal solution. However, it’s important to handle it with care due to its drying effect. Here’s the safe and effective way:

  • Patch test: If it’s your client’s first time with removal, consider a short 5-minute patch test on one finger to check for any sensitivity to acetone.
  • Soak it up: Saturate cotton balls in 100% acetone.
  • Wrap it tight: Place each cotton ball on the corresponding nail and secure it with aluminium foil.
  • Soak time: Let the nails soak for 10-15 minutes. The exact time can vary depending on the thickness of the artificial nails.

4. Gently remove the nail

Once the soak time is complete, carefully remove the foil wraps and cotton balls. The artificial nail should now be significantly softened and easier to remove. Use a cuticle pusher and gently push under the free edge of the softened nail, lifting it away from the natural nail bed. 

If the nail doesn’t budge easily, repeat the soaking process for a few more minutes. Never force or pry off the nail, as this can damage the natural nail underneath.

5. Buff and moisturise

After removing the artificial nails, buff the remaining product residue off the natural nails using a soft nail buffer. This will leave a smooth surface. To combat the drying effects of acetone, apply a generous amount of cuticle oil and gently massage it into the cuticles and nail beds. This will help rehydrate and nourish the natural nails, promoting healthy growth.

By mastering these steps and prioritising gentle removal techniques, you’ll ensure a safe and comfortable experience for your clients. Remember, happy clients are loyal clients, and word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable in the beauty industry. Invest in your knowledge and skills, and watch your salon’s reputation soar.


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