Soak-off from hell!!!!


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Apr 3, 2003
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Well, I spent a good 2hrs lastnight getting my bio gel sculpts off a client. It was horrendous and extremely embarrassing. She wanted sculpts re-applied afterwards, so in total, I was with her for nearly 4 hours!!!! It has really knocked my confidence which until them was sky high.

My client had received 4 infills (with me) since I applied her sculpts, but still, the enhancements were nice and thin & natural looking (I hate those horrible clumpy things). Apart from one nail which had seen better days, they really didn’t need to be removed, but I have been taught that 4 infills is the maximum and after that you should soak off. So that’s what I done.

Here’s how I worked:

1) I buffed down the top of the gel, saturated cotton wool with soak off (that I had warmed first) and applied it to the top of the nail, then done the chicken drumsticks with foil.

2) I left my client’s hands on a hot water bottle with towels over for 25mins.

After that time hardly anything had shifted. It took me another hour and half to get it all off. What on earth am I doing wrong? I have to add that I am a perfectionist and even though it took so long, I was very pleased with the finished natural nail result. There were no signs of stress (except in my face!!!), and her nails were left in excellent condition.


Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can improve the soak off procedure so it doesn’t take 2 hours!!!!

Also, can anyone suggest why we have to remove an otherwise perfect enhancement just because of the amount of times they have been rebalanced?
maceyratbags said:
Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can improve the soak off procedure so it doesn’t take 2 hours!!!!

Also, can anyone suggest why we have to remove an otherwise perfect enhancement just because of the amount of times they have been rebalanced?

I dont really do gels but one way of maybe reducing the time would be to buff off more before soaking.

Call me cynical but I dont believe that taking off perfectly good enhancements serves any purpose other than making more money for the technician and ultimately your supplier. This does not sound in the clients nails best interest. After 4 rebalances - if a rebalance and not just an infill - the nails should be virtually an overlay as the tips would have grown off - depending on length obviously.

If there are no problems like major lifting or curling or cracking then I dont see the point in removal.

I'm a mostly gel user currently (all about to change though :) ), I use Light Elegance at the moment and I'm pretty sure it's a different 'make-up' to Bio but here is what I do to remove..... I buff the gel down to a very thin overlay with a soft file, this doesn't take as much time as you would think!, then I wrap the nails like you do for 20 mins to get the last scraps off. I only remove though when I absolutely have to, if the client is happy and the overlay is still good and clean it gets filled! One of the biggest pains for me with gel is the removal process, like if there is over 40% lifting you can't just wrap and soak and this can cause the client some discomfort but having said that I get less lifting with brand of gel than any other. Hope this helps! Jx p.s. my partner and I did a 'mini-tour' around Wales this year after my op, started at Llandudno(sp) and ended up at Rhossili where we go about once a month for a relaxing weekend!, I loved Abersoch it was sooo chilled!
Hi Ange

Firstly I would check if Bio Sculpture is a gel that can be soaked off - I'm really not sure about that. If not, then it's a buff off job I'm afraid.

But the good news is, you don't have to just do four rebalances and then "start afresh" - completely unnecessary. I often use the analogy of hair colour. You're doing the roots when you reapply zone 3!!

Soaking off is really not the best for our nails - it's extremely dehydrating as you can imagine and also to the skin. Avoid it - I think it's a last resort. I always try and save a cracked or lifted nail before I get the acetone out. Many clients will go for years just rebalancing and rebalancing without any soak off and their nails underneath remain the same. No need to let them breathe etc.

It sounds like you did everything right - warm acetone, lamb cutlet thing!! If Bio Sculpture is a soak off gel, maybe do the bowl thing rather than the cotton wool saturated thing. Although your technique should really have shifted it.

let me know!!
Thanks for your replies. Bio Gel is indeed a soak off for removal rather than file.

I think I will use my own initiative on this one rather than following a 'rule book' and will only soak off if I need to. Lastnight was totally unneccessary (apart from the one nail which I could have replaced).

If for any reason (intolerance to the enhancement for example) I have to do another soak off I'll just have to make sure that I buff down more of the gel than I did lastnight.

Moans aside, I'm glad the only problem I have come accross so far is how to get the enhancements off rather than asking how to keep them on!!! I love working with the Bio Gel, it's a real delight to use. I never fail to smirk at my client's expressions when they see how the sculpts are applied!

Thanks! :rainbow:
im still new to nails and was jus wonderin about your technique for removal of gels? what is it you actually do? can you do it with all gels?
No, not all gels can be removed by soak off. Bio is the only one I'm aware of that soaks off, the other gels are file removal.
I don't use Biosculpture, but I do use IBD which is a soak off type of gel.

One of the key points for gel removal is NOT to remove the fingers from the soak bowl / foil before the actetone / remover solution has completely worked.

If you remove the nail from the soak off too early, the gel will repolymerise harder than it was before! This results in it taking a huge amount of time and effort to remove it. It is a bit like the way loo rolls go if they get wet, then dry on a radiator.

Keep them in for at least the amount of time advised by your supplier, having buffed well first to break the seal and remove bulk.

Hope this helps.
Hi Ange,
As you know I use Calgel and I have never had a problem soaking-off in the same way as you do with Biosculpt ..... not until my last pot that is! For some reason it just didnt want to come off, and when it did it didnt come off 'clean' as it has before. Calgel say nothing in the product has changed but, its been a real pain for me. I dont know if it was a dodgy pot or maybe contaminated in some way :rolleyes:
I have some unopened pots of Calgel that I'm yet to try but, as I'm mid-way through my Creative Foundation I'm sticking to that for now - and loving it (never thought I would say that with l&p).
Good luck, I hope you sort it.
The companies that supply a 'soak off' gel probably recommend every 4 weeks because the longer you leave it on the harder it gets and the harder it is to soak off!!

If you are not having problems, keep it on but just be aware that the longer it is on the harder it will be to soak off.

I have been using Bio gel for about 18 months and I have never had a problem in soaking off. Like the other advice given make sure you buff the nail to thin the gel.

With regards to 4 infill - replace advice, I think you have to use your own judgement here. I had a client last week who requested a 'fresh start' she had the intial application in March of this year and has had 3 weekly rebalances since then. I have to say that the gel had yellowed abit over this time but on soaking off (20mins approx) the nail underneath was fab. She had a new overlay and was delighted.

Bio, in my opinion, is great for natural nail overlays but the choice out there now is huge.

I found this post intetresting, as I am new to gels but I am using Bio Sculpter gel. My first soak off yesterday, same problem, could not get the gel to move :? it was definately longer than the 20 mins my instruction booklet said. I will have to buff of gel bit more next time and keep foil on longer, need to get it right before I start on paying clients :oops:
maceyratbags said:
No, not all gels can be removed by soak off. Bio is the only one I'm aware of that soaks off, the other gels are file removal.

Reflex from Supply Source, Calgel and Elegant Glass also are soak off gels (rubber based)
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