Back in March 2020, we got in touch with some of Ireland's top beauty gurus for lockdown beauty tips regarding everything from botox and gel nails to waxing and self-care - you can read it back here.

Almost a year on and many of us will be struggling with those same beauty quandaries, especially when it comes to our nails.

If you treated yourself to a fancy manicure before Christmas and are now facing a month or more of overgrown glitter art, fear not. Topical Popical's Andrea Horan has shared some sage advice.

First things first: "Don't pick off your gel polish and don't pop off your extension." Andrea's tip is a simple but necessary one as picking off polish or removing extensions yourself can severely damage your nails.

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Removing your gel or acrylic nails at home is not advised. However, in light of the current circumstances, Horan has posted step-by-step tutorials on the Topical Popical Instagram for anyone willing to be a "Beauty Bear Grylls".

Even better, coming from a self-proclaimed "non-nail artist", the tutorials use only what you're likely to have at home. So, if the temptation is too much to resist, shed your nails with their handy guides.

To remove gel nails, you will need:

  • Soft nail file
  • Nail polish remover (with acetone)
  • Cuticle oil (or coconut oil)
  • Tinfoil
  • Scissors
  • Cotton pads
  • Cuticle stick (or a teaspoon)
  • Nail buffer (optional)
  • Nail clippers (optional)

Step 1: Cut your cotton pads into slightly bigger than nail-size pieces

Step 2: Cut off a piece of tinfoil and rip it into ten strips. 

Step 3: Using your buffer or soft nail file, very gently file the top layer of the gel polish. You're looking to break the seal, not remove the polish. You should not see any nail coming through.

Step 4: Soak your cotton pads in nail polish remover and put them directly onto your nail. Wrap in tinfoil and leave for 15 minutes or so until the polish begins to lift from the nail slightly.

Step 5: Using a teaspoon (or a cuticle stick if you happen to have one at home), scrape the polish off your nails.

Step 6: Cut and file your nails if necessary before covering them in cuticle oil (or coconut oil).

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Be warned, removing extensions at home will be difficult. If you're desperate, you can do this process yourself but, if possible, leave it to the professionals.

Before you do anything, you must determine whether your extensions are gel or acrylic as they will require different removal methods.

Acrylic is an acrylic powder that is activated by an acrylic liquid so there are two steps rather than one. Gel simply comes straight from the pot. So, think back to your appointment and determine which type of extension you have.

To remove gel extensions, you will need:

  • Nail clipper
  • Soft nail file
  • Cuticle oil

Step 1: Cut the extensions back using a nail clipper.

Step 2: This is the tricky part. Using a soft nail file, gently but firmly buff the gel polish off your nails. This process will take some time but don't be tempted to rush it. If you buff too harshly or quickly, you may damage the nail. You want to take most of the polish off but leave a thin covering on the nail. You don't want to see any nail coming through.

Step 3: Smother your nails in oil. Cuticle and nail oil would be best but any oil will do in a pinch. This will allow the remaining gel to slide off over the next few days.

Step 4: Don't pick at the remaining gel! Be patient and you'll be rewarded with healthy nails.

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To remove acrylic extensions, you will need:

  • Soft nail file
  • Nail polish remover (with acetone)
  • Cuticle oil (or coconut oil)
  • Tinfoil
  • Scissors
  • Cotton pads
  • Cuticle stick (or a teaspoon)
  • Nail clippers

Step 1: Cut the extensions back using a nail clipper.

Step 2: This is the tricky part. Using a soft nail file, gently but firmly buff the polish off your nails. The process may take some time, but don't be tempted to rush it. If you buff too harshly or quickly, you may damage the nail. You want to take most of the polish off but leave a thin covering on the nail. You don't want to see any nail coming through.

Step 3: Cut cotton pads into nail-size pieces and soak them in nail polish remover. Put the pads directly onto your nail, wrap them in strips of tinfoil, and leave to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Step 4: You will likely need to repeat the above step a few times to loosen the acrylic. Then, you can gently scrape it off the nail with a cuticle stick (a teaspoon will also do).

Step 5: Apply lots of cuticle oil to nourish your nails.

Remember, when it comes to caring for your nails in a lockdown, the focus should be on keeping nails clean above all else. You may consider trimming and filing your nails down to make this easier. Avoid cutting your cuticles at home as this may result in injury.

Finally, Andrea has some top tips for keeping your nails strong and healthy throughout lockdown:

  • "Keep cuticle oil beside all the sinks in the house so you can reapply every time you wash your hands."
  • "A really rich hand cream at night, like a mask would be a dream."
  • "Stressed nail biters, be strong and get a stress ball for every time you might go for your nails."