9 Best Nail Polish Removers for Happier Hands in 2019

nail polish remover

My favorite part of wearing nail polish is picking out my new color. My least favorite is breaking out the nail polish remover to take my old, chipped polish off before I can get to the fun part.

At least it was when I was still using my drugstore brand. I’d scrub and go through piles of cotton and my husband would come home and immediately say the whole place smelled like a chemical plant.

The damage I was doing to my nails was easy to see. After using my cheap remover, my nails would be chalky white and have that unnatural squeaky feeling when you rubbed them that should be reserved for diner counter-tops. My nails were dry, flaky, and splitting and I never wanted anyone to see my bare nails.

I assumed that’s how all polish removers are, but I went on a hunt to see if there really are polish removers that could make taking my polish off something that I don’t dread. Here is what I found.

What Are the Best Nail Polish Removers?

best nail polish remover, professional nail polish remover Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Good value for money
  • Strong acetone power
  • Coconut scent
Price: $8.48 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Gentle on skin
  • Organic
  • No nasty smell
Price: $11.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
nail polish remover, acetone, gentle nail polish remover Amazon Customer Reviews
  • No spill bottle design
  • One-hand operation
  • Five-free
Price: $10.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Safe for children and pregnant folks
  • Doctor formulated
  • Anti-fungal
Price: $14.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best nail polish remover, safe nail polish remover, natural nail polish remover Amazon Customer Reviews
  • All natural
  • Gentle on skin
  • Scented and non-scented options
Price: $17.84 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Non-acetone
  • Mango scent
  • Effective
Price: $8.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best nail polish remover, gentle nail polish remover, conditioning nail polish remover Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Strong enough for gel
  • Aloe and conditioners
  • Fast-acting
Price: $9.60 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best nail polish remover, professional nail polish remover Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Aloe and nail conditioners
  • Strong enough for glitter
  • Works fast
Price: $5.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best nail polish remover, travel nail polish remover, nail polish remover pads Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great for travel
  • Light lemon scent
  • Conditioning aloe
Price: $11.25 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Onyx Professional Soak Off Coconut Scented Remover

    Pros:
    • Removes all nail coatings including gel polish
    • Tackles glitter like it’s nothing
    • Fresh coconut smell
    • Professional strength
    • Whopping 16 ounce bottle
    • Contains Vitamin E and grape seed oil
    Cons:
    • More drying than non-acetone
    • Unavoidable acetone scent is still faintly there
    • Grapeseed oil makes it not as strong as pure acetone

    The bottle says everything you need to know–it removes “all nail coatings.” I ordered this for myself recently (with my own money) and it’s my new personal favorite. As a maximum strength acetone remover, Soak Off claims to remove regular and glitter polish fast and completely with just a little on a cotton ball.

    I was skeptical because I love my glitter nail polish and know how much of a struggle it can be to get it off. I put some Soak Off on a cotton ball, held it on my ultra holographic Beach House polish for maybe two minutes and the whole thing came off in one wipe. To be honest, I swore out loud I was so surprised and impressed.

    If it doesn’t grow there naturally, Onyx Professional Soak Off is taking it off. When used as a soak, it will remove gel nail polish, acrylics, shellac polish, and nail glue. There is a faint acetone smell which fades quickly and but it really does smell like coconut. I mean, no one’s going to walk in the room and mistake it for a pina colada, but it’s a huge step up from headache-inducing cheaper brands.

    Vitamin E and grape seed oil keep it gentle on hands but as an acetone base, if you’re soaking for a long time, it can be a little drying. For the price and how much you get, it’s well worth the money.

  2. 2. Karma Naturals Organic Lavender Polish Remover

    Pros:
    • Gentle on nails and skin
    • Organic and biodegradable
    • No chemical smell
    • Long-lasting
    Cons:
    • Not as fast as pure acetone
    • Not for gel polish or acrylics
    • Takes a lot of rubbing to get glitter off
    • Can leave hands feeling a little greasy

    Karma Naturals Organic Lavender Polish Remover is an oil-based remover made from organic soybeans by a little all-natural spa in New Jersey. It smells faintly of lavender flowers and the lack of typical nail polish smell alone makes this one priceless for me.

    No more feeling dizzy if I can’t open a window. (It also comes in Tea Tree and Unscented, and it’s actually unscented!) It removes polish like a dream, even cutting through dark reds without leaving stains behind.

    It does require a little more time and rubbing than a pure acetone remover, but the upside is that it leaves your nails shiny and healthy instead of stripping them of their natural moisture, making them brittle. And Karma Naturals doesn’t evaporate so a little goes a long way. You don’t have to keep sloshing more onto a cotton ball so the bottle really lasts.

  3. 3. Zoya Remove Plus

    Pros:
    • No spill bottle
    • One-handed operation
    • Gentler on hands than pure acetone
    • Five free and vegan
    Cons:
    • Harsher on your hands than non-acetone removers
    • Mild acetone smell
    • Not a huge bottle

    This is hands down one of the best on the list. It’s stronger than a non-acetone remover but gentler on your nails than 100 percent acetone. Zoya Remove Plus contains a plant-derived moisturizer to protect and nourish nails making this remover a great happy medium that takes off polish fast while not drying out your nails. Being mild acetone also means that nail polish remover smell isn’t nearly as strong.

    What I really love is the bottle. It comes with a lockable pump. The flip top pump makes it so you only need one hand to get your remover which is genius. I’m always struggling with normal remover bottles while doing nail art to clean my plates without smudging.

    With Zoya, you unlock the top by turning, the lid flips up, and all you need to do is place your cotton ball on top of the pump and press down. That’s it. One hand is all that is needed. And you can knock it over without ruining your table or rug because unless you press the pump, the remover isn’t coming out.

