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The Best Nail Polish Removers

🕚 Updated September 2022

When your manicure starts to look tired, you'll need a quality nail polish remover to start fresh with a new chic look. Here are some reliable nail polish removers to keep in your bathroom closet.

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  Best Overall Best Gel Remover Best Non-Acetone Best Wipes Best Electronic
Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover
Gel Nail Polish Remover
Soy Nail Polish Remover
Diamond Wipes
Acetone Nail Polish Remover Pads
Nail Polish Remover Steam Machine Set
Our SummaryRemove your gel polish at home like a professional with this pro-strength gel nail polish remover.Remove tricky gel polish in as little as five minutes with this peel-off gel nail polish remover.This gentle soy-based nail polish remover works best with traditional nail polish.Freshen your nails on-the-go with these easy-to-use nail polish remover wipes.This remover uses steam to soften thick gel and shellac polish.
ProsPowerful, 98% acetone, also contains skin-loving ingredients, doesn't leave streaks.For tough gel nail polish, works in as little as 3-5 minutes, no caustic odors.Great for sensitive skin, contains vitamins, pleasant scent.Individually wrapped, easy to open, contain nourishing aloe, made in solar-powered facility.Gentle steam, no caustic smells, won't damage nails, less scraping.
ConsMay dry nail beds and cuticles.May dry out when not in use, may take several applications to work effectively.Works on standard nail lacquer only, more expensive per ounce than most.Wipes may dry out over time.Not time-efficient, potential heating issues.
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The Best Nail Polish Removers

A woman uses nail polish remover on a cotton pad to take dark red nail polish off.

Buying Guide for Nail Polish Removers

Woman using blue nail polish remover on white cotton pad for manicure.

Why buy nail polish remover?

If you prefer home manicures over the salon, whether to save money, get it done on your own time, or enjoy the creative process, then you’ll need a top-quality nail polish remover in your manicure kit. Nail polish remover will leave your nails clean after you’re finished with one manicure so that you can set the baseline for a new one. It’s also there to correct over-painted cuticles.

What should you consider in nail polish remover?

  • Nail Polish Type: There are many types of nail polish remover on the market, so you’ll want to find one that will work well with the type of nail polish you prefer to use. If you have a lot of standard nail polish, you can find many simple nail polish removers that will do the trick. If you prefer gel or shellac nail polish, you will need more powerful products made specifically to remove gel polish (usually pure acetone and foils).
  • Active Ingredients: While acetone is the most well-known and commonly used nail polish remover, there are some removers on the market that are acetone-free. Acetone can sometimes irritate the skin, though most cases of skin irritation are mild, while removers such as dimethyl glutarate are more gentle and naturally derived.
  • Removal Method: Some nail polish removers work by soaking a cotton pad and then removing the polish from your nails. Some pads come pre-soaked in nail polish remover. Some removers use natural steam to help remove difficult polish. And some require soaking or leaving the nails on for some time, depending on the type of nail polish you are using. Whatever nail polish removal method you choose, be sure you have enough time to remove your nail polish thoroughly with your chosen method.

Is nail polish remover harmful to the skin?

In small amounts, no. Although using acetone nail polish remover can cause some brittleness in your nails as well as some dry or itchy skin around the nail, these conditions clear up quickly. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with mild soap after using nail polish remover, and use a nail-friendly hand lotion afterward to ward off any dry skin. You can also spread Vaseline or cuticle oil around the nails to prevent dryness or irritation before you use acetone-based removers.

Our Picks for the Best Nail Polish Removers

Best Overall

Cutex Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover

Remove your gel polish at home like a professional with this pro-strength gel nail polish remover.

Pros: The title doesn’t lie: this nail polish remover is powerful. It doesn’t require soaking to remove most tough nail polish such as glitter nail polish or long-wear nail polish. But it may require soaking for shellac or UV salon gel nail polish. It’s made with 98% acetone for the fastest, most potent removal of just about any type of nail polish. But it also contains skin-loving ingredients such as apricot kernel oil to prevent redness and fight irritation. This nail polish remover has a cool cucumber scent, so it’s not quite as jarring to the nose as other strong nail polish removers. And it doesn’t leave white streaks on your nails after using it.

Cons: This nail polish remover may leave your nail beds and cuticles feeling dry.

Bottom Line: This nail polish remover works like a standard remover, but better! The product goes a long way and lasts longer than many other brands. And it’s affordable, too.


