Polish remover — if you use nail polish, you gotta have it, but I bet a lot of people don’t think much about it. I know I didn’t for the longest time; I’d just buy the cheapest stuff, figuring it was all pretty much the same.
I’m no chemist, but let’s run down the properties of polish remover quickly. There are two basic kinds: acetone-based and non-acetone based. If you’re putting polish on your natural nails, I believe acetone-based is your better bet and works more quickly. Non-acetone-based remover, which relies primarily on ethyl acetate, should be used on artificial nails because acetone is not kind to them and may cause them to separate. I’ve tried non-acetone remover on my natural nails, wondering if it might be more gentle, but it didn’t even remove the polish so I scrapped it.
Both acetone and ethyl acetate are solvents and can be dangerous if not used properly. Always follow directions for their use, have good ventilation, and be aware that they are highly flammable.
There are other kinds of polish remover, too, that are based on more natural ingredients such as soy. I’ve never tried any so I can’t comment on their effectiveness, but the ones I’ve seen run $20 a bottle and up.
Anyway, for a long time I used the cheapest remover from Wal-Mart, just their house brand, and in retrospect that wasn’t a good choice. It smelled extremely strong (no matter what scent the bottle claimed to have — lemon, coconut, whatever — it smelled very strongly of acetone and threatened to fry my nose hairs) and I noticed that when I changed my polish a lot my nails were becoming brittle, thinner, and were more prone to breakage.
Then I moved up a tad and got Sally Hansen Moisturizing Fast & Gentle Polish Remover.
It cost about $2.89, as I recall, and it’s OK. If that sounds like faint praise, it is. It has some ingredients that I’m not crazy about like methylparaben, and when this bottle is gone I’m not going to get any more.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that my current favorite remover is from Zoya. Honestly, people, I am NOT a paid spokesperson for Zoya; I just truly love their products! I don’t get them free and buy them at retail prices like most consumers, although I do wait for really good sales.
Their remover is called Remove Plus , and it comes in handy flip-top bottle instead of a screw cap, which is such a great idea I wonder why more companies don’t use it.
It costs $9.99 for 8 ounces which I think is high, but like I said, I wait for a sale and get it for half-price. I was first introduced to it by getting a free 2-ounce sample in a Zoya polish order, and that hooked me. The little 2-ounce bottle is a perfect travel size, too.
Its ingredient list is very short: 2-propanone, water, glycerin, fragrance, and D&C Violet #2. That’s it. The fragrance is lavender but you can still smell the acetone (not nearly as strongly as in cheaper removers) so I don’t recommend taking a big whiff. Where’s the acetone, you wonder? 2-propanone is another name for acetone.
Since I’ve started using Remove Plus I think my nails are in better condition and are much less dry and brittle than with cheap removers. But no matter what remover I use, when I’m done with it I wash my hands and then apply hand lotion and cuticle cream, unless I’m putting on more polish right away.