NailMates for Gel Polish Removal

Hi all!  I was sent a new product to try for gel polish removal called NailMates.  NailMates are re-usable caps and pads that can be used to remove all types of nail polish and nail treatments including gel polish.  I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at first because I thought that the use of acetone might damage the product, but I’ve been using these for a few weeks now for all of my removals and have been very pleased with how well they work.

Here is what the packaging looks like.  I used my NailMates for several weeks before taking this photo, so my package may look a little worn, but it’s still in pretty good shape.  A package of NailMates comes with 10 caps and 20 removal pads. Review of NailMatesSome of the advantages of using NailMates for gel polish removal are:

  • They are reusable, so you don’t need to use tons of cotton balls and foil any more.  I was informed that the removal pads will last for many many uses, and they last even longer if you rinse them with water after each use.  After a while the inserts may start to break down and replacement pads can be purchased.  Mine are still in perfect condition after being used several times so I think they will last for a very long time with repeated use.
  • They are one size fits most.  These caps should fit on most finger sizes.  If a finger or thumb is too large to fit, you can easily cut a slit in the back of the cap to adjust the size.
  • They don’t drip!  When using NailMates, you apply acetone to the round tip of the pad since that’s the end that gets inserted into the cap.  If you don’t use too much acetone, they don’t drip at all.
  • They are nice and snug, yet still allow movement of your fingers.  With a little practice I found that I was even able to hold a nail polish brush and polish one hand while soaking off the other!  LOL

This is what my mani looked like after prepping for removal.  I roughed up the surface of the nails with a file and applied some cuticle oil to my skin (I find that this helps prevent my skin from drying out during removals).  You can find more details about this mani here. Review of NailMatesThis is what a cap and removal pad look like.  You apply acetone to the round part of the pad and insert it into the cap, and then slide your finger into the cap so that the pad is resting on the nail. Review of NailMatesThis is what it looks like after all of the NailMates have been applied. Review of NailMatesI even took a side shot to show you how nice and snug they are. Review of NailMatesAfter soaking for 10-15 minutes, my polish had lifted nicely and was ready to be pushed off with an orange stick. Review of NailMatesThis is what my nails looked like after removing all of the polish.  You can see that the white pads did turn a little pink from the caps.  I’m told this is normal.  Some of the pads that I’ve been using for several weeks are very pink, which could also be because the remover that I use is pink as well.  The insides of the caps look a little wrinkled from the acetone exposure, but they are holding up well and it doesn’t seem to have affected their shape or durability.

The very first time I used NailMates I had a horrible soak-off, but I came to learn that it wasn’t the product that caused the problem, it was a really stubborn gel polish.  I used three coats of a Fingerpaints glitter polish and it took about an hour to remove.  All of my removals since then have taken the same amount of time as it takes with foil and cotton (about 15 minutes total). Review of NailMatesI really enjoy using NailMates for gel polish removal and will continue to use these for future removals.  If you’re interested in learning more about NailMates, please visit their website at

NailMates can be purchased at

Update 2/1/15:  To help with the longevity of this product, the caps and pads should be properly cleaned and cared for.  Please read these instructions for NailMates care.

You may also like...

65 Responses

  1. Judi says:

    Great post!! Thanks for recommending. I don’t know if you’ve seen these. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about them. They’re very easy to use. The only trouble is, since there are spaces on the sides, the acetone starts to evaporate. First I was unsure, then I decided I loved them and ordered more, but now I’m on the fence again. Certainly worth trying though, for the price.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Judi – thanks for your comment. I removed the link since I generally don’t allow outside links in the comments. I haven’t used any of the clip style soakers, but I’ve heard that they are prone to evaporation. I didn’t have any evaporation issues with the NailMates, and there’s no dripping. Plus the little inserts are re-useable which is also nice.

      • Judi says:

        Oh my, I’m so sorry. I won’t do that again. I just thought you’d get a kick out of them if you hadn’t seen them. I’m very excited about the Nailmates!!

  2. Kathy says:

    Oh man, I love your website! As a newbie to the world of gel, I am having a ball playing with polishes and techniques. The soak off is such a bummer though. This nailmates product looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks Andrea!

  3. Judi says:

    Just ordered the Nailmates. Thanks Andrea!!

