How To Take Nail Polish Off Without Nail Polish Remover

September 21, 2017 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

There are a number of reasons why you may opt to find hacks that remove nail polish without nail polish remover. If you’re traveling or find yourself about to enter a meeting with chipped nail polish, you probably won’t have polish remover in your purse or back pocket. Perhaps you find nail polish remover drying and damaging to your nails and cuticles. Ingredients like acetone and methyl acetate, which smell pretty horrible, can also be damaging if you inhale them frequently.

For all of these reasons and possibly others, it’s worth taking note of these four nail polish remover hacks — none of which involve nail polish remover, and all of which require products you already have at home.

1) Spray Hairspray On Your Nails

nail polish

Products like hairspray, spray deodorant, body mist, perfume, and even sanitizer contain agents that act much in the same way as nail polish remover. They may take a little longer to work, but if you’re persistent and keep at it, you’ll notice your polish vanishing a bit at a time. Spray hairspray on a cotton square (which will stick less to your nails than a cotton ball). Work on one nail at a time, rubbing back and forth and adding more hairspray as needed. Try to keep these products, which contain alcohol, limited to your nail to prevent them from drying your cuticles and hands.

2) Soak Your Hands In Warm Soapy Water

nails in water

After applying an agent like hairspray to your nails, you’ll likely still have a few chips of polish left on your nails — this is just one of the downsides of not using traditional nail polish remover. Luckily, soaking your hands in warm soapy water is the quickest way to loosen up stubborn polish so that you easily rub it off with a cotton square. Be prepared to spend about 10 minutes with your hands in water — patience will pay off.

3) Apply Fresh Nail Polish Or A Top Coat Over Your Nails

top coat nail polish

It sounds counterintuitive: why would you add more nail polish to nails when your goal is to remove nail polish? But this hack is genius because it works quickly and effectively. Apply a fresh coat of nail polish or topcoat to your nail (your choice, though many prefer not to waste a more expensive top coat for this pursuit). Now, this is key: do not wait even a minute before cleaning your nail with a paper towel — the longer you wait, the drier the polish becomes and the more difficult it is to remove it. Both the fresh polish you applied and the old color should come off in one or two swipes.

4) Use A Nail File

nail file

It is not recommended that you simply start filing your nail bed with a rough nail filer in order to remove old nail polish. Doing this can scratch your nails and weaken them. With that said, if you have an errant chip or two to deal with, a gentle fine-grit cushion file can be used to softly whisk away the chip.



Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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