If you polish your nails, one thing is certain; at some point, you're going to have to use nail polish remover. But between the confusing array of choices, the fumes, the acetone versus non-acetone debate, and the varying efficiency between brands, the whole thing can be downright frustrating. Let's sort it out.
Initially, you have two choices to make:
- Choose a type of remover. You can select from a variety of formulations (from liquids to presoaked applicators), but the basic question you must first answer is: Acetone or non-acetone? Acetone-free removers are believed to be less drying on the nail itself, and contain fruit derivative solvents (methyl pentane, ethyl acetate, and others) in lieu of acetone, which can be toxic if exposure to the fumes is prolonged.
On the other hand, acetone-free removers are not as effective as acetone-based formulas; this could lead you to use more remover, and therefore, you may unwittingly increase your exposure to the fumes. The bottom line: It's really a matter of preference. If you use mostly clear or pale polishes, and are concerned about the use of solvents, then select an acetone-free formulation. If you favor darker or brighter polish colors, go for one that has acetone to decrease your exposure time.
- Choose your tools. Cotton balls, synthetic all-purpose cosmetic puffs or pads, or paper towels? Again, it's mostly a matter of preference. Cotton balls may leave fibers behind. Puffs can disintegrate. Paper towels can shred. No one choice will be right for everyone. Experiment with a few different applicators and see which you like best. Overall, however, you will probably be more successful with a pad-shaped applicator, rather than traditional cotton balls, which can be hard to keep hold of and get soaked through more easily. You may therefore need to use more of them, which can drive up both the price and the aggravation factor.
Now that you've made your selections, assemble your tools, and follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly.
- Spread a towel or paper towel folded over a few times in front of you on a flat surface. Have some extra paper towels nearby, just in case there's an accidental spill, as removers can stain and damage clothing and upholstery. You may also want to have a few cotton tipped swabs (such as Q-tips) available as well, especially for darker and brighter colored polishes.
- Soak the applicator with the remover.
- Apply the applicator firmly to the nail bed. Instead of scrubbing the nail up and down with the cotton pad or paper towel, press it firmly against the nail and hold it there for thirty seconds.
- Now, moving slowly and maintaining the pressure, wipe the pad down the nail towards the tip. One stroke ought to do it, if you've given the remover long enough to dissolve the polish in step 4. But if there is still polish, flip the pad over, soak that side with remover, and repeat steps 4 and 5.
- If only a little polish is left on the nail around the cuticle, use the cotton swab. Dip it in the remover, then press the tip against the polish, making sure to maintain contact with the nail. You may have to push back the flesh surrounding the nail a bit in order to get all of the polish. Firmly swipe the swab down the side of the nail. Repeat as needed.
- Repeat for each nail.
- When all polish is removed, cap the remover bottle firmly. Wash your hands with a gentle soap, rinse, and pat dry.
Now you're ready to move on to the next step in your manicure!