Choosing the best nail polish remover is no easy task. You need to know the ingredients to look for, the pros and cons of each type of remover, what works best for what lacquer and even alternatives to go for. How much do you understand about nail polish removers? Be it little or a lot, this guide will enlighten you about nail varnish strippers.
Discover the ingredients (both safe and toxic/unsafe), 100% Acetone vs non-acetone, best brands, remover pads, Pens & Pots, Homemade/ DIY nail polish remover alternatives: removing nail polish with nail polish removers plus more…
Nail Polish Remover Ingredients, Chemicals & how they work
What is a Nail Polish Remover
It is a powerful solvent that can quickly remove polish from the nails, cuticles, and surrounding skin. The two main types of nail polish removers are: acetone and non acetone. Most nail lacquer remover brands carry both types. It’s normally indicated right on the label. Sometimes, oil-based and water-based removers are also referenced as other types.
Looking at the label for ingredients used does not end with anti-aging products or cellulite creams alone. You will have to check for the ingredients of the best nail polish remover too. Many of the ingredients in cutex removers can be highly toxic especially if not balanced well. Here are ingredients found in most of the best nail polish removers:
- Ethyl Acetate
- Propylene Carbonate
When you are talking the best organic nail polish remover, or natural nail polish removers, the above ingredients, especially acetone may not feature.
Colourless, mobile, flammable liquid
|Carbonate ester derived from propylene glycol||Lithium batteries to create a conductive electrolyte|
|Colourless, odourless liquid
|Translucent, colourless, clear liquids with a fruity odors||Cosmetics
solvents in nail care products
|Translucent, colourless, flavourless substance
Derived from collagen (non-gelling)
Toxic Nail Polish Remover Chemicals/Ingredients
In addition to the above ingredients some nail paint removers ship in with toxic chemicals that are not good for your health. Below are them main three usually referred to as the the toxic trio
- Toluene, which is made from petroleum or coal tar. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus. In nail polish, toluene is used to give the polish a smooth finish.
- Formaldehyde, a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, and a known carcinogen (formaldehyde exposure has been associated with leukemia specifically). Formaldehyde is used in nail polish as a hardener and preservative.
- DBP(dibutyl phthalate) –The chemical acts as a binder to improve the lasting power of nail lacquer. But it’s also been linked to cancer in lab animals, and underdeveloped genitals and other long-term fertility problems in newborn boys. Environmental groups have mobilized to get DBP removed from all nail polishes sold in the United States.
How Nail Polish Removers work
As you’ve already noticed, a nail polish remover is basically a a solvent. The solvent is composed of substances like like acetone /ethyl acetate that work by dissolving the hard film that’s left on your nails after applying polish at your home or salon. The hard film contains nail polish ingredients such as resins, plasticizers, film formers and color pigments which all work to give you a nice even coat of polish that dries quickly and evenly. The bad news is that these ingredients are quite hard to remove. The good news? Nail polish removers! This is where they chip in.
100% Acetone Nail Polish Remover Dangers, Cons & Pros
100% or pure Acetone nail polish remover is considered the best and most effective because the solvent is powerful. However, the major downside is that it leaves your nails dry. The feel and look of your nails after use is not something that anyone can admire. That is especially if you over use.
As Dana Stern, a board-certified dermatologist and nail specialist, reports to the Huffington Post, super dry, damaged nails will get drier and more brittle with acetone exposure.
Stern further explains that lifted nails or nails separated from the nail bed (also known as onycholysis) should not be regularly exposed to acetone because the solvent will bathe the delicate, exposed nail bed causing irritation and further separation. She says that polish remover significantly dries out the nail, leading to brittleness, splitting, peeling and breakage.
She adds, “Acetone also dissolves the polish and makes the pigments migrate and leach. This process can cause post-polish yellowing.”
Blisskiss has offered some insightful tips to work around the drying effect acetone.
- Do not overuse. When use only once a week, the drying effect is temporary and quickly corrects itself.
- Rub some olive oil on your skin around your nails before removing your polish. The acetone will take that oil instead.
- Cover with aluminum foil to keep the moisture for example when working on glitter nails
- Use an acetone formula containing olive oil and vitamin E or try a DIY recipe like the one below
Safe DIY Acetone Remover with Emollients Recipe
- Ten Parts Acetone
- One Part Water
- 2 to 10 drops of Olive Oil (counteracts dryness)
- 2 to 5 drops of Vitamin E (fights free radical toxins)
Pros of acetone nail polish remover:
- It is very fast and efficient
- Can remove stubborn fingernail lacquers such as glitter nail polishes;
- Works best on fake nails.
