Painting your own nails is hard. I don’t know about you, but every time I attempt an at-home manicure, I’m presented all over again with the reasons why I’d rather just visit the salon. Basically, my skills make it look like a child has taken a brush to my nails—and don’t even get me started on my right hand, which is exponentially harder to do with my non-dominant hand. All this goes to say that you can be sure that I always (always) get some nail polish on my skin (sometimes more there than on my actual nails).
The thing is, nail polish remover—while great at getting polish off of your actual nails—isn’t exactly the best thing to apply to your skin.
“People get really frustrated when they think about how to get nail polish off of their skin,” says Amy Ling Lin, owner of nail salon-slash-meditation studio Sundays. “Acetone remover can dehydrate your skin, and a highly concentrated remover can even leave the skin so dry that it looks white. It’s also often mixed with other ingredients, like alcohol, that can cause irritation or further dehydrate the skin.”
So to keep your skin healthy yet still get that pesky polish off, I consulted some nail pros on what to do. Keep scrolling for natural ways to get nail polish off of your skin.
Non-acetone nail polish remover
While regular acetone isn’t great for you, acetone-free remover can get the job done of ridding polish from your skin. “Soaking a cotton ball in non-acetone remover and applying it to the skin is the easiest way to get polish off of your skin,” says Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of nail salon Tenoverten.
“A totally natural way to rid your skin of nail polish is to use pure coconut oil,” says Abramcyk. “That typically does the trick.” Of course—what can’t coconut oil do?
It may sound weird—and it’s not the most natural—but adding more nail polish to those areas you spilled over can rid your skin of the stain. “A simple and effective trick to remove dried nail polish is to apply more nail polish,” says Monika Garcia, director of education at nail polish brand Londontown. “Simply apply nail polish onto the dried nail polish and quickly remove with a paper towel.” Just be sure to use one that’s at least 5-free.
This is another weird trick, but it can get those nail polish spots off your skin. “Perfume has similar ingredients to an acetone remover and should only be used as a last resort,” says Garcia. “Soak a cotton ball with it and gently rub off the polish from your skin.” She notes to apply a moisturizer on afterwards to restore hydration to your complexion.
Vitamin E oil
You already know that oil cleansers work wonders when it come to dissolving makeup and debris off of your skin. Well, certain oils can work the same magic when it comes to nail polish that gets on your skin. “Vitamin E oil or coconut oil are good, but most any type of oil is fine as long as you massage it in thoroughly,” says Jin Soon Choi, founder of New York’s JinSoon nail spa.
Eventually, simply warm water will remove polish from your skin. Either way, it’s good to splash some on no matter which method you choose. “It’s good to rinse your hands under warm water after you use any nail polish remover,” says Choi. “After that, be sure to moisturize and add oil to your cuticles to stay hydrated.”
Lemon and vinegar
They’re not just for your salad dressing—together, these two pantry staples can nix some manicure stains. “These are great home remedies for removing stains on your nails and skin,” says Choi. “It’s the most mild approach to correcting stains, so it requires multiple applications.”
Save a bit of paste when brushing your teeth, because toothpaste can actually help with your nail polish mess. “Applying some toothpaste is good for stained nails as well as skin,” says Choi. Who knew?
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