VIDEO: The Painted Nail Steam-Off Gel Removal System Review


Introducing the latest in nail technology… Steam Off Gel Removal by The Painted Nail.  Many of you have asked for a review of this product, so I purchased one and have been testing it over the last few weeks.  I did a full video review with a demo, which you can watch below.


The kit includes:

  • Steam Off Gel Removal System
  • Power adapter
  • 4 oz bottle of bubble-scented gel remover
  • Orangwood stick
  • Instruction booklet

How it works:

  • File the top coat off of your nails with a coarse grit nail file.  Basically you have to break the seal, just as with a regular soak-off.
  • Plug in in the system.
  • Remove the lid, turn the finger cap to the open position and remove it.
  • Pour 5ml of the remover or acetone into the reservoir. There is a small plastic container with a line that has a 5ml marking so you know how much to pour in.
  • Replace the finger cap.
  • Turn the switch to ON.
  • Wait until you hear a beep.  This means the system is warmed up and ready to steam.
  • Place all five fingers into the finger cap.
  • Steam.  The steamer will beep twice at the 5 minute mark, and then there will be one long beep at the 10 minute mark.
  • Use the orangewood stick to remove the flaking polish.  If the polish is not loose, continue steaming.

I’ve tested a few different brands of gel polish with this system so far: Gelish, CND Shellac, Pink Gellac and Couture.  Pink Gellac and Couture both removed very easily, as you will see in the video demonstration.  Gelish and CND Shellac took about 15 minutes total.  Basically the unit warms up the acetone liquid and turns it into a vapor, and the heat and vapor combination cause the polish to soften and lift.

I had a very bad experience the very first time I used this steam-off system.  I was removing the Pink Gellac Luxury Gold glitter polish with a Gelish base after my vacation and I ended up with a LOT of damage done to my nails.  As I’m sure you can understand, my nails take a lot of abuse from trying so many different products for this blog so there was some existing damage prior to this soak-off.  I had been doing IBX treatments on my nails regularly and they seemed to be in pretty good shape before this removal… but this is what they looked like after 15 minutes or so of steaming. YIKES, right?!

steam-off-1I was really upset about the state of my nails as I’m sure you can imagine.  The top layers seemed to be just peeling right off.  After getting the remaining polish off, I filed them down, took a buffer to them and then did another IBX treatment (that’s a topic for another day), and they looked much better.  I was really hesitant to use the steam-off again, but I knew I had to take one for the team so that I could report it all back to you.  ;)  Below is what my nails looked like after the second removal.  Much, much better!  This was after removal of a Couture gel manicure, which generally soaks off pretty easily for me using the traditional method.  This steam-off took less than 10 minutes.

steam-off-2I’ve used the steam-off system a few other times since and have not had the issue of damage again, so I’m really glad I stuck it out and gave it another shot.  It seemed during that first experience that the heat and vapors softened my nail beds and really highlighted the existing damage.  I think that in the end my nails are healthier now that I’ve been able to buff away the damaged top layer.

Due to my experience, I’m hesitant to say whether I recommend this product or not.  I’m going to list some of the pros and cons and let you decide for yourself if it’s a worthwhile investment.


  • It works as stated.  Most gels steam-off in 10-15 minutes, which is comparable to traditional soak-offs.
  • The system is lightweight, portable and easy to clean.
  • Steaming is a more pleasant experience than soaking because of the warmth.
  • Steaming is less drying and harsh on your skin and nails.


  • Since it’s a one-hand system you can only remove the polish from one hand at a time, unless you purchase two units.  This is essentially doubling the removal time.
  • You can’t multi-task while steaming since your hand has to remain in the system.
  • It’s essentially warming up the acetone and creating vapors which may become airborne.  While most of it is contained within the system, I’m not sure that it’s healthy to be breathing in these vapors.  There is a warning that comes in the box that says “breathing large amounts may be harmful”.
  • It’s rather expensive at $99.99/unit.

The Steam-Off Gel Removal System can be purchased from  I also purchased the swatch strips and will be testing those out soon!

So what are your thoughts on the steam-off removal?  Will you, or did you buy it?

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57 Responses

  1. Jill Goodrich says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been eyeing this product since it was released trying to decide if it was worth it. You mentioned the IBX system and this is something I am very interested in. My understanding is it can only be purchased by a licensed professional. Have you been able to find it available to the general public?

  2. Jackie says:

    I wonder will this product still work if u use the sprinkled acrylic with ur gel polish.