  4. Diane Dube says:

    Thank you for this review.

  5. Amanda says:

    Thank you for sharing! I just order me some! I love your sight an do a lot of “choosing colors” thanks to your swatches! Would love it if you did more “how to” videos!

  6. Pari says:

    Thank you so much for this review! I just ordered a set, and I can’t wait to try them. I’ve been using those rubber fingertips you get at the office supply store with a cotton pad covering my nail. It works okay but it’s still messy and drippy, and I can only do one hand at a time. I often put off doing my nails because the removal can be a pain, but hopefully this will solve that problem. Thanks again. I love your blog! :)

  7. Erika says:

    Oh I must try these!!! I tried to soak off an acrygel mani, and I STILL have some powder after an hour of soaking :( I did have about three coats; lesson learned there :)

  8. Amanda says:

    Have you seen or tried the kind without a pad? (Kind of a bubble you fill with remover and then it suctions to your finder tip) I need to buy something like this and am trying to decide. Thanks for posting this review!

    • Andrea says:

      I haven’t tried them, but I heard they leak.

      • Amanda says:

        Thanks, ill try these instead!

      • Tamara says:

        Yep, the bubble ones leak and they were so tight on my thumb that they cut off my circulation. I had to sit with my fingers facing the ground to keep the acetone in. I am going to try these!

    • Judi says:

      I’ve tried the bubble/suction thingies…they’re terrible!! I’d explain all the ways that they’re terrible, but I wouldn’t now where to start. Read the reviews on Amazon…they tell the truth. Yuck!! ;)

  9. Katharine in Brussels says:

    Thanks Andrea for this review, I just bought some. Hopefully they will ship to Belgium. They ship to Palau which is even further away and is a foreign country, so fingers crossed–if you will :) It’s really a great concept, glad you showed these. I also tweeted to both of you so hopefully you will get linkbacks. Yay!

  10. Stacie says:

    Hi Andrea! Thanks for this review. I am curious have you used these to remove other brands than Gelish? If so, did the removal for those other brands take any longer than the 15 minutes?

  11. Echo says:

    I just tried to order but I don’t think they ship to Canada :( They rejected my address saying my items could not be shipped. Any other Canadians have any luck? Sent in an info request to find out. *Keeping my fingers crossed*

  12. Sharon says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love your blog!!! I just ordered a set. I love the gel but I loathe the removal! I always have to ask my hubby to help me wrap the foil on my second hand. We’ve nicknamed the whole process salad fingers. Lol.

  13. FlamingJune says:

    Just ordered these. The price seems reasonable if they work!! I have been searching for an alternative to the foil method (which, for some reason makes my skin crawl!) I tried nail wraps (the stretchy sports wrap with pad attached), but that dried out too easily and would sometimes take an hour for me to remove my polish. I kept trying, though, because I really wanted it to work! These seem nice, but I am slightly worried by the one size fits all approach. I have HUGE thumbs, so we will see if I can even get these on :)

    • Judi says:

      I just got mine a few days ago. They’re definitely convenient and will save money. I have found though that the little sponges dry out a little too fast. I had been quartering those cotton cosmetic squares, when I use the foil method, so I tried it with the Nailmates and it works great.

    • Andrea says:

      NailMates said that you can cut a slit in one of the caps to fit a larger thumb.

    • FlamingJune says:

      I wanted to update now that I have used the nailmates.


      I was able to remove the polish from all 10 nails simultaneously, and the soak off time was only 10-15 minutes. Six of my nails were polish free after the first check – 4 had to go back on for 5 minutes. I cannot believe how much easier and faster this is than foil. And the nailmates magically fit both my man-huge thumbs and my tiny pinkies.

      Honestly, the whole process from sit down and figure these things out to polish free fingers was less than 30 minutes! The last time I removed gel polish using the foil method was a >hour long ordeal.

      Thanks so much Andrea for reviewing these. I would never have heard of them otherwise and honestly these have turned the worst part of gel nails into something “not really that bad” – lol!!