- Effective for removing oils and preparing the nails for polish
Cons & Dangers of acetone nail polish remover:
- It has a very strong and unpleasant chemical scent
- It is harsh to the nails and skin
- It poses the danger of being toxic
- Acetone fingernail paint remover is extremely drying.-Because if removers can dissolve polish, they also dissolve oil…your skin’s natural oils.
- Can leave your nail beds very fractious and brittle
- Highly flammable.
- This nail polish remover on wood is not the best thing. So, use it far away from wood, otherwise you will have difficult-to-remove stains
Best uses and Brands
Best for: Acetone-based removers are said to work best when you want to do heavy duty fingernail paint removing. Also appropriate if you remove your infrequently, if you use really dark polish colors, shellac (no-chip) manicures
Here are some of the most popular pure acetone nail paint removers
- Onyx Professional 100% Acetone
- Mylee 100% Pure Acetone
- HAZ Pure Acetone
- ULTA Maximum Strength 100% Pure Acetone
- CVS 100% Acetone Nail Polish Remover
- Super Nail Pure Acetone Polish Remover
Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Non-acetone/acetone-free nail polish remover is sometimes preferred to the acetone one. These removers use less destructive solvents like ethyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol and propylene carbonate. Moisturizing agents like glycerin, panthenol and soy are added acetone-free removers to minimize the drying effect
Pros of Acetone-free removers
- Have a gentle smell
- Less harmful
- Some contain vitamins to improve fingernail health
- Very gentle to the skin, with less drying effect, if any.
- Not very powerful and efficient
- Do work well for glitter polishes and shellac (no-chip) manicures
- More time and effort do the job
Best Uses & Brands
Best for: frequent polish removal, light polish colors and women with dry or more sensitive skin and nails.
Here is a list of some top popular brands
- Karma Organic Spa’s Organic Lavender nail Polish Remover
- Pure Vitality Beauty’s 100% NATURAL & Plant Based – USDA BioCertified Nail Polish Remover
- Pure Body Naturals Nail Polish Remover
- OPI Original Polish Remover
Which is safe? Acetone or none acetone?
Based on some scientific evidence, the safety depends on the concentrations and the ingredients that a nail polish remover, be it acetone or acetone-free, comes with. Sometimes Acetone is slightly safer than the primary ingredients in non-acetone remover, ethyl acetate & methyl ethyl ketone. Yes! However, when used sparingly and accordingly both the solvents are safe.
Best Nail Polish Remover Pads, Pens & Pots
According to Ebay’s nail polish remover buying guide, nail paint removers can also classified as;
- Remover pads
- Remover Pens
- Remover pots
- Bottled Removers
These are individual pads that are pre-soaked in nail polish remover and sealed to keep moisture in the pads. These wipes come in handy are especially when traveling since they small and portable. You do not need any complex means to carry them. In fact, they can fit in your purse. You can as well store the pads in your car, desk etc. They are small enough to be carried anywhere for a quick touch up or full repaint
How to Use
They come in different sizes. The ingredients vary depending on the maker. Some have acetone while other do not. Some have both. Some are scented or flavored while some are plain.
Using them is quite simple. Unpackage, get one pad, place on the polished finger and gently rub off the polish. The ease with which the polish will come off will depend on the type of polish, number of layers and of course the strength of the remover on the pad.
Bonus tip: Only use parts of the pad at a time to save the sides
- Can be used on both feet(toes) and hands
- Easy to use/apply
- If you’ve more than two layer of polish you might need more pads ant it may be a tedious task
- May make your nails oily…therefore an extra task of drying off the oil
- The varieties that are not scented may leave strong trailing scent
- May be messy
Best Nail Polish Remover Pads Brands According to Reviews
Here is a random list of some of the best pads basing on reviews.
- ULTA Regular Nail Polish Remover Pads
- Sephora Collection Instant Nail Polish Remover Wipes
- Cutex Nail Polish Remover Pads Non-Acetone 2-Pack
- Formula X Delete To-Go Nail Polish Remover Pads
- LA Fresh Eco Beauty Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover
- Lauren B. Beauty Nail Polish Remover Pads
- Crabtree & Evelyn London Nail Polish Remover Wipes
- Red Carpet Manicure Remove Wraps LED Gel Polish Remover Foils
Where to buy
You can get remover pads online on
Alternatively, you can buy directly from the manufacture company websites
DIY Remover Pads
Another form of nail paint removal kits come in small containers or pots. Inside the remover pots is a sponge which is soaked with nail polish remover. It is the sponge that helps rub off the polish. The pots also have a finger-sized hole in the middle through which you can insert your fingers.
How to use
To use it all you need to do is dip your finger through the middle hole, twist your finger until the polish comes off.
- Quicker and mess free
- Easy to use
- It can be done on the go…anywhere even when traveling.