  3. NancyG says:

    Thank you for this. I was quite curious about this. It does seem to do a pretty good job on basic gel polished nails. Still, at $99, it’s pretty darned pricey, so I’ll probably continue to use my Orly pocket removers and a nice warm flax bag. Those only take about 8 minutes for a damage-free removal.

    • Popolka says:

      NancyG can you please describe your method a little more? Where can I get flax bag? I am new to gel polish and using foil method. It takes me 20min to soak off. Thanks

      • NancyG says:

        I do a removal and re-application most Sunday evenings and it takes about an hour. Sometimes I wear my gel polish for three weeks. The longer I’ve worn the gel polish, the longer I allow for soaking. I use a variety of gel polishes, but generally use CND Shellac or OPI Gel Color base coat (which are both hybrid) and Gelish TIO. I use OPI Expert Touch remover and Orly Pocket Removers. I got my flax bag off of eBay – put in “heat bag” and you’ll get thousands. Some contain flax, wheat, rice, or corn, and often soothing or fragrant herbs like lavender. I heat the bag in the microwave for about three to four minutes. I usually buff the top coat a bit, but sometimes I forget to do it! Using a squirt bottle, I squirt remover onto the squishy pad in the Orly Removers, put them on my fingers, squishing them on my nails for full contact, and then place a towel and the flax bag on top. I sometimes squirt some more remover in halfway through. It usually takes about eight minutes before I can push the polish off and wipe with a remover-soaked pad. If I’m good and patient and wait a full ten minutes, I can usually wipe it all off. The Orly Pocket Removers are reusable and I use five for one manicure. Regardless of the remover wrap, the key seems to be keeping the pad saturated and in full contact with the nail. A full removal takes me about 25 minutes and there is no damage.

        • NancyG says:

          Oh, and I can only do one hand at a time. Those of you more dextrous than me can probably do two hands at a time and cut the time!

          • Lisa says:

            I don’t understand why you all feel the need to completely remove gel in the first place. I use a couple of layers of bottom coat gel first.. therefore, when I go to change the colour I am not actually drilling down to the natural nail at all. All my ladies have lovely healthy nails. I looked at this product to see if it was faster than drilling, but at 10-15 minutes I don’t think so.

  4. Great review – I’ve been really curious about this product. Since acetone off-gasses anyways, I would guess that we breathe in a lot of vapors, anyways. Though, it does seem a little iffy to be breathing it in for 10-15 minutes.

  5. ann says:

    Hi Andrea
    i like to try this but they don t ship it to Belgium
    i hope it come s soon to my country

  6. ann says:

    thanks for all your help full swaches
    go girl

  7. Anne says:

    Maybe one day, but I have been pretty happy with my nail mates. Maybe I’ll invest in a hand warmer!

  8. Karen says:

    Hi Andrea! How often are you doing the IBX treatments??

  9. Mal Timmons says:

    No Andrea, I won’t be buying! No difference in soak off time either. You are very brave trying this again!

  10. OtherLenora says:

    OH HELL NO! Acetone vapor is *super flammable*. Like borderline explosive flammable, not like “Ooh, nail polish is dangerous to ship” flammable. Forget lung damage- worry about the burns if there’s a spark.

  11. Suzanne C. says:

    I will keep using my nailmates for one quarter the price I have about a 5 year supply and I am mobile during that time. Sitting for an additional 30 min. would make me crazy.

  12. Ruth Palmitessa says:

    No. I’m going to pass on this. The vapors concerns me and the price.

  13. Michelle says:

    Great review!!! Thank you so much!! What is IBX treatment?

  14. Katie says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your review. If I may add a few points, I really think they’d be helpful.
    The unit does not actually “steam” it is a removal product warmer that heats it to the perfect temp for removal. Since your nails are enclosed in the unit and have silicon finger barriers, you are not breathing in vapors. This method is much less harmful to your health and way less damaging to your nails then traditional removal methods. In the first pic, your nails had damage previous to your removal with the Steam-off and it looks as if the gel was removed incorrectly many times before. As you can see in the times after, your nails look as though you never even removed gel from them at all. The product has been tested and proven. When used correctly, the results are amazing. I hope this helps clear up and confusion. Thanks and here’s to nail innovation for 2015. Keep up the great work!

    • Katie says:

      Silicone *sorry.

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks, Katie! I would love to see a two-handed unit. :)

    • NancyG says:

      @Katie – so are one’s fingers in the warm remover liquid or surrounded by the vapors of the liquid (in which case it is steaming)? Although this is a great idea and great that it prevents the damage that so many techs do, at ten minutes a hand this is much slower than wrapping methods during which the client must be still. Proper removal doesn’t cause damage, so the main benefit to this is moot for us. A two handed model is the only way this would work for us.

