Q&A

Removing Gels to Apply Acrylic

Q.

There are many gel nail salons around where I live, meaning there are many people with gel nails. I do acrylic nails and I’m wondering if there is a special removal method to follow for gels because I know they don’t soak off like acrylic. I have a lot of people coming to me with their gel nails still on. Do I just thin them down as good as I can and apply the acrylic as usual? Will the acrylic still adhere with that thin layer of gel on? Or do I need to completely get rid of the gel and get to the natural nail to be able to apply the acrylic?

A.

The only removal method for a non-soak-off gel is to file it off.

To answer your next question, we know that most gels will adhere to acrylic with the right surface texture. I personally have done this many times. You file the gel as thinly as you can using a 150-grit file, being very careful not to break through to the nail beneath. The existing gel surface must be rough for the acrylic to adhere properly, if it is too smooth you take the chance of the acrylic popping or separating from the gel that is left.

If you have broken through to the natural nail while filing and thinning down the existing gel, stop immediately. The 150-grit is way too harsh for the natural nail and will damage your client’s nails. Make sure you do good prep work too. Improper prep is the biggest reason for lifting.  

— Renee Doran is an educator for OPI.

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