If you’re the type of person who always has your nails painted, you know the feeling of looking down at your fingernails after you remove your polish to find dehydrated, brittle-looking nail beds. This can come from using acetone, which is why some people turn to natural nail polish remover to be a little bit friendlier to the nails.
Acetone-free nail polish remover options use solvents that are less potent than acetone, which makes them better for nail health. “These are composed of alternative ingredients like ethyl acetate, which is one common non-acetone solvent,” says Dana Stern, MD, a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in nail health. If you’ve got particularly damaged nails, take note. “Acetone-free polish remover isn’t always void of acetone, but less concentrated by using more moisture additives,” says celebrity nail artist Elle Gerstein. “They’re great for people who have excessive water use and extremely brittle nails.” Keep scrolling for more intel on natural nail polish removers and to shop some for yourself.
Why use an acetone-free nail polish remover?
Typically, acetone is one of the fastest ways to dissolve and remove nail polish. This comes with pros and cons. According to Dr. Stern, speed is an advantage, since its effectiveness means that there’s less contact time with your nail and the surrounding skin. “However, it also tends to be drying,” she says. “Nail polish removers are essentially modified paint strippers, and all sorts of solvents can be drying to the nail at varying degrees.”
Some side effects of using acetone include yellowing of the nail or dehydration. “Because of the solvent characteristics, acetone can cause migration and leaching of the pigments in polish, leading to a yellowing of the nails,” says Dr. Stern. “Certain people have more porous nails that are more prone to this.” This can also happen if you’re working with darker-colored nail polish. Also, acetone “can exacerbate an already brittle, damaged nail,” she says. “Most people don’t realize that the damage that we do to our nails is not from the polish, but rather the remover.”
That said, acetone is your best bet for stubborn manicure removal. “Typically, it’s recommended to remove soak-off gels with acetone,” says Dr. Stern. If acetone-free removers work at all, they’re very tough on nails. Also: glitter polish can be tricky to remove, so it’s better to use acetone for the job. Gerstein’s advice? “You can add back moisture [to your nails] through proper nail care and cleaning with water and antibacterial soap after removal and before polish application,” she says.
Shop natural nail polish remover products
Some people swear by certain DIY hacks for removing nail polish without a bottle of acetone. Ingredients like vinegar mixed with lemon juice or just using rubbing alcohol are among these methods, though Dr. Stern notes that these won’t work as efficiently as a store-bought nail polish remover. Grab one of the products below for a nail polish remover that’s acetone-free.
Get the double benefits of maintaining moisture in your nail beds as you get the aromatherapy boost of lavender essential oil.
Shop now: Karma Naturals Soybean Lavender Nail Polish Remover, $12
This gentle formula sloughs away your polish with a blend of soy and nourishing vitamins that keep your nails soft.
Shop now: Ella+Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover, $12
For a non-drying polish remover, this one by Mineral Fusion works on even the darkest of nail polish colors.
Shop now: Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover, $9
A first of its kind, this one’s a cream polish remover that dissolves polish as it delivers hydration via nourishing oils like macadamia and argan.
Shop now: The Sign Tribe Remove And Chill Enamel Remover, $15
All it takes are some swipes of these acetone-free, biodegradable wipes to remove your nail polish and keep your cuticles soft and moisturized.
Shop now: Alleyoop Swipe Left Acetone-free Nail Polish Wipes, $12
Avocado oil is the star ingredient in this natural nail polish remover, which helps to boost the health of your nails and cuticles.
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