  14. ann says:

    hello, i want to buy also the playmates but they don’t ship to Belgium, i send now a message and wait to see if they will do or not, otherwises i find 1 seller on ebay
    thanks Andrea for youre Blog and i can not wait to see your summer Trends colors(3 to go yes?) hihihi


  15. ann says:

    love your swaches, very helpfull
    thanks a lot

  16. Amie says:

    They are now shipping internationally! I just ordered and I’m in Canada and shipping was free by snail mail.

  17. Ashley says:

    Hi Andrea, I tried the nail mates once and left them on for about 20 minutes. I had an ombré manicure with Belisha nailpolish. It didn’t work very well and I had to re soak them a couple times. Do you have any hints for how to get it to work better? I use the Gelish brand of remover. Thanks!!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Ashley – I’m not familiar with that brand of polish. I assume it’s gel? I had a hard time removing one type of polish, but it was a clear glitter polish – those tend to take longer to remove in general. I haven’t done anything different or special for my soak-offs with the NailMates.

  18. Lynette Keir says:

    I bought these on your recommendation and am so glad I did. I’ll never use any other method now………until the next best thing comes along! :-) The first time I put my “Nailmate-ed” hands in plastic bags just to be sure about drips, evaporation etc. Not necessary!! These are the best. Thank you. Thank you.

  19. Julie B says:

    HURRAY! Ordering my set now! They have a Summer Special going on with 40 removal pads instead of just 20 in the kit, and it’s $14.00 with free shipping. Thank you for sharing this Andrea – I’ll be so glad to be done with the icky foil! ^^Flaming June – I agree, the foil makes my skin crawl too, no clue why!

  20. Stephanie H says:

    I just ordered through your link. I am excited to try this. I have been doing gel on myself for about three years now and the soak off process is the most obnoxious part of it. I find I don’t soak long enough because I am a busy mom and just have too much to do. I am hoping that this will keep me soaking a bit longer so I can be more gentle when I am changing polish. I got a bonus of an extra 20 removal pads so I think this is a great value. Can I ask…do you use plain acetone or are you using one of the branded soak off solutions (ie gelish soak off). I find straight acetone dries out my skin. Did the cuticle oil fix that? Thanks!

  21. Theresa says:

    Just want to say I have recently purchased the nailmates and I used them for the first time today and absolutely loved them. They were so easy to use and they stayed on. Also they didn’t take long to soak off the polish. Well worth the purchase and I would recommend them. So much better than the cotton and foil system.

  22. Cheri says:

    Thank you so much Andrea for sharing this. I love using gels and, like most, can’t stand taking them off! ;) After reading all of the above I just bought a set. Can’t wait to try them. And if anyone is wondering, their summer sale is still going on.
    P.S. love love love your site!

  23. Cheri says:

    How do you clean the pads?

  24. Cheri says:

    I used them for the first time last and I’m in awe! I cannot believe how much easier the removal process was. Goodbye foil and cotton!

  25. Jane says:

    Thanks for the link to NailMates. I have now used these 3 times. The first time I had trouble but realized I did not put enough acetone on the pad. The other 2 times have been wonderful! I am thrilled to be done with cotton pads and foil.
    For my little fingers I found that putting one of the dry pads in with the acetone pad made it fit tighter.
    Love these!!!

  26. Anne says:

    Like others, I am so glad I bought these. I have used them twice now and removal was a breeze. Both times I had a lighter polish on my nails and so removal times was less than 15 minutes, but I had to accent with glitter on them (over gel polish) and I just filed that off and removal was easy. Now I won’t dread the removal!!

  27. Gel fanatic says:

    Thank you for you’re introduction to these. Bought them a few weeks ago along with the bag of 200 pads these are awesome . So happy with the results .

  28. Tiane says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I was wondering how you are getting on with the nail mates, now that you have been using them for a good while. I was specifically interested how often you have changed the pads, as in your review they were new and had not been changed yet. I have not found any references to how long the pads last although I have seen references to your continued use of the nail mates in some of your reviews.

    Many thanks,

  29. Anita says:

    Great review. I would love to try these.

  30. Sandy says:

    I JUST ORDERED MINE!!!!!!! Sooooooexcited to get my NailMates!!! TIRED OF FOIL!!!!!

