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How to Get Pen Off Gel Nails? – 6 Safety Methods

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to get pen off gel nails

Gel nails are a favorite among many, but their composition makes them susceptible to staining, especially from pigments in foreign substances. Unfortunately, avoiding contact with everyday items like pens is challenging.

So, how to get pen off gel nails? To remove ink pen stains from gel nails, you can use both chemical products like hairspray and alcohol, or natural ones such as coconut oil.

In this article, we’ll provide you with effective techniques to get pen-off gel nails. Keep reading to find the one that works best for you.

Ways to Get Pen Off Gel Nails

Method 1: Using Hairspray


Hairspray is a cleaning agent that’s safe for your skin. It does all this without affecting the vibrant gel color on your nails, keeping your manicure intact.

Before you begin, remove any leftover ink from the surface of your nails. Now follow the steps below!

  • Step 1: Apply a generous amount of hairspray to the ink-stained area.
  • Step 2: Let it sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the alcohol content in the hairspray to seep into and break up the stain.
  • Step 3: After a few minutes, use a soft cloth or cotton swab to gently erase the remaining residue.
  • Step 4: Rinse with warm water, ensuring the ink has been removed. If the stain is gone but has left a bad look behind, you can use a Sharpie on gel nails. The marker can cover that perfectly.

Pros: Dissolve the pen stain quickly
Cons: Its additional ingredients could potentially damage or weaken the gel nails

Method 2: Using Gel Polish Remover


Gel polish removers typically contain acetone, which is a powerful solvent that can effectively break down ink pigments.

  • Step 1: Saturate cotton pads with a bit of gel polish remover
  • Step 2: Place a soaked cotton pad on the ink stain, ensuring the stained area is covered completely. Leave it there for 10-15 minutes, giving it enough time to dissolve
  • Step 3: Carefully remove the foil and cotton pads from each nail
  • Step 4: Wash your hands with mild soap and water to remove any residue from the gel polish remover. Afterward, apply nourishing cuticle oil or lotion to moisturize your nails.

Pros: Remove ink stains effectively. It’s also convenient and easily accessible.
Cons: Can be drying to the nails and cuticles with excessive use

Method 3: Using Alcohol Wipes


Alcohol wipes are useful to remove ink from nails. This method can be applied to many types of artificial nails, including gel or acrylic nails.

Here is how to get pen ink off acrylic nails or gel nails.

  • Step 1: Use an alcohol wipe to gently clean any remaining residue on your nails.
  • Step 2: Take another wipe and dip it in acetone. Acetone works well for removing stains from both gel and acrylic nails.
  • Step 3: Use that wet alcohol wipe to rub the pen stain in circular motion.
    This gentle rubbing motion helps to loosen and lift the stain from the gel surface. With a permanent marker, this process may take longer.
  • Step 4: Once the stain is gone, use a fresh, dry cotton pad to clean any dirt from the nail, and then gently buff your nails with a soft cloth.

Pros: Cheap and Good at removing stains.
Cons: May not be as effective for deeply ingrained or stubborn pen stains.

Method 4: Using Isopropyl Alcohol


Isopropyl alcohol is another powerful gel pen ink removal.

  • Step 1: Wash your hands and the stained nail with soap and warm water.
  • Step 2: Apply a few drops of isopropyl alcohol directly to the stain. The alcohol will gradually break down the stain into nothing.
  • Step 3: Once the ink is invisible, clean any lingering ink from your nails with acetone or a nail polish remover.
  • Step 4: Apply a clear topcoat or repaint your nails as desired.

Not only for gel nail polish, but you can also use alcohol to get stains off acrylic nails and others.

Pros: Effectively breaks down pen stains on gel nails.
Cons: Can be harsh on the skin and nails, leading to dryness or irritation and worsening acne if used excessively.

Method 5: Using Coconut Oil


Did you know that coconut oil can be used to remove ink stains from hands and nails? Coconut oil is a natural and gentle alternative to harsh chemicals.

  • Step 1: Ensure that your painted nails are clean and free from any dirt or debris.
  • Step 2: Take a small amount of coconut oil and apply it directly to the stained area on your gel nails.
  • Step 3: Using your fingertips, gently rub the coconut oil into the stained area. Apply light pressure and use circular motions to work the coconut oil into the stain.
  • Step 4: Leave it there for 10-15
  • Step 5: After that, take a clean, dry cloth or cotton pad and gently wipe away the coconut oil and the dissolved pen stain. Wash your hands with clean water.

Pros: A natural and gentle alternative that also provides moisturizing benefits.
Cons: Requires more time and effort compared to other methods.

Method 6: Using Apple Cider Vinegar


Another natural and effective way to remove stains from gel nails is by using apple cider vinegar (ACV).

  • Step 1: Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water in a bowl to create a vinegar solution. This dilution helps to ensure that the vinegar is not too strong for your nails.
  • Step 2: Dip nails in the mixture for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Step 3: After soaking, take a soft brush or a toothbrush and gently scrub the stained areas on your gel nails.
  • Step 4: Once you have scrubbed the stains, rinse your nails thoroughly with water to remove any remaining vinegar solution.
  • Step 5: After the stain removal process, it’s essential to moisturize your nails and cuticles to keep your nails healthy and hydrated.

Pros: Have cleansing properties and can effectively dissolve ink stains on gel nails.
Cons: The strong odor of apple cider vinegar may be unpleasant to some.


Knowing how to get pen off gel nails is essential for maintaining their pristine appearance. With various effective methods at your disposal, such as using hairspray, isopropyl alcohol, coconut oil, or ACV, you have options to tackle ink stains.

However, it’s crucial to remember that gel nails are susceptible to staining, so handle them with care and be mindful of contact with ink or other pigmented substances. Regular cleaning and prompt stain removal are key to preserving the beauty of your gel nails.

With these techniques and proper care, you can enjoy long-lasting, stain-free gel nails.

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