- No need for cotton pads or balls which are usually messy
- Perfect for finger nails
- Minimal or no strong trailing scent – the spread of the strong scent that comes from varnish removers is greatly minimized
- It cannot be used on toes
- Some users have found them not good for gritty polish like a glitter or texture coat
- The sponge does not last for long enough. It starts to break down after a few uses
- It will not help if you are trying to fine-tune tiny mess ups.
Best Remover Pot Brands
- Nails Inc’s Express Nail Polish Remover pot-It is the most popular. It is scented with vanilla for a pleasant removal experience.
- Maybelline Express Remover Pot-According to the manufacturer, it does not have acetone hence no damage on your nails
- Cutex Twist and Scrub Instant Sponge Regular- it is enriched with protein to gently dissolve polish, even under cuticles and ideal for natural nails and works twice as fast as a traditional polish remove
Nail Remover Pens
The Nail polish corrector pen is a tube filled with nail polish remover that has a cotton tip on the end. The end is soaked in the remover and used on the tiniest parts of the nails. It is perfect for those tiny mess ups. Whether cleaning the skin or the cuticle around the nails or correcting a nail art mess up, the corrector remover pen erases only the unwanted polish. Best for individuals who practise nail art.
How to use and Review
Bottled Nail Polish Remover
This is the most popular packaging of nail lacquer remover. It is just a remover that comes in a bottle. The bottle comes with material that is used to soak up the liquid which is thereafter used to take out the polish on your nails. The soaking material can be
- Cotton ball
- Cotton pad
The bottle of course contains the two types of removers aforementioned. That is either acetone or non-acetone. Further, basing on the formulation the, the bottled babies can be categorized to;
made up of ingredients that help to nourish the nails and improve weak, thin nails. This type of nail polish remover contains a mixture of vitamins and protein which help over time to toughen frail nails.
Helps dry brittle nails by using a blend of vitamins and aloe vera to replace moisture to the nails. Regularly use of a moisturizing remover, not only ensures steady supply of moisture for your nails but also nourishment.
Best Nail Polish Remover for Natural, Weak, Gel & Glitter Nails
Gel Nail Polish Remover – Best Picks
Gel nail polish remover deserves special attention. Removing gel fingernail polish is an art. There are also the best gel nail polish removers that you can consider. Here are some of the best nail lacquer removers for gel nails.
- Gelish Soak Off nail remover
- OPI Expert Touch Remover
- Opi Expert Touch Removal Wraps
- OPI Polish Remover
- Super Nail Pure Acetone
- Zoya Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover
- IBD Nail Wipes- Lint Free
- Cutex Polish Remover Pads
- Harmony Gelish Soak-off Gel Polish Structure Gel
Again, read extensive reviews before finding something that will work for you. Here is a detailed step by step procedure to remove gel nail polish.
Both acetone and acetone-free can work for natural nails. However in regard to acetone, it will depend on the concentration of the solvent. Highly concentrated formulations should be avoided. One particular brand designed for natural nails, works fast and has moisturizer in addition to Aloe Vera is OPI Original Polish Remover. Refer above for the best picks of both acetone and non- actone.
Weak & Brittle Nails
The bad news…nail polish removers are one of the many causes of weak and brittle nails. Should stop using these removers anyway? Not really but if you’ve extremely weak nails you can consider it. Look for removers that come with moisturizers and strengtheners. Organic nor acetone are the best. Here are some good brands
- Sally Hansen Extra Strength Remover-Formulated to hydrate and strengthen.
- RGB Cosmetics Nail Color Remove Pad
- Aila 3-in-1 Soy-Based Nail Color Remover with Pure Argan Oil
- Caption Onto the Next Creme Remover
Best Picks for Acrylic Nails
Non-acetone nail polish removers are perfect for acrylics and other types of artificial nails. While non-acetone removers won’t destroy artificial nails, they can sometimes take longer to dissolve polish. Refer above for more details on the cons and pros in addition to the best brands
Here are some of the best/top rated fingernail lacquer removers. We’ll list some that are common, natural ones, alternative nail polish removers and removers for gel nails.
- Deborah Lipmann the Stripper To Go (mixed reviews about it)
- Sephora Smooth Nail Polish Remover
- Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover (acetone free), costs about
- Zoya Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover, (good for regular polishes but not glitter fingernails; has nice floral scent, moisturizes according to the many top reviews)
- Priti NYC Soy Polish Remover, (most reviews recommend it as one of the best nail polish removers)
- Essie Naturally Clean Purifying Nail Polish Remover (Known to work in seconds! Read reviews before buying.)
