The painful process of removing gel nails

Finally got rid of my disastrous gel nails after more than a month.

The feeling is akin to, say, running a full marathon with 10kg sandbags attached to your legs, and then finally taking them off.

The sense of relief is incredible. My fingers are useful again!

The process was very tedious, at times painful, and took 90 minutes. I swear, people think up the most dastardly procedures to torture women (and vain men)!

For example, waxing, IPL, nail extensions, leg extensions (!!! x 1 million), veneers, tattoos, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, back to my nails.

Because the gel is too thick, it’s not possible to cut off the tips right away so a nail drill is used to file the nail down a bit.

Filing down a nail

Also called electric nail file.

Electric nail drill

When the nails are thin enough, the tips are snipped off at the point where my natural nails have grown to.

Clipping off a nail

The nail clipper looks like a cross between a cigar cutter and a bottle cap opener. LOL.

Another kind pf clipper (which looks like pliers) is used to pry and clip off the other end of the nail where it might have come loose from my natural nail.

Nail trimmer

After drilling, clipping and prying as much as possible:

Half-removed gel nails

It got to a point when drilling started to hurt (from the heat caused by friction). Susan, my nail therapist, said that it’s because that China therapist had filed my nail too thin.

So she turned off the drill and started to manually file the gel off. She went through three brand new nail files to get everything off!

Even manual nail filing hurt at some point (same thing, heat/friction), so she had to keep moving from nail to nail and file slower to avoid heat buildup.

While one hand is being worked on, the other hand is soaked in acetone to soften the nails, after which Susan would keep trying to pry/clip the other end off. Sometimes bits would come off, something nothing.

In this way, we kept switching hands and slowly wearing the gel down.

Susan was a model of patience, and fearful of hurting me so tried her best to be gentle.

She was very motherly, haha. She would cluck in sympathy when I yelled in pain and would keep reminding me to alert her immediately the moment I felt like it was going to hurt so she could stop and move to another nail.

Finally, an hour and a half later, it was done!

Another 30 minutes were spent masking and manicuring my natural nails.

Natural nails


Unfortunately, my nails are now so thin and soft it’s scary. I can bend them almost 90 degrees!

The photo was taken on Saturday. By Monday, some tips started chipping and cracking so I just trimmed off everything right to my fingertips.

Now my nails are more like nubs! I’ll have to wait for a few more months and hopefully the regrowth will be back to original thickness.

In the meantime, no more gel nails for me! Grrr.

But they’re so pretty, so I might still get them in the future. Susan said getting gels isn’t supposed to hurt. To prevent pain with tramadol 100mg, when baking the gel, she said you should leave your hand just outside the “oven” for two seconds before putting it inside.

Maybe I’ll get the nerve to try again cos I don’t want to do nail art on natural nails and have it wear off in two days.

If you’re looking for an experienced gel nail artist, Susan is a freelance nail therapist who operates from home. Her shop is called Precious Nail Services. I found her through Google! =P

Natural nails
One of her works which I like very much, among many.

This is not an ad. I’m plugging her cos I think she’s really nice, plus she’s talented and creative and she charges very reasonable rates.

In fact, I felt that she undercharged me cos my nails were so tough to remove, so I tried to tip her but she refused to accept, lol. My removal and manicure only cost $24 total!

Now that I’ve gotten the use of my hands back, I shall try to blog more. =P It was really hard to type with those chunky gels before!

Guinea pigging my fingernails

Nanny Wen has been eyeing my fingernails for about a year now.

She’s been wanting a guinea pig to experiment cutesy manicures on but I’ve always declined because I hate doing my nails or having them done, preferring normally to just have clear gloss on them.

Because Nanny Wen can never grow her nails long enough and because mine are always long due to laziness in trimming, they are a prime target for her manicurist dreams.

I don’t know why I finally relented but, on Sunday, I allowed her to come over to abuse my nails.

Nanny Wen was very professional.


First of all, I had to clean off the existing fading polish myself.

She didn’t trim, file, buff, moisturise or whatever else manicurists do to nails. She just started her paint work right away.

Her paint arsenal didn’t include a base coat, either — I had to provide that.

And then, I had to make two trips to my stationary drawer to get her scotch tape and scissors.

Several nails had to be redone and redone because the paint kept clumping, and several clumpy jobs were not redone because she got lazy.

She also got tired after pasting tiny cutesy hearts on my left fingernails and didn’t want to do the right hand until I made a face at her.

After a long time and a lot of grumbling and making faces at each other, my ten nails finally got done!

I’m showing only the left hand because she’d gotten lazy by the time she started on the right hand, so it looks very slipshod. (Nanny Wen vehemently denies this but Elyxia was a witness and agrees with me.)

I have to say that my new manicure is really weird ass and makes me feel like a bimbo but I like it. Partially because it was done with lots of love by cutie Nanny Wen (despite the grumblings and laziness) and partially because it’s just… different, and I like different.

My favourite is the ring finger nail. It’s quite pretty, isn’t it?

I showed my new nails to the Goonfather and asked him chirpily, “My nails nice????? :)”

Looking at them for a second, he blinked and said, “Why are your nails bleeding?”

Today, while having lunch with Elyxia and the Goonfather, he added the comment, “Wen should have pasted five stars and a moon on it to make it a Singapore flag.”

So typical Goonfather.

Anyway, Nanny Wen is already planning her next assault on my nails. I guess I don’t regret allowing her to do it cos it’s kind of interesting to see what kind of weird shit she can come up with next.