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How To Get Pen Off Of Gel Nails [Hacks That WORK]

Are you looking for an easy, effective answer to how to get pen off of gel nails, without damaging them?

If so, then keep reading. I’ve got some helpful step-by-step instructions on how to remove pesky pen marks from your beautiful gel nails without risking any damage.

Woman with beautiful baby pink gel nails with a glitter topcoat

Why Are Gel Nails So Easy To Stain?

Gel nails are a type of artificial nail enhancement that gives the wearer a long-lasting, glossy finish.

This type of manicure is popular due to its durability and ease of application. However, one downside to gel nails is that they are susceptible to staining from hair dye, pen ink, and other substances. 

The major reason for this is that the ingredients found in gel nails allow pigments from foreign substances to stain them more easily than regular nail polish.

Gel nails contain acrylic monomers that combine with oxygen in the air when exposed and eventually harden into a plastic-like material. 

The porous nature of these monomers allows stains to penetrate deep beneath the surface of the nail, making them especially difficult to remove without damaging your nail beds or ruining your manicure. 

Some products contain additional colorants or glitters, which can also increase their chances of becoming stained by various pigments or dyes on contact. 

Another factor which makes gels easy to stain is their longer wear time compared with standard nail polishes.

Since they can last up to 3 weeks, depending on how well you take care of them during removal and maintenance; this increases your exposure time to any potential staining agents you come into contact with over those few weeks. 

To avoid staining your gel nails, it is important for you to be diligent about avoiding contact as much as possible with anything like pens ink or hair dye, as well as always use protective gloves when conducting housework or garden work.

How To Prevent Stains On Your Gel Manicure

When you have a gel manicure, it is important to make sure that your nails remain stain-free.

To prevent stains on your gel nails, you should always be sure to wash your hands before food and after any activity that could cause dirt or oils to get onto them.

When coming in contact with potential staining agents like pen ink and hair dye, be sure to wear gloves so that these materials do not come into direct contact with the polish.

After each activity, it is also a good idea to clean your gel nails with water and mild soap.

If you notice any persistent discoloration on the surface of the nail polish, you can use rubbing alcohol or acetone-free nail polish remover on a cotton ball or pad to gently remove the stain without affecting the base color of the polish.

How To Get Pen Off Of Gel Nails

Removing pen off of gel nails is possible and doesn’t require a trip to the salon. To easily remove these stubborn stains, start by trying toothpaste.

Wet your finger and dip it into some toothpaste before gently rubbing it, to remove the ink, and get your nails back to perfect again.

Wipe off with a damp cloth afterward. 

If this doesn’t work, try using acetone nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad or cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover, to see if that removes the stain or mark. 

You can even try mixing baking soda with water and dabbing it onto your nail for about 30 seconds before wiping off with a damp cloth. Or use soap and water mixed in a bowl.

In more extreme cases of pen on gel nails where traditional methods don’t work, you can try using a mixture of water mixed with bleach.

Then, try applying it to the affected area for about 5 minutes, followed by scrubbing to remove stains gently with an old toothbrush, before finishing it up by washing your hands in cold water. 

If you still find yourself unable to remove persistent stains, then you may need to seek help from professional nail artists at the nail salon.

Since they have access to more powerful cleaning materials than what is available over-the-counter, to clean gel nails stains.

Nail tech buffing a client's gel nails at a nail salon

How To Get Ink Off Acrylic Nails

Removing ink from acrylic nails, or shellac nails, can be tricky, but try a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.

Rubbing the stain for several seconds should help start to remove the ink stain from your nail.

If this technique doesn’t work, you might need to redo your stained nail by soaking off the acrylics with an acetone-based remover or soak-off wraps.

Doing this will remove all of the acrylic layers that have been stained by the ink, making sure no trace of the tattoo is left behind.

When redoing your stained nails, make sure not to leave anything behind, as residue will cause further damage to your new nails. 

It’s also important to ensure that when trying to remove ink from your acrylics that you don’t use anything abrasive, as this may damage both the natural and artificial layers of the nails. 

