Your Nail Polish Remover Might Be Sabotaging Your Manicure Efforts — Here’s What You Should Be Using Instead

by Caroline Harris

Your Nail Polish Remover Might Be Sabotaging Your Manicure Efforts — Here’s What You Should Be Using Instead
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Read on to discover the benefits of natural nail polish remover and the best ones to shop from retailers like Amazon and Nordstrom.


My least favorite part about painting my nails is the thick, pungent odor of nail polish remover. It smells toxic and unnatural, like something I shouldn’t be putting near my body. I used to actually hold my breath while using nail polish remover because I was so concerned about inhaling the chemical fumes.


RELATED: This At-Home Nail Polish Set Is Like Fall in a Bottle


Turns out, my suspicions were not unfounded. The chemicals used in many nail polish removers — including isopropyl acetone, n-methyl-pyrrolidone, and methyl ethyl ketone — may lead to organ toxicity and reproductive harm, with pregnant women and nail salon workers especially vulnerable.


In addition to the possible health effects, non-natural nail polish removers can be drying, contributing to thin, damaged, and brittle nails, especially with frequent use. They could be undermining your efforts to achieve happy, healthy nails by weakening your nail plates and creating more sensitivity and breakage.


Fortunately, there are a range of natural nail polish removers from popular brands like Zoya, Deborah Lipmann, and Ella + Mila for those who are looking to make the switch. Some are soy-based, while others are formulated with lavender and aloe for hydrating benefits. Many of them are advertised as “acetone-free” – but what, exactly, does that mean?


The Difference Between Acetone and Non-Acetone Nail Polish Removers


There are two main types of nail polish removers: acetone and non-acetone. Acetone is a strong solvent that quickly and thoroughly removes polish from nails. But that same strength makes acetone a harsh ingredient that can strip away your natural oils and dry out your skin, cuticles, and nails. By contrast, non-acetone removers use gentler solvents like isopropyl myristate and ethyl acetate. They’re not nearly as efficient at removing polish, but they’re also more sensitive on your skin and nails.


For the past year, I’ve been using an acetone-free nail polish remover. It’s called the Olive & June Nail Polish Remover Pot, and I’m obsessed. Not only is this product cruelty-free and vegan, but it also has a built-in sponge so you don’t have to waste any Q-tips or cotton balls. It’s even odorless and comes in adorable pink packaging, so what more could you possibly want?


Below, you can shop the Olive & June Nail Polish Remover Pot, as well as other natural, non-toxic nail polish removers for your next DIY mani-pedi.


1 of 7 Image Credits: Olive and June

Olive and June Nail Polish Remover Pot


My personal go-to, this Olive & June remover is sensitive on cuticles and nails. Reviewers agree, saying it’s “super useful” and “doesn’t dry out my hands like acetone or even other non-acetone removers I have tried.”

2 of 7 Image Credits: Amazon

ZOYA Remove Plus 3-in-1 Formula


This nail polish remover goes on smoothly with fortifying and hydrating benefits. Its 3-in-1 formula works to clean and prep your nails while also removing any leftover polish.

3 of 7 Image Credits: Amazon

Ella + Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover


An acetone-free option, this nail polish remover is soy-based and enriched with lavender essential oil. It’s also cruelty-free, vegan, and certified by PETA.

4 of 7 Image Credits: Amazon

Karma Organic Beauty Natural Nail Polish Remover


This nail polish remover is 100 percent natural, with a soy-based formula containing lavender essential oil. It helps strengthen your nails and soften your cuticles while releasing a soothing aroma.

5 of 7 Image Credits: Nordstrom

Deborah Lippmann The Stripper Lavender Nail Lacquer Remover


If you have dry, brittle nail plates, consider this nail lacquer remover. It includes botanical ingredients like lavender and aloe for hydration, and reviewers say it’s “convenient and easy to use.”

6 of 7 Image Credits: Amazon

Marley Marie Naturals Nail Polish Remover


Now this is novel: a natural nail polish remover that doubles as aromatherapy. Its vanilla and lavender scent is ideal for unwinding at home with a mani-pedi. And it’s non-toxic, kid-, and pet-friendly.

7 of 7 Image Credits: Amazon

Ella + Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover Wipes


These nail polish remover wipes feature Vitamins A, C, and E to help improve your nail health. They’re soy-based, cruelty-free, and come in a pack of five.