How to Remove Shellac Nail Polish
by Ning Chao
Published Apr 25, 2011
Wondering how to remove Shellac nail polish or your Minx? We consulted with celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann (who's worked with everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker to Lady Gaga) on the best way to remove both without harming your natural nails.
"The reason we like gel nails, Minx and Shellac polish is that they stay on longer. But that also means they're harder to remove," Deborah says. "You must resist the temptation to peel them off because that pulls off layers of your natural nail too. As for gel tips, acrylics or silk wraps, unless if they're using that horrible machine to buff your nails, the problem isn't in the application but rather the removal of the fake nails. You should know from the get-go that those are a time commitment because you have to go to the salon to put them on and back to the salon to take them off." Everything else, whether it's Salon Effects or Shellac, you can safely do it at home with these tips from Deborah.
Cut Trim cotton pads into small squares that cover your nail bed, without overlapping on top of the cuticle area. Also trim aluminum foil into 3" square sheets (the aluminum foil squares should be big enough that they can be wrapped around your finger tips).
Protect Apply cuticle oil to the skin around your nails to protect them from the drying chemicals in nail polish remover.
Soak Fully saturate a cotton pad in polish remover and place it on top of your nail. What type of remover should you use? Sally Hansen recommends using their Extra Strength Polish remover to take off their Salon Effects designs because it contains extra acetone. However, Deborah advises against the 100% acetone formulas you find at beauty supply stores: "Straight acetone takes off everything the fastest, but it will dry out the nails and really dry out the cuticles. You'll see the whole nail turn white—that means it's dehydrated." Deborah's Stripper formula contains soothing lavender and aloe and there are drugstore varieties that also contain moisturizers. Acetone-free formulas won't work on gel nails.
Wrap To ensure the cotton pad stays in place, wrap your fingertip with the aluminum foil square, like you're wrapping a chicken drumstick in a napkin. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all 10 fingers are wrapped up. "Aluminum foil creates a little heat and makes the actives in the polish remover work harder," explains Deborah.
Press "Let the polish remover do its job and dissolve the lacquer," says Deborah, who recommends gently pressing on the foil to make sure the entire nail bed is in contact with the super-soaked cotton pad.
Wait For glitter, Minx or Salon Effects manicures, wait for 5 minutes before removing a foil wrap and seeing if the polish easily comes off. With Shellac or Axxium polish, Deborah recommends waiting 10 minutes. Don't wait too long or the cotton pad will dry out, causing more of a mess.
Wipe If there's leftover glitter or polish on the nail (glitter is especially hard to remove because the flecks don't dissolve with polish remover), saturate another cotton pad with remover and wipe down the nail. You may need to use an orange stick to gently peel off an edge of the polish. If the polish still won't come off, don't scrape the nail, but repeat the first steps and leave the aluminum foil wraps on a little bit longer. Check here for more tips on how to remove glitter nail polish.
Buff If there's any sticky residue left behind, gently buff against the grain with a soft buffer. Avoid any buffing tool with a motor or a rough, sandpaper-y texture because that will thin out and weaken your nails.
Shine Apply a little cuticle oil on nails for extra hydration.
Share your tips to remove Shellac nail polish below!