Use Hairspray To Remove Ink Stains From Gel Nail Polish

Removing ink stains from gel nail polish can be quite tricky. To make the process easier, you can use hairspray to remove stubborn stains that won’t come off with ordinary soap and water.

Hairspray is a great tool for cleaning surfaces because it’s gentle enough that it won’t damage your skin, but powerful enough to break up the stain molecules.

The most important thing is to always test a small patch of skin before applying any product directly onto your nails.

To start, ensure that all traces of the ink are gone before applying hairspray, as this will help prevent any further damage or staining.

Then spray an ample amount of hairspray onto the stained area and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes so that the alcohol in the hairspray has time to saturate and lift out the stain.

After a few minutes, have passed, use a soft cloth or cotton swab to gently wipe away any remaining residue, and then rinse with warm water. While this should remove most of the ink from your nails, it won’t remove any gel color from them. 

Use Isopropyl Alcohol For Removing Pen Stains From Gel Nails

Using isopropyl alcohol to remove pen stains from gel nails can be an effective solution. First, make sure to wash both your hands and the nail you are treating with soap and warm water.

After that, apply a few drops of isopropyl alcohol directly onto the stain. The liquid should start to break down the surface of the stain until it has vanished into nothing.

After that, use acetone or nail polish remover to cleanse any remaining residue from the surface of your nails – enough to remove the stain.

You can then apply a clear topcoat if necessary before re-applying any fresh color or decorations as desired. 

Isopropyl alcohol doesn’t only work as a spot treatment for pen stains; it can also be used to clean surfaces and remove residues related to other products, such as shellac or glitter polishes.

Woman soaking her gel nails in a bowl of mouthwash to remove pen stains from her nails

Use Micellar Water On A Cotton Swab

To use micellar water on a cotton swab, start by wetting the cotton pad with lukewarm water and squeezing out any excess liquid before dipping it in the micellar solution.

Gently rub the pad onto the stained nail until it starts to lift off.

Once you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible, dry your finger with a paper towel or tissue and apply a small amount of acetone-free cuticle oil on top of the stain and allow it to soak in for 1–2 minutes before wiping away any excess oil.

Make sure that you always wash your hands after using this method so that no residual oil remains on your fingers.

Use Alcohol Wipes

Start by using an alcohol wipe to gently clean off any dirt or debris that may be on the nail. Next, take another wipe and saturate it with acetone or polish remover.

Rub the pen stain in circular motions with the wet wipe until the stain is gone. If needed, you can use a small brush to ensure you get into hard-to-reach areas like cuticles and around the top edge of your nails.

Once the stain is removed, use a fresh dry cotton pad to clean any remaining residue away before buffing your nails with a soft cloth.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is a great natural product for removing pen stains from gel nails. First, pour some ACV into a shallow bowl, then soak the stained finger in it for about 10 minutes.

You may need to gently remove any excess nail polish with a cotton swab or a soft cloth if any is present.

After that, gently scrub away at the stains using an old toothbrush and the ACV mixture until all of the stain has been removed.

Rinse your hand afterward with water to get rid of any remaining vinegar residue. If there are still traces of the stain left behind, dab some fresh lemon juice onto it and let that sit for another 10 minutes before rinsing off with clean water again.

This should help to lighten up whatever remnants were left over from the pen ink on your nails.

Use Coconut Oil

It is possible to remove pen stains from gel nails with coconut oil. Start by applying a generous amount of coconut oil to the stained area. Rub it in gently and be sure to cover the entire stain. 

Allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping off or rinsing with warm water. You may need to repeat this process several times.

If the stain is still present after multiple attempts, try soaking a cotton ball in coconut oil and placing it on the affected nail for twenty minutes.

Afterward, gently rub away any remaining stain with your finger or an emery board.


Removing pen off gel nails is possible, but it requires patience and a gentle hand.

The best way to remove common nail stains without damaging your gels, is to use a combination of products including toothpaste, rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover on a cotton pad or ball, baking soda mixed with water, an old toothbrush and soap and water mixture, or hairspray. 

You can also try using micellar water on a cotton swab, as well as vinegar or coconut oil. If none of these household items methods work, you may need to seek professional help from the salon.

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