  31. Kim says:

    Andrea, I have a quick question for you regarding the NailMates. I ordered my a few months ago (after seeing them here on your blog) and have not had a lot of success using them. I contacted Chris at NailMates and she very kindly responded to me within hours and then called me to help figure out my problem. Based on our conversation, I have a couple of questions. I can put these on for 20+ minutes and still my polish is not soaking off. I’ve been using the Pink Gellac Primer and polish and either the Gelish Top It Off or Pink Gellac Shine. Because of some lifting/chipping problems I had I do rough up my natural nail before applying the Primer. Can you think of any reason why I would have such a hard time removing the gel? I rarely use glitter and I always rough up the surface before soaking. Twice I’ve had primer/base/1 coat color/top coat plus 2 coats color/top coat and it took marginally longer, but even with a normal primer/base/2 coat color/top coat manicure it takes 20 minutes plus another 10 at least to get the polish off and I am having to use the orangewood stick to scrape extensively. Sorry for the long post, but I’d love to have the same results that it seems everyone else is having.

    • Andrea says:

      Are you putting the primer on the whole nail? That can make soak-offs take longer. You should only apply the primer to the tips unless you have major issues with lifting. Having a top coat in the middle layers also slows down the soaking process. I usually file the top coat off really well and get down to the color layers. You can also try applying heat during your soak off by putting your hands under a heating pad or with the use of heated mitts. Some peoples’ nails just naturally hold polish better.

      • Kim says:

        Andrea, thanks so much for your reply! I think it may be a combination of these things. I had a nail chip today (a not uncommon occurrence on my right/dominant hand). So I soaked off the remaining polish. I filed away the top coat nearly completely and really soaked the pad. After 10 minutes, the polish didn’t exactly slide off but was easy to remove with the orangewood stick. I do put the primer on the whole nail, but may try just the tips. I’m hopeful that I’ll get this figured out and love the NailMates as much as everyone else seems to. I’m very impressed with the immediate and very helpful replies I’ve gotten from Chris at NailMates, along with you! I’m really having fun with doing my own nails again, and having it last for more than a few days! Thanks again for your help and your wonderful site!!!

  32. Lynette says:

    Kim, I need to put primer around the back and sidewalls and tips but NOT the center of the nail . If I don’t do this I get lifting. Yes, soak-off ( with my NailMates!) takes a speck longer. I’m pretty sure I got this tip from Andrea!

    • Andrea says:

      Right, you should only use primer in the spots where you have lifting issues. If you don’t experience lifting, primer isn’t needed at all.

  33. Joyce says:

    I bought these based on your recommendation and just used them for the first time. Love them! Only took 10 mins to soak off, so much easier and faster than using cotton balls and foil.

  34. Heather says:

    I absolutely love your blog Andrea. I just came across this review while reading another post of yours. This might be a stupid question but I’m a nail tech and wondered about the sanitization of these. Could they be used on different clients or would you suggest having a separate set for each client?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Heather – I posted an update at the bottom of this post that gives some info on how to care for the NailMates. The caps can be disinfected, and you would need to use a new set of inserts for each client since they are porous. :)

  35. Erika says:

    I finally got around to trying these, and they are awesome!!! I do my own gel nails from time to time, but have always loathed the removal.
    I cannot believe how well these worked, and how my hands did not feel nearly as dry as with the typical removal process.
    Next time, I’ll do one hand at a time, as it was a little tricky getting them on the 2nd hand. :)
    They really do work very well, and now I will be doing more gel manicures.
    Thanks for blogging about this product.

  36. chris says:

    Hi Erika, One of the main features of nailmates is giving users the ability to applying to both hands at once. Apply acetone to the removal pad and insert it into the cap. Prepare all additional caps the same and slip all 10 fingers in at once. Its really quite easy!!! Let me know how that goes. Chris

  37. Leslie Ann says:

    I love my NM’s, but I have a really hard time getting off the polish. Are there different acetone strengths? I no longer use primer on my tips. I used these after a salon polish (which convinced me I loved gel polish) and the polish came off fairly well. I use your Pink G. at home and it barely comes off after 1/2 hour. Help pretty please. I’ve read all your blog posts. I can try heat next. I’m trying for thinner and thinner coats of the polish. Love your blog, it’s my go-to for all this.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Leslie Ann. If you’re having difficult removals try filing down as much of the top layers as possible before soaking, and definitely apply heat. Good luck!