2 Ways to Remove Hard Gel at Home (With & Without Drill)

Ways to Remove Hard Gel at Home (With & Without Drill)
Ways to Remove Hard Gel at Home (With & Without Drill)

I have been working with hard gel nails for many years now and the main question that I get is Can you DIY remove them at home? and then followed by how to remove it.

Thankfully you can easily remove hard gel at home. So in this article, I am going to:

  • Guide on the 2 different ways to remove hard gel nails and
  • Share with you some tips to keep your natural nails safe during removal.

Related Article – Hard Gel Extensions: How to Apply, Benefits & Risks

Can You Use Acetone to Remove Hard Gel

You cannot remove hard gels by soaking them off with acetone like how you would usually remove acrylic or gel polish.

This is because hard gel is completely non-porous meaning that it cannot absorb chemicals like acetone. This also makes hard gel stain-resistant.

Instead, hard gel nails must be filed off with either a hand nail file or a Nail Drill.

Related Articles:

How Much Do Gel Nails Cost & How Much to Remove Them

4 Easy Ways to Remove Gel Polish at Home Without Acetone

BIAB Gel: How to Remove at Home & When & How to Infill

How to Remove Hard Gel Nails Using a Nail Drill

What you are going to need:

  • Nail Drill/ E-File
  • 100/180-grit hand nail file
  • Nail clipper


  1. Firstly take a nail clipper and remove any excess length from the gel nails.
  2. This reduces the amount of filing required
  3. Next, use a shortening bit on your nail drill to file off the gel. Use gentle quick sliding motions
  4. And try to file in one direction. I usually file from the cuticle area of the nail to the tips.
  5. Once you have filed enough and have reached the base coat layer meaning you can see your natural nails
  6. You can then take the 100-grit part of the hand file and then file off the rest of the gel.
  7. Finally, you can use the 180-grit part to buff and smoothen out your nails.

I have a short video below that will show you how to file them off.

Related Article – 10 Tips to Make Gel Nails Last Longer – No More Lifting

Video of How to Use a Nail Drill to Remove Hard Gel Nails

Recommended Nail Drill

My favorite nail drill for beginners is Melody Susie’s Drill – which is affordable yet powerful enough to remove Hard Gel.

It might not be as powerful as those used in salons so it might take a bit longer to file off the hard gel but it’s perfect if you are not yet confident with a nail drill.

The Melody Susie’s Drill also comes with a bunch of bits that will work perfectly for hard gel. You can click here to see the price of one on Amazon.

You can click here to see a 100/180 grit hand file that I use for hard gel.

How to Remove Hard Gel without a Nail Drill

You can remove hard gel without using a Nail Drill or E-File. You can do so by manually filing it with a coarse hand file.

This method will take a long time but if you have patience you can slowly file away your hard gel.

  • Firstly use a nail clipper to remove any excess length on your gel nails
  • Next, take the coarse part of your nail file and then file the gel and try to file in one direction.
  • File until you reach your natural nail.
  • You can switch to a lower grit nail file such as a 180 grit to buff out your nails.
  • You can check out the video below to see how it’s done.

You can click here to see a 100/180 grit nail file that I use when working with hard gel nails.

Video of How to Remove Hard Gel without a Nail Drill

Tips to Safely Remove Hard Gel Without Damaging Your Nails

1- Do not let the nail drill work in one area for too long

If you let the nail drill idle in one area for too long it will cause overheating and even burning. So instead constantly move the nail drill across the nails.

2- Use Light Motions

Once you have a good nail drill you don’t need to push down the nail drill instead you just need to gently press or glide it across the gel.

3- Use the correct Nail Bit or Nail File

If you are using a nail drill you will need to use a nail bit that is made for shortening or removal most nail drill kits will have them labeled.

Now if you are manually filing the hard gel off using a hand file then I recommend using a 100 grit nail file. This is coarse enough to quickly remove the hard gel.

Other higher-grit nail files will take a longer time to work.

4- Switch from a nail drill to a hand file if you are a beginner

I recommend if it’s your first time using a nail drill then you should just remove some of the gel with it and do some of the work with a good hand file.

5- Use Colored Hard Gel During the Application

By using colored hard gel allows you during removal to more easily spot when you have reached the base coat or natural nails.

This allows you to stop filing and thus prevents damaging your nails.

6- Apply a Good Thick Gel Base Coat

Using a good thick base coat will help to protect your natural nails during removal since it acts as a buffer to protect your nails from being filed.

What you can do is use a thick base coat maybe a rubber gel base and then apply your hard gel. Now when it’s time for removing them you can file off the hard gel and then soak off the rubber base gel with acetone.

You can click here to learn more about rubber base gel coats.

7- Wear a Mask or Use a Dust Collector

Filing off hard gel nails will create a lot of dust that you don’t want to inhale. This is why I always wear a face mask during manicure removals.

Also, if you do removals often at home you can also consider investing in a dust collector which sucks up dust whilst they are filed off. This helps to keep your room nice and clean and really saves you time when cleaning up.