    When you’re done it locks closed so there’s no accidental pressure that could cause a spill. Honestly, I’d probably pay the $10 for the empty bottle just so I don’t have worry about spilling.

  4. 4. Dr.’s Remedy Non-Acetone Enriched Polish Remover

    Pros:
    • Doctor formulated
    • Strengthening botanicals
    • Anti-fungal
    • Non-acetone
    Cons:
    • Not as strong as acetone
    • Less moisturizing than oil-based
    • Slight polish remover smell

    If you’re looking for a remover you might find in a doctor’s office, this is the one. Dr.’s Remedy Non-Acetone Enriched Polish Remover was formulated by two board-certified, practicing, Podiatric surgeons who started the company to offer the beauty products their patients needed.

    It’s enriched with vitamin E and C, wheat protein, garlic bulb extract, and tea tree. The remover not only takes the polish off easily, it strengthens nails and is also anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral to stop problems before they start. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and safe for children and pregnant folks. Thanks, docs!

  5. 5. Priti NYC Lemongrass Soy Polish Remover

    Pros:
    • Great scent
    • All natural, plant-based ingrediants
    • Gentle on nails and skin
    Cons:
    • Not as fast as acetone
    • May leave greasy feeling
    • Not for gels
    • Glitter takes more rubbing

    From farm to nails is the journey for this all natural remover from Priti NYC. The ingredients are crop-based, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and petroleum-free. As an oil-based remover, it’s gentle on nails and won’t strip or dry them out.

    It’s great on polish and won’t leave any staining behind, even with dark colors. This isn’t a remover for gel polish though and glitter and heavy metallics, which tend to stick, will need a little more elbow grease then you would with pure acetone. It won’t evaporate on you and a little goes a long way so this bottle will last. The lemongrass scent is very light and pleasant.

    Did I mention they also make an Unscented version? Really, no polish remover stink at all.

  6. 6. Mineral Fusion Polish Remover

    Pros:
    • Non-acetone
    • Less drying
    • Mango scented
    • Removes polish fast
    • More natural formula
    Cons:
    • Moisturizers can leave hands feeling greasy
    • Glitter needs extra rubbing
    • Fruity smell could be off putting for some
    • More drying than oil-based

    For something in the middle, Mineral Fusion is an acetone-free remover with an eye toward being more natural. It’s paraben, phthalate, gluten, formaldehyde, and talc free and is never tested on animals.

    Mineral Fusion’s formula is nearly as strong on nail polish as acetone so you won’t need a lot of rubbing unless you’re removing heavy glitter polishes. To nourish your skin, it includes a plant-based moisturizer that leaves nails shiny and your skin soft.

    What isn’t as strong as acetone is Mineral Fusion’s smell, which I can really appreciate. It has a natural fragrance of mango added for a fruity scent. Mineral Fusion is sort of the best of worlds.

  7. 7. Nailtiques Non-Acetone Remover With Aloe Vera & Conditioners

    Pros:
    • Removes polish fast
    • Works on gel nails
    • Gentle on nails and skin
    • Great addition to nail protein treatments
    Cons:
    • Has mild nail polish smell
    • May be drying to those with sensitive skin
    • Not for shellac polish
    • Pricier

    This acetate-based remover is a happy medium: stronger and faster than an oil-based remover, and not as drying as acetone. It makes quick work of polish no matter how dark the color.

    The addition of aloe and other skin conditioners means it’s softer on hands than other acetate removers. If you’re using a nail protein product to strengthen your nails, this is formulated to help remove that in between treatments, a feat a lot of other removers struggle with. The only real downside is that while not nearly as bad as pure acetone, it doesn’t smell like a rose.

  8. 8. OPI Expert Touch Lacquer Remover

    Pros:
    • Fast and effective
    • Contains aloe, grape seed oil, and kelp
    • Removes glitter
    • Long-lasting
    Cons:
    • Has mild acetone smell
    • Gel polish needs soaking
    • More drying than oil-based

    If what you need is speed, OPI Expert Touch Lacquer Remover delivers. It’s an acetone-based remover from a salon-grade brand so you’re looking at professional strength. This will take your polish off with little to no rubbing. Just swipe and you’re done.

    Even multiple layers of dark reds come off without streaking or staining your fingertips. This one will even tackle my favorite but dreaded glitter nail polish.

    It is acetone so it does have that expected nail polish remover scent, but the smell is not nearly as strong as other removers which is a big plus. The addition of aloe, grape seed oil, and kelp makes it much more pleasant on your skin than pure acetone and won’t leave your nails feeling as parched or brittle.

  9. 9. Gabriel Cosmetics Polish Remover Pads

    Pros:
    • Perfect on the go
    • Light lemony scent
    • One pad takes care of 10 fingers
    • Contains moisturizing aloe vera
    Cons:
    • Heavy glitter polish may need two pads
    • Not as strong as acetone
    • not as many uses as liquid removers

    These 20 travel-friendly, single-use cotton pads are perfect for when you’re on a trip or just on the go. They’re acetone-free but strong enough that one pad removes polish from all 10 fingers, though you might need two for heavy glitter.

    It contains lemon and aloe vera extract to keep your nails moisturized and strong. And you can feel good that Gabriel CosmeticsPolish Remover Pads are vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and paraben-free.

    Unlike travel removers that come in individual, throw-away packets, these pads are a green alternative that produces less waste.

Acetone or non-acetone?

Using the right nail polish remover for your needs can make the whole process easier and faster. Most people can get away with non-acetone removers. It takes longer but is much gentler on your hands. If you wear glitter or metallic polish, you're going to need to keep an acetone remover in your cabinet.

See Also:

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