How to Remove Sticky Residue from Gel Nails Without Alcohol

How to Remove Sticky Residue from Gel Nails Without Alcohol

Most people and generally most instructions tell you to soak and wrap your fingers in acetone and tin foil or those little clips you can put on them.

Now, I know that using alcohol is pretty normal because it definitely works and there’s no question about it. However, if you belong in the category of those who frequently change their nail polish, soaking your fingers in that much acetone often can dry out your cuticles, make your nails brittle, or make them peel and split up the sides.

And moreover, soaking off the gel polish can be very time-consuming.

This brings me to the purpose of this piece as I’ll be revealing to you different things about gel polish application and the easiest way to get your gel polish off without using alcohol.

But before then, I’d like to take some time to share with you on the overall concept of how a gel polish works.

What Causes Gel Nails to Become Sticky During Curing?

Depending on the brand of gel polish youโ€™re using, the sticky residue will remain as a result of exposure to oxygen which prevents the gel polish from curing completely. The sticky residue is known as the inhibition layer.

The Inhibition Layer

This is the tacky layer that remains on gel polish once it’s cured. It feels sticky when touched and it’s essentially the leftover residue of the uncured monomers in the gel.

However, keep in mind that because it feels sticky doesn’t mean that the gel isn’t cured. So, how do you get rid of the residues?

How to Remove Sticky Residues from Nails

Upon noticing the sticky residue on your nails, you’d want to get rid of them. So, how do you go about this once you’ve done your base coat, color coat, and topcoat?

It’s simple: get a clean pad. It could be cotton, a paper towel, or a lint-free wipe. Make sure that whatever you’re using is nice and clean.

After that, dampen the pad with alcohol and gently wipe off the nails. Keep in mind that the alcohol volume required must be 90% and above because if you use an alcohol volume that is less than 90%, it will dull away the shine and glossy look on your nails.

Therefore, keep away from under 90% alcohol volume because it breaks down the gel polish and you don’t want that when you’re only trying to wipe residues off.

Alternatives to Rubbing Alcohol for Nails

  1. Grit File

Before you go on using a nail file to get rid of gel polish, keep in mind that you must use a base coat to keep your natural nails protected.

Head to a supply store and get a 180 grit file and use it to remove the topcoat of your gel polish by applying light pressure on your nail while moving the grit file along the surface of your nail and around the edges.

Next, you need a white block. Use the white block to give a light buff over your natural nails to remove any base coat that might be lifting, and blend in the remaining base coat into your natural nail.

As you well know, using a grit file will roughen the surface of your nails. So endeavor to apply both your gel residue remover and cuticle oil after filing off the gel polish to restore your nails’ nice and glossy look.

  1. Toothpaste

Since toothpaste is abrasive, you can use it by applying a small amount to your nail then use water to rinse afterward.

  1. Hand Sanitizers

Again, you can use a hand sanitizer as an alternative to rubbing alcohol. Dampen the cotton ball with the sanitizer and use it to clean the nail.

  1. Deodorant Spray

Another thing you can use is a deodorant spray remedy. Simply spray your nail with the deodorant and wipe it away using a cotton ball. Keep in mind that making this work requires a few tries. So, keep at it until your desired result is achieved.

What to Do When Nail Polish is Sticky and Wonโ€™t Dry

The most likely cause of sticky nail polish is when you apply a very thick layer. A fast way to dry your nails is to submerge them in cold water after applying your polish. This will come in handy especially when you donโ€™t have the patience to wait for your nails to dry.

But a more effective way to deal with a sticky nail polish is to treat the nail polish itself and not the fingernails. Below is how to go about that.

How to Restore and Prevent Sticky or Thick Polish

When your nail polish gets sticky, itโ€™s as a result of exposure to air. Therefore, follow these steps to thin your polish.

  • The first thing you have to do is to clean off the brush with some polish thinner. This will remove any sticky or dried up clumps stuck in the bristles.
  • After that, take the polish thinner and apply 2 to 3 drops of it into the bottle.
  • Close the cap and roll the bottle between your hands to mix instead of shaking as it helps prevent bubbles.
  • After all these, your polish will be back to normal and easy to apply again.

Also, endeavor to keep the neck of the bottle clean by using a polish remover or acetone. When dried polish builds up, it makes it difficult for the cap to close completely thereby letting in air.

Gel Nail Finishing

The most commonly used products on the market to give your nails the expected nice and glossy finishing are rubbing alcohol and polish remover.

When itโ€™s finally time to wipe your gel nails, I recommend you use a cotton swab in combination with castor oil as itโ€™ll keep your nails healthy.


Having some of your polishes thicken can be a bit of a bummer especially if itโ€™s one of your favorites. If it doesnโ€™t apply right it can be a big mess. So, endeavor to follow the tips given in this article and I assure you that you wonโ€™t have to go through any troubles dealing with sticky nails anymore.

Itโ€™s imperative to note that you should avoid using a polish remover or acetone to thin your polish. Although this works temporarily but eventually itโ€™ll break down the formula and ruin your polish.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top