      • Katie says:

        It’s not for everyone, but thousands of people are already loving it. Some SOG takes less then 5 mins. It all varies on the brand and the application. I say never review something without trying it. I like opinions based on facts. Hope you give it a shot.

  15. Shannon says:

    Has anyone tried this with Acrygel?

    • Andrea says:

      Yes, it works with acrygel too. Acrygel doesn’t flake off like the polish, but it gets gooey and scrapes off.

      • renee says:

        Thanks for coming on here to answer our questions. What’s the answer to the question above? Is the nail soaking in warm remover/acetone or the vapors of the heated liquid? Exactly what is touching the nails? At $99, I can’t “give it a shot” without some more info.

  16. Glenda says:

    This winter I’ve started dipping my nails into wax after wrapping acetone cotton balls on with vetwrap. The heat speeds the removal, the wax seals in the acetone, and my fingers are much cozier. I’d recommend this to anyone who already has a pedicure wax bath.

  17. Lynette says:

    Soooo glad I waited to read this! I did not realize the machine is only intended for one hand at a time!! I too need a thin layer of acrygel for strength so soak off time is already a bit longer. This would not save me any time at all. Nailmates recommended by Andrea for me!

  18. Adria says:

    The vapors concern me because I have a little one running around. For warmth I just use a buckwheat style heating bag and wrap that around my hand while using the cotton pad/foil method.

  19. Jackie says:

    Do you need to have your nail license to buy this?

  20. Virginia says:

    Thank you so much for reviewing this for us. I can see in the video that there isn’t any steam coming out of the machine to put vapors into the air so I’m not concerned with breathing in harmful vapors. I’ve read a few reports about acetone and it doesn’t seem to be harmful when used correctly.

    I’m a nail tech and would love to have this machine but I will wait till they make a two-handed one and the price comes down. It would take me awhile to recoup $200 for two machines. I love how it removes the product. Thanks again!

    • Andrea says:

      I hope the price will come down in time, and I would also love to see a two-handed unit. I’ve been using this a lot since the review and it really does work well, and my nails are getting healthier.

  21. Mabel says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for the review.

    I have been having difficulties removing soak-off gel using the foil method, it takes more than 50 minutes to remove the gel from one hand. I wanted to invest in a Steam Off but I live outside of USA. Do you know if the power adapter of the machine is 110V – 220V that I can use it in my country?

    I asked The Painted Nail via their Facebook but no one replied. :(

  22. Cat says:

    Thank you Andrea for the full demo .Yes can’t wait till they come out with a 2 handed one I definitely will buy one . I will be going to check out the everything nailz store looks fun more stuff to buy $$$$ ….. Katie congrats on all you’re accomplishments in the nail industry .

  23. Susan pierce says:

    What is a bx treatment?

  24. well i like your test on this product, however I had a comment regarding your new treatment from testing product I know IBX is the bomb but the cnd recuse treatment is awesome as well I use it under my enhancements and after several years of doing arcylic nails I am now wearing tradtional gel soaked off my nails and nails are healthy with the use of OPI Axxium gel system hard gel.

  25. Maria says:

    Can you use any regular acetone based polish remover with the steam off?

  26. Vickie Girardi says:

    i bought 2 Steam off’s & I love them & my clients do also
    Because it works and it leaves their nails and finger tips
    In great condition. Therefore I don’t mind if it takes 5 mins more.
    It is worth the cost and time because keeping my clients
    Nails in great condition is why I am a Nail Tech & it’s why
    They come back to me.

  27. ann says:

    i buy, but i does not work
    i use Gellish but above my 2 colors layer’s i put a layer off structure gel from gelish and end with top it off
    is this the reason why i does not work with the steam off?

    • Andrea says:

      Structure gel soaks off, so I’m not sure why it wouldn’t work. Be sure to use a file to break through the top coat seal.

  28. Danielle says:

    What do you use/suggest for acetone storage/ dispensing? I soak off my gel by dipping cotton swab on acetone bottle and wrap with foil. Works great but I’m wasting/spilling a lot of acetone this way.

  29. Kim vo says:

    Can we use our own gel soak off after the aceton come with the package ran out? Or I need to purchase more of that liquid

  30. Johnag says:

    Best nail polish remover. Removes nail polish great and fast. Leaving nails shiny and helping keep the hydrated and as an added bonus it smells absololoutely amazing