Dry versus Wet Manicure: Which is Best for Gel Removal?

What are Dry and Wet Manicures?

Dry manicures involve a waterless technique using specialized tools like electric nail files and diamond nail bits, which allow for quick exfoliation and product removal. This method is generally faster and helps preserve the health of the nail plate.

Wet manicures require soaking the nails in water or other solutions to soften the cuticles, which can complicate the removal of dead skin cells and lead to product lifting or damaged nails.

What is the Difference Between Dry and Wet Manicures?

A dry manicure is a waterless approach using an electric nail file. It’s more effective and allows nail techs and nail DIYers to exfoliate the nail quickly, remove the product, and more in a timely manner. 

Wet manicures include soaking nails in water. This approach is used to soften cuticles but makes it difficult to remove dead skin cells. Because of this, wet manicures tend to lead to product lifting and dry skin. 

How Does This Affect Gel Removal?

Our primary goal is to remove gel polish quickly and efficiently. We want to ensure that we provide our clients with the best service, and the type of manicure you decide to do will make a huge difference. 

Wet manicures take longer to complete since it requires soaking before product removal. You’ll then have to scrape the remaining product off with a cuticle pusher, which can potentially damage the nail plate. Dry manicures lead to long-lasting, and more beautiful results. They’re also the best option for maintaining an overall healthy nail.

Time is incredibly important for any nail service because it’s how nail professionals make money. Clients don’t want to pay for a service that’s going to take an hour or two to complete and leave with damaged, bad-looking nails, or nails that break a few days later.

In this YouTube video, I compare soaking vs. e-file removal! 👇

Dry Manicure Gel Polish Removal

Step 1: Use the Gel X bit at 25,000+ RPM to remove the color (Note: Since it’s a carbide bit, you don’t want it to touch the natural nail plate. Only use this bit if there is a base layer under the color). Use the dragging method to prevent heat rather than rocking the bit back and forth in both directions. 

Step 2: Next, take the Zebra Sanding Band at 12,000 RPM to remove any product lifting. This is a great option when you're removing product close to the natural nail plate.

Step 3: Using the same tool, reduce speed to 4,000 RPM and prep the nail plate. Roughing the surface makes it easier for product to adhere and stay on the nail plate.

Step 4: Take the diamond Unicorn bit and exfoliate cuticles at 7-13,000 RPM.

Wet Manicure Gel Polish Removal

Step 1: Use the Gel X bit at 25,000+ RPM to remove some of the product.

Step 2: Soak nails in acetone until gel is easy to remove. This can take up to 15+ minutes.

Step 3: Scrape the remaining product off of the nail with a cuticle pusher. 

Step 4: Take the diamond Unicorn bit and exfoliate cuticles at 7-13,000 RPM.

Which Method is Best?

Whether you’re a professional nail tech with years of experience or a new nail DIY'er, we recommend that everyone uses the dry manicure method to maintain the healthy and strength of the nail plate.

Why dry manicures for gel removal?:
  • It leads to better, long-lasting results
  • Faster product removal 
  • Best option for maintaining healthy nails 
  • Prevents product lifting 

Perform dry manicures if you’re looking to achieve the best nails possible in a timely manner. Remember, no one wants to spend the time or money on a poor service.

Comparative Efficiency in Gel Removal

Dry manicures are preferred for gel polish removal due to their efficiency and less damaging nature. The process involves using an electric file to exfoliate and prep the nail plate with diamond nail bits to ensure manicure longevity.

Wet manicures, though traditional, are less efficient. They require soaking the nails in solutions like acetone, followed by manual scraping of the gel product, which can be harsh on the nails and lead to prolonged exposure to chemicals.

Maintaining Nail Health and Aesthetics

Regardless of the method, it's crucial to maintain nail health by using techniques that minimize damage to the nail plate and cuticles. Regular maintenance and proper technique are key to ensuring long-lasting, beautiful manicures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the main benefits of dry manicures?

A: Dry manicures offer quicker and more effective gel removal, reduced damage to the nail plate, elimination of hangnails, and better overall nail health.

Q: How can wet manicures lead to nail damage?

A: The soaking process in wet manicures can cause the nails to become overly soft and susceptible to cracking, which can lead to product lifting and poor-quality manicures.

Q: Are there any specific tools recommended for dry manicures?

A: Yes, electric nail files with carbide bits are recommended for product removal because of their efficiency and ability to minimize heat and friction, which can prevent nail damage. Diamond cuticle bits are recommended for cuticle exfoliation and nail plate prep.

Choosing the right manicure technique can greatly impact the health of your nails and the durability of your manicure. While both dry and wet manicures have their places, dry manicures are generally better for gel removal due to their efficiency and gentleness on the nails. Incorporating the right tools and techniques will ensure that your nails remain strong, healthy, and beautiful.

If you’re new to dry manicures, consider checking out our YouTube channel here to learn the basics. With a little bit of practice, you’ll become a nail pro in no time! 

March 21, 2023 — Erica Schlabach