The safest way to do it

We’re going on to week two of self-isolation, for some it might have been three or four weeks.

Regardless, if you’re someone who is a regular at the nail salon for your gel, shellac or SNS manicure, right about now you’ll be feeling the pain of your nails growing out.

And due to the current suspensions in place in Dubai, which includes nail salons, it’s now down to you to get that gel nail polish off to give your nails a breather.

Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered as Hillary Kozma, owner and founder of Dubai salon Kozma and Kozma, shared a step-by-step guide with EW on the correct way to remove your nail polish. And no, please do not resort to peeling it off.


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Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • Acetone (the strongest nail acetone you can find) pure acetone is the strongest, but you can also use other concentrations of acetone, as long as it is at 70% acetone or more. (Acetone free nail polish removers or those with very little acetone in them will not be effective to remove gel nail polish.)
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Cotton pads, preferable the flat ones used on the face
  • Tin foil
  • Gentle nail file
  • Cuticle oil
  • Hand cream.

“Important note before you start: Acetone, especially pure acetone) will cause your nails and surrounding skin to be very dry,” Hillary says. “Do not use if you have a skin condition or a open wound. Do not exceed 15 minutes soak off timing.”


  1. Using your nail file, gently buff the surface of the gel polish to remove the shine. Soak a piece of cotton pad in acetone and place over each nail. Securely wrap in tinfoil. Hillary recommends you do one hand a time, to keep one free for texting or Netflix – definitely a handy tip. Set the timer on your phone for 10 min. avoid going over as you don’t want to burn and damage your nails and skin.
  2. After 10 minutes, open the foil and have a look. The gel should have lifted away from the nail bed a little. Encourage removal by gently pushing at the gel with a cuticle pusher. Be careful not to scrape the nail. If the gel does not lift off easily, soak for another five minutes and recheck.
  3. Repeat on the other hand.
  4. Once gel has been removed, file softly into desired shape and length.
  5. Wash your hands with soap to remove any acetone residue.
  6. Apply cuticle oil and massage into the surface of the nail and cuticles. This is a super important step in order to get your nails hydrated again, as the acetone is extremely drying and harsh. Hillary recommends the NSI Nurture Oil, as it contains jojoba oil and grape seed oils with vitamins C and E.
  7. Finish with a hand cream to lock in moisture.  See some of our editors’ favourite hand creams to keep your hands hydrated here. Hillary also recommends the Coral Bliss hand cream.

If you can, it’s best to give your nails a break. And it’s the perfect time to do so given none of us are going out apart from a few jaunts to the supermarket or the pharmacy here and there.

As for getting the goods you need for getting through the whole gel removal process, Kozma and Kozma have got you covered for the NSI Nurture Cuticle Oil and the Coral Bliss hand cream offering free delivery. They also have a code for EW readers – if you mention emirateswoman2020 (this expires when salons open back up) you’ll get 15% off. Just email

However, if you’re in need of the full kit Bedashing Beauty has got you covered if you order from bgX. Even better, the recently launched app can get to you as quickly as 30 minutes, and you can opt-in for ‘no contact’ delivery where your items are left on your doorstep.


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While it’s nice to pamper yourself at home, here’s hoping we’ll be able to get back to our regular beauty treatments soon!

– For more about Dubai’s lifestyle, news and fashion scene follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram.

Images: Instagram. Feature Image: Unsplash