- Priti NYC soy nail polish remover wipes, (10 wipes) (top rated as the best, good moisturizing effect)
- Butter London the Remover Collection Trio, (mixed reviews, bad and good) – Ensure you read reviews before buying it.
- Sephora Express Nail Polish Remover, (said to evaporate too fast before even using; mixed reviews though)
- OPI nail polish remover (reviews vote it up, known to work best on shimmer nails, glitter nails and even metallic nails)
- Skinfood Nail Remover Jelly
- Zoya nail polish remover
DIY Nail Polish Remover Alternatives – Removing polish without Nail Polish Remover
What is the best way to remove nail polish without remover. Here are some alternatives to the removers aforementioned. The first three are Wikihow’s best.
1. Alcohol and alcohol-based products
Use alcohol and alcohol-based products to peel away polish. Common products that have alcohol or ethyl glycol listed as ingredient include;
- Hand Sanitizer
- Spray-on deodorant
- Rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol)
Note: The stronger the alcohol content the better this will work.
2. White Vinegar + Lemon Juice
You can also use white vinegar, or a vinegar solution mixed with lemon juice, to remove nail polish. See recipe below.
3. Household Products-Toothpaste & Hydrogen Peroxide
Household Products like Toothpaste and hydrogen Peroxide
Take a spoonful of toothpaste the using a paper towel or an old brush start rubbing out the In general, white toothpastes work best as they lift and pull the color off your nail. Mix the paste with baking soda for better results.
Mix hot water and hydrogen peroxide in a ratio of 1:2. That is, for every two cups of the peroxide use one cup of water. Soak your fingers for 10 minutes then file the polish off with a nail file.
4. Hot water and dry cloth
Though not effective, water is the safest natural solvent. Simply take some warm water (not too warm-avoid burns) in a bowl and put your fingers in it for about 20 to 25 minutes. Once the old polish becomes soft take the fingers out of the water and rub the nails gently with the dry piece of cloth.
5. Other Products
There are also other products that work but some of them should be used with caution. Also ensure you use them in a well-ventilated room
- Nail Polish
- Paint thinner
- Fluid Thinner
How to Make Homemade Natural Nail Polish Remover
Homemade nail polish remover is said to be safe, healthy and inexpensive. With such pros, it stands to beat commercial nail polish removers in the market. Even the top brands of nail polish remover may sometimes contain harsh chemicals. These destroy fingernails. With such side effects in mind, why don’t you try homemade nail polish remover. You have learnt how to make fingernail polishes at home, so why not try removers too? Here are steps to make the best homemade nail polish remover, also called natural nail polish remover.
You will use natural ingredients to make the best fingernail polish remover at home by following DIY steps. Lemon juice and vinegar are the natural ingredients you will use if you know how to make nail polish remover at home.
- Pour white vinegar into a bowl.
- Add lemon juice of equal amount.
- Stir to mix the two ingredients.
- There you have it – your homemade/natural nail polish remover.
Tips for Use: It might not work fast as acetone based fingernail varnish removers but it sure is safe on your nails. Dip a cotton ball in warm water, then dampen it with your natural/homemade nail polish remover. Place on the fingernails and press on there for about 30 seconds, then wipe off the nail paint. If you did apply several layers of nail polish, it might take a bit longer to remove it completely using homemade polish remover.
You can also use alcohol as an alternative ingredient in making nail polish remover at home. Simply dampen nail polish remover pads with alcohol and follow the normal nail polish removal procedure to get rid of the varnish on your fingernails. Alcohol is natural and has antibacterial effects so it can prevent nail fungus. Other people on how to make nail polish remover recommend acetone based perfumes and even some brands of toothpaste. If you have tried these in making nail polish remover alternative, please comment below and let us know of your experience.
Tips for Choosing the Best Nail Polish Remover
When choosing the best nail polish remover, whether it is natural, acetone based or acetone-free, ensure that you read customer reviews to about it. The reviews will give you a hint toward a top quality remover to choose.
Acetone-free removers are said to be the best because they do not have the side effects like headaches, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, irritation, dermatitis, nausea and even abdominal pain.
Choose water-based or mineral-based removers. These are natural ingredients and act as alternatives or substitutes to chemical compounds found in most fingernail lacquer removers.
- How to Remove Nail Polish From Skin Around Nails & Without Acetone
- How to Remove Nail Polish from Clothes
- How to Remove Nail Polish Stains from Shoes
- How to get Nail polish out of Couch, Leather & Fabric Sofa
- How to Remove Spilled Nail Polish from Floor Tiles, Grout, Marble & Wood
- How to Remove Nail Polish from Carpet
- How to Remove Shellac Nail Polish
- Remove Gel Nail Polish – How to do At Home, Best Remover Kits, Tips, Ideas, Soak-Offs