I recently posted on social media that my current lockdown flex is that my gel manicure is still in tip-top shape. But to be honest, I don't know for how much longer I'll have this upper (well-manicured) hand, given the lockdown extension

I get a monthly gelish manicure done on my natural nails sans tips at Sorbet, and it usually lasts for about six weeks with no breakage. The only tell-tale sign is the regrowth that creates a stark contrast between my bare nails growing at the cuticles and the dark Gelish hues I usually pick. For now, that has not yet happened. Strange, considering the fact that I last did my nails the week before the lockdown was announced. 

READ MORE: DIY skin and spa treatments - Just because you're locked down, it doesn't mean your pores have to be  

Of course, at some point, I - like many others - will eventually have to soak off my nails... without leaving the house. I have a colleague who's already a pro at the home soak-off, but for the rest of us who aren't, I've done some homework (and applied my memory from previous nail appointments) for us. 

But first and foremost, do NOT peel your gel polish off - that damages your nails as much as acrylic overlays do.

Alright, now queue your Netflix series of choice, and let's begin. You might already be familiar with the step-by-step process from your own visits to the nail salon anyway. 

What you'll need

- coarse nail file 

- cuticle oil or moisturising hand cream

- acetone (try Clicks or Dis-Chem

- cotton wool (preferably cotton balls)

- aluminium foil 

- nail stick or cuticle pusher (if you don't have one, use another bluntly sharp object to scrape the gel off)

- nail buffer/ polishing block

File it away

The first step involves filing the top coat off. Don't file down too much, though. Now you can apply cuticle oil or hand cream to protect your nails from the acetone you're about to douse the cotton wool - and your nails - in.  

Soak it all in

Soak each cotton ball in acetone. Wrap the cotton balls around each finger. Secure with squares of foil. Let soak for about 15 minutes. Leave on for a bit longer if your gel hasn't lifted off your nail.

About the foil: Cut your foil into ten squares (no bigger than a coaster) beforehand.  

Removing gel Polish from nails. Woman pours remove
Image: Getty 

Scrape it off 

Once the gel has lifted off your nails, scrape it off each nail. Apparently there was a dental floss hack found on Tik Tok, however, New York manicurist Jin Soon Choi told Allure that "the only time gel can be removed with dental floss is after the edges of the polish have lifted off the nail bed, but it must be done with great care.The risk of using floss too vigorously is pulling off not only the gel polish but part of your actual nail as well."

And now proceed to buff your nails for that salon finish. Apply cuticle oil and moisturise your hands again to hydrate your nails because much like alcohol dehydrates your body, acetone dehydrates your nails. 

Alternatively, you can also shop this kit online at Takealot, as it's available under their list of essential beauty items: 

Pretty & Polished professional gel removal kit, R350

gel removal kit at home

Or post-Covid-19, treat yourself to an SOS Soak Off Solutions kit from a proudly South African, woman-owned, Cape Town based business.

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Each SOS retail kit contains three soak-offs - that's three months you save on a salon soak-off. It is a professional gel polish soak-off packaged for home use. The product was borne from a need for an alternative to having to go into the salon for a soak-off, it is a product of convenience and simplicity. 

SOS is for soft gel polishes only, NOT for acrylics, hard gels or hybrids.

Each kit contains:

1 buffer block

30 pre-cut foils

30ml Soak off Solution

1 cuticle stick

1ml cuticle oil

While many salons use straight acetone, the Soak off Solution is infused with Argan Oil and Vitamin E to counteract the drying effects of the acetone.

Happy soaking!

Additional information provided by SOS (part of Split End Distribution Pty Ltd) 

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