Need to remove your gel polish but don't have time for the salon? Heres how to do it at home. Find a Well-Ventilated Space. The process can't really be done in a rush — you'll need about 30 minutes. Break Out the Nail File. Start by using a coarse nail file to gently (and slowly) sand down the top layer of gel to remove the shine. Next, coat the skin surrounding your nails and fingertips with a cuticle oil or a thick cream.