Removing your nail polish isn't the most exciting of tasks, especially if you have a polish that doesn't want to budge. (A deep red can stain your nails for weeks, and if you ever opted for glitter, you know the struggle to get it off.) Plus, so many formulas instantly make your nails feel dry and shriveled. The best nail polish removers, however, are safe for your hands, fingers, and toes, dissolve the toughest polishes in no time, and don't leave your phalanges high and dry.
"[The ease of removal] depends on the pigmentation of the polish being used," Tracy Lok, an artist at Vanity Projects, tells TZR. "The deeper the pigment, the longer the polish removal will take... but generally, it takes two to three minutes to remove most leftover polish."
Even though there are many options to choose from, a common concern is related to the harsh chemicals in the formula. “The best nail polish remover that I have found is pure acetone — it’s great for polish and gel polish removal,” says Tom Bachik, a manicurist to celebrities like Eve, Khloé Kardashian, and Cindy Crawford. “I've heard a lot of concern about its toxicity, but speaking to chemists, they preferred acetone versus non-acetone removers. The speed of removal with acetone and its high evaporation rate means its exposure is less than non-acetone removers. Non-acetone removers take longer to remove polish, so the exposure is much greater."
While acetone is technically safe, the harsh chemical smell is one that most people turn their nose up at. "I like to use Deborah Lippmann and OPI's polish removers," celebrity nail artist, Sarah Chue, who works with Emily Ratajkowski, Fifth Harmony, and Yara Shahidi, says. "The smell of these doesn't come close to what acetone smells like — they have a fragrant smell that can't be beat!"
Another important factor is ease of application. You don't necessarily have to use a ton of cotton rounds anymore, which prevents spill disasters. "I like removers that come in a spill-proof pump dispenser. That makes it easy to use and soak up the cotton pad with the remover," Kim Truong, a celebrity manicurist who includes Chrissy Teigen, Kylie Jenner, and Camila Cabello as clients, says.
Scroll ahead to shop the most efficient polish removers used by professionals.
3-In-1 Formula Remove Plus
This remover is "gentle and removes dark shades of nail polish, even glitter without drying the cuticles and nails out," Truong says. "It also helps to prep and clean the nail surface for extended polish wear." Lok counts it as one of her faves, too.
The Stripper - Nail Polish Remover
"This remover contains moisturizing agents such as aloe vera to maintain moisture while removing polish," Chue says.
"Orly's polish remover is not too harsh on the client's nails or skin, and the smell isn't too harsh compared to pure acetone," Lok notes.
Expert Touch Lacquer Remover
"If I could guess, I say it takes about 15 to 20 seconds to remove polish from each nail," Chue tells TZR.
Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Up & Up
Bachik likes to use an acetone based remover like this one, which is easy to find at most local drugstores. (And cheap, too!)
Soy Nail Polish Remover
An acetone-free option, this remover is full of vitamins to keep nails moisturized and has lavender essential oils infused into its formula.
Nail Polish Remover
These pre-saturated sponges are filled with a collagen-rich formula that leaves nails looking healthy and clean.
Takeoff Towels Remover
"Côte's towels are great for removing polish, especially your everyday manicure," Chillhouse nail artist Molly Romah says. Each towel is individually-wrapped and easy to take with you if you're traveling or have limited space.
Offly Fast Moisturizing Remover
"You can use it to remove shellac, gels, nail polish, powder wraps, adhesive and tips from natural nails," Romah says. "It also reduces dehydration of the nails and the surrounding skin."
Take It Off Remover Sheets
Celebrity manicurist Mar y Sol says she's a fan of these non-acetone wipes that are soaked in a soy-based lacquer remover.
Swipe and Go Nail Polish Remover Pads - 10ct
"These wipes are super charged with acetone and work really well," Sol says.