Organic Alternatives to Acetone

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Take off nail polish without the smell or hazards of acetone-based removers.
Take off nail polish without the smell or hazards of acetone-based removers. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

The standard acetone nail polish remover is a necessary evil for those who like to keep their nails manicured, pedicured and painted; while it helps to maintain the appearance of your nails, it reeks of chemicals and can be unpleasant to use and be around. What you might not know is that there are other acetone-free alternatives that can keep your nails looking lovely without all the harsh chemicals.

Crop-Based Removers

Many of the organic nail polish removers on the market are crop-based, meaning they are made with soy or fermented crops such as sugar beets and corn. These varieties are biodegradable, making them especially appealing to those looking for an environmentally-friendly option. Although each brand has its own formula and production process, many boast that they are free of harmful chemicals — such as formaldehyde — and that they do not test on animals. One thing to look out for is that some of these products are only compatible with natural nail polish varieties, rather than traditional everyday nail polish.

Water-Based Removers

Water-based nail polish and nail polish removers contain little or no volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds are organic chemical compounds that can have negative effects on both short and long-term health, as well as the environment. State governments have cracked down on the use of products that contain volatile organic compounds, thus opening a market for water-based nail polish removers. These kinds of nail polish tend to work best with water-based nail polishes, and they can take a bit more work to take off the polish than chemical varieties, especially if you have dry, rigid nails.

Scented Removers

Much of the appeal of using an organic variety of nail polish remover stems from the fact that there is no harsh chemical odor; for that reason, many of the organic products on the market are unscented. However, some companies have started adding essential oils to the formula. Depending on the company, there are various selections of scented removers. Some of the most typical scented products include lavender and tea tree.

Homemade Removers

While there are increasingly more options for different organic nail polish removers on the market, you can make your own acetone-free variety right at home to save time and money. One trick is to apply a new, thick layer of nail polish on top of the old layer; before it dries, use a cotton swab or pad to wipe off the new layer, and it should take the old one with it.

For a more time-intensive but nonetheless natural process, soak your nails in hot water for about 15 minutes, and then scrape off the softened nail polish layer. Other options include applying vinegar, citrus fruits, rubbing alcohol or toothpaste and using a cotton swab or pad to scrub the nail clean.

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