There are four main ways to remove the sticky residue on your gel nails you can use:
- Isopropyl Alcohol either in the form of alcohol wipes or lint-free cotton pads soaked with alcohol to wipe the residue off.
- Gel Cleanser
- A small amount of non-acetone nail polish remover to wipe it away.
- A DIY Gel Cleanser using household chemicals that contain a high concentration of alcohol.
1. Isopropyl Alcohol
The most common, budget-friendly, and effective way to remove the sticky or tacky layer on top of your gel top coat is to use Isopropyl alcohol.
The alcohol will dissolve the sticky layer (which is uncured gel polish) making it easy to wipe away. Citation.
I usually use and recommend using alcohol wipes. These wipes come in individual packets and are soaked with 70 percent Isopropyl alcohol. To use them all you need to is open them and then wipe your nails.
You can click here to see the price for a box containing 2000 Alcohol wipes, on Amazon. Dynarex is the brand that I use, they come in the perfect size to clean off your nails.
Though alcohol wipes are a bit more costly in the long run, I find them very convenient, professional-looking, and hygienic which is perfect for dealing with clients.
Alternatively, if you want to be more budget-friendly especially for your personal use, you can use Lint-Free Cotton Pads and just soak them in alcohol and then wipe your nails.
Always use a fresh alcohol pad to wipe one nail at a time and then dispose of the cotton pad.
Do not reuse a cotton pad to wipe and clean multiple nails.
You see if you reuse one pad to wipe more than one of your nails your manicure will look very dull and won’t have that glossy look.
This is because you are transferring the tacky layer from one of your gel nails to another.
What is the Sticky Residue Left On Your Gel Nails
The sticky residue that remains for some brands of gel polish is the polish that wasn’t cured properly.
This occurs because the oxygen in the air prevents the gel polish on the surface or top of your manicure from curing completely leaving a tacky or sticky residue called the inhibition layer. Citation.
It’s important to understand that you don’t need to remove the sticky layer from every layer of gel polish. You just need to wipe off the sticky layer on your top coat.
The sticky or wet layer from your base coat and gel polish will cure completely once you apply the other layer over it and the sticky residue actually helps to bond the layers together.
2. Gel Cleanser
A gel cleanser is a chemical designed to dissolve and remove the tacky or sticky layer from your gel polish.
They can also be used to clean any oils and moisture found on your nail plates before applying your gel polish to promote better adhesion.
Gel Cleansers are very effective but are a lot more costly in comparison to using alcohol.
If you are interested, you can click here to see the price of Gelish Gel Cleanser on Amazon.
3. Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Now if you don’t have any Isopropyl Alcohol or a Gel Cleanser you can use a small amount of acetone-free nail polish remover along with a lint-free cotton pad to clean off the sticky layer.
But only use a small amount if not you can potentially weaken your gel manicure.
You should never use any acetone based polish remover to wipe away the tacky layer this would greatly weaken your gel nails.
4. A DIY Gel Cleanser
If you are completely out of options and you are desperate you can use certain household chemicals that have a high concentration of alcohol to clean off the sticky layer.
Chemicals such as; Lysol, Hand Sanitizer, Perfumes should be able to work.
Though it’s important to note that these DIY Methods won’t be so effective like Isopropyl Alcohol or a Gel Cleanser and might potentially ruin your manicure.
Now if you don’t like cleaning away the sticky or tacky layer, you can always consider investing into no wipe top coats.
No Wipe Top Coats are top coats that cure completely and don’t leave any sticky residue that needs to be wiped away.
I have an entire article on No Wipe Coats, you can click here to learn more about them and to read about my recommendations on the best no wipe top coats.