Education Series Vol. 3: Acetone

*originally published in 21Ninety on September 9, 2021

We all love a good manicure and pedicure. Some of us take a DIY approach to nail care while others prefer to get their nails done by a salon professional. Either way, a fresh paint job often means you have to get rid of your old polish.

Acetone is admittedly the easiest way to remove nail polish, but it will dry your hands OUT. Besides being a major contributor to crusty hands, it has other drawbacks that should make you rethink your acetone use.

What’s so bad about Acetone?

Acetone is a clear, colorless liquid solvent that’s found in many household products. It has a number of uses, but the most popular is for removing nail polish. While acetone-based polish removers are an affordable option, they’re tough on your nails.

One of the major issues with acetone is that it breaks down your nail’s natural protective layers. When used excessively, acetone strips away the natural oils from your nails, leading to dryness, cracking, and nail breakage. It also creates the perfect conditions for the development of nail fungus and discoloration.

Acetone is a skin and eye irritant so, too much exposure can cause swelling and irritation of the eyes and nose. The worst part? It doesn’t end there.

Inhaling high amounts of acetone can result in allergies, lung irritation, or even liver damage.

A safer way to remove your nail polish

The major benefit of acetone is that it can remove nail polish very quickly. But the fact of the matter is, it’s bad for your health in the long run.

Fortunately, there are safer removers that are just as effective as acetone. Some are made with softer chemical solvents and others are made with plant based solvents. Both options tend to be gentler and less drying than acetone. One of these products is Succulent a vegan nail polish remover made by Taupe Coat. Succulent is a soy-based acetone free remover, made with vitamin E for its antioxidant properties.

Regardless of which remover you pick, almost anything is better than acetone. Don’t forget - your nail care is part of your self-care!