Best Gel Remover

AL'IVER Gel Nail Polish Remover

Remove tricky gel polish in as little as five minutes with this peel-off gel nail polish remover.

Pros: For tough gel nail polish, try painting this nail polish remover onto the nails and allowing the formula to break down the gel polish surface after 3-5 minutes. You won’t need to soak your nails in caustic acetone or wrap them in foils for the product to work. Just apply it to the nails, then peel off the unwanted polish! It’s lightly scented, efficient, and safe to use at home. And if used correctly, this nail polish remover shouldn’t irritate the skin. It’s important to avoid getting it on your skin, especially the face. Best of all, it has a far less caustic smell than many other nail polish removers.

Cons: Unfortunately, this nail polish remover may dry out quickly when not in use. And it may take several applications to remove gel polish successfully.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a way to remove gel nail polish remover without paying the high price at a salon, this may be a great at-home nail polish remover for you to try. It takes some trial and error to figure out how many applications you may need and how much time it will take. But it will still take less time and cost less money than the salon.


Best Non-Acetone

ella+mila Soy Nail Polish Remover

This gentle soy-based nail polish remover works best with traditional nail polish.

Pros: Great for kids and adults with sensitive skin, this soy-based nail polish remover is gentle and effective. Its active ingredient is dimethyl glutarate, a compound found in herbs that is acidic and can break down pigments with ease. It also contains vitamins A, C, and E and essential lavender oil for skin-loving nourishment and a pleasant scent. It’s vegan and PETA Certified cruelty-free. And when you put it on, it feels and smells like massage oil and moisturizes your nails, cuticles, and fingers.

Cons: This nail polish remover is not intended for use with gel or shellac. It’s also a bit more expensive per ounce than other standard nail polish removers.

Bottom Line: For people with sensitive skin or sensitive noses, this nail polish remover does its job without the harshness of other products. It’s made with natural oils and plant derivatives instead of alcohol and acetone. And because it’s more of an oil than a liquid, a little goes a long way.


Best Wipes

Diamond Wipes Acetone Nail Polish Remover Pads

Freshen your nails on-the-go with these easy-to-use nail polish remover wipes.

Pros: These individually wrapped nail polish remover wipes are great if you don’t paint your nails often or if you love to travel. The packets are easy to open, and the wipes glide smoothly and don’t require a lot of elbow grease to remove nail polish thoroughly. They’re acetone based, so they work quickly and effectively removing standard nail polish without leaving streaks or stains behind. Plus, these nail polish remover wipes contain skin-loving aloe, so they won’t dry out your nail beds, and they will leave your nails clean and shiny. On top of that, these are made in a facility in California that uses solar power for energy.

Cons: Some buyers had issues with these wipes drying out after sitting for a long time.

Bottom Line: For tidy nails on the go, these nail polish remover wipes are a must-have. They’re larger than many of the other nail polish remover wipes on the market. And they work effectively.


Best Electronic

BLUETOP Nail Polish Remover Steam Machine Set

This remover uses steam to soften thick gel and shellac polish.

Pros: This machine uses gentle steam to heat up your nail polish remover, allowing you to remove your softened polish gentler than wrapping it with foil. It heats up to no more than 125 degrees Fahrenheit, so it gets warm enough to be effective without burning the skin or causing discomfort. Because the nail polish remover goes inside the machine, the smell isn’t overpowering. Pro tip: you should file down the top coat before you begin steaming your nails for the best outcome. Overall, this machine allows you to remove your salon-quality nail polish without damaging your nails.

Cons: It takes several cycles to get acrylics, gel, shellac, or dip polish off using this steamer, so it’s not the most time-efficient choice. Some buyers also had issues with this machine not heating up properly.

Bottom Line: For the manicure enthusiast in your life, this polish-removing steam machine makes an excellent gift. It comes with directions that most buyers find easy to follow. And though it’s not the fastest option, it won’t damage your nails or nail beds.

Final Thoughts

Nail polish remover comes in many forms for all the different kinds of nail polish. You can even find plant-based nail polish removers for people with sensitive skin. Based on this guide, we hope you can find the right one for you, whether you enjoy painting your nails with standard nail polish, dip, gel, or shellac.

Stacy Rounds Stacy Rounds
Stacy is a freelance writer. She has created a variety of web and print copy, from lifestyle and dating advice to small business reviews and short stories. She has a degree in business and marketing and has worked for several years as a social media manager. Through writing creative fiction, satire, and advertisements, she developed a passion for the written word. She enjoys cooking and painting in her free time. Read Full Bio »
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