7 Best Nail Polish Removers in 2020

After conducting thorough research, we nominated the Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover as our Top Pick and the best nail polish remover because we liked that it is an acetone-free 10-free formula. It’s also vegan-friendly, gluten-free and can be used on most traditional nail polishes.

To create our guide for the best nail polish remover, we prioritized the following independently selected criteria: polish compatibility, application method, texture, and ingredients. We know that depending on the type of nail polish or treatment you’re using, not all removers are compatible. Likewise, depending on the setting where you’ll be removing a manicure, some textures or application methods are better than others. And we also considered the ingredients and whether it contained acetone. Keep reading to learn more about our criteria and to shop from our recommendations.

Top 7 Best Nail Polish Removers

 #1  Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: A 10-free remover that’s as effective as it is gentle, and designed for use with traditional and natural nail polishes makes it the best nail polish remover without acetone.

Pros
  • Gentle 10-free acetone-free formula
  • Vegan-friendly and gluten-free
  • Works on traditional and natural nail polishes
Cons
  • Not ideal for salon gel polish

If you’re new to the world of nail polish, you might not know that a few years ago, the concept of “10-free” grew in popularity. 10-free means that nail polish or remover is cruelty-free and devoid of common toxins such as parabens, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, DBP, triphenyl phosphate, and camphor. While we can’t say this is a clean beauty brand, the Mineral Fusion nail polish remover is our Top Pick and we believe the best nail polish remover without acetone because it’s a 10-free vegan-friendly, Carbonfree pick that’s also cruelty-free.

This six-ounce bottle of nail polish remover is designed to work with traditional polishes that may not be 10-free as well as Mineral Fusion’s collection of natural gel nail polishes. The non-drying formula is safe for natural nails, your cuticles, and other layers of your nail. Note though, that this polish remover is not rated for use with salon gel polishes. To keep your skin soft, you should also read our guide to the best body lotion. 

 #2  Karma Organic Beauty Natural Nail Polish Remover

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: A natural-based vegan-friendly, cruelty-free oil-based nail polish remover that’s designed to strengthen your nails as you use it proves it’s one of the best nail polish removers.

Pros
  • Safe for people with skin sensitivities
  • Vitamin enriched with lavender oil to strengthen nails
  • Certified vegan-friendly and cruelty-free
Cons
  • Not compatible with gels or acrylics

Many people prefer oil-based nail polish removers because they tend to be gentler and less likely to dry out your nail beds or cuticles as you use them. Our Honorable Mention from Karma Organic is a naturally derived nail polish remover that is made with soybean oil and lavender. We think it’s one of the best nail polish removers because it’s gentle and even though it’s not a 10-free brand, it is free of petroleum ingredients, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, DBP, camphor, acetone, and alcohol.

This nail polish remover can be used on a wide array of polishes, not just those from Karma Organic. However, it can’t be used on gel polish or acrylic nails. Still, we like that the included lavender, aloe, and vitamins leave your nails stronger and nourished. And you’ll appreciate that it doesn’t have that stereotypical harsh smell that you normally get from most acetone and acetone-free removers. And we like that this pick promises to prevent staining by removing even the darkest of polish from your nails. If you want to keep your face moisturized, you should also read our guide to the best eye cream.

 #3  Cutex Care Swipe and Go Nail Polish Remover Pads

Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL

WHY WE LIKE IT: A smart on the go solution that eliminates the mess normally associated with nail polish remover, with a set of 10 acetone soaked pads, making them the best nail polish remover pads.

Pros
  • 1 packet can remove full manicure
  • Acetone-based formula ideal for gels and glitter
  • 10 individually wrapped pads per package
Cons
  • Some may not like the strong acetone smell

Most of us don’t want to walk around with a bottle of nail polish remover and a pack of cotton balls or pads with us. So, if you’re on the go and need to get rid of that chipped manicure, we think the best nail polish remover pads are this Cutex Care Swipe and Go set. You’ll get 10 individually wrapped acetone soaked pads that are ready to go.

One pad can remove a full 10-set manicure and the pads are thick enough that you can be sure there’s plenty of nail polish remover for each nail. Note that these pads are soaked in an acetone formula so they can be used to remove more stubborn types of polish like gel and glitter. However, this pick does have that strong nail polish remover odor, so you might want to be mindful of where you are when you use them. You can store these near your best-lighted makeup mirror so you are always prepared.

 #4  Pronto 100% Pure Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Award: BEST VERSATILITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: A bottle of 100% acetone nail polish remover that can tackle any nail art, polish or extension you throw at it — proving it’s the best nail polish remover with acetone.

Pros
  • Fast-acting formula
  • Acetone is compatible with gel, glitter, acrylic, and glue removal
  • Large 8 oz container
Cons
  • Acetone can dry out nail beds and cuticles

Hands down (no pun intended), acetone nail polish remover is popular for a reason — because it’s effective. While we understand why some people avoid it, we also know that if you’re rocking acrylics, gels, dip powder, or a 10-set of glitter nails, you’re going to need a remover that’s up to the challenge. We think Pronto’s solution is the best nail polish remover with acetone and the best nail polish remover for glitter.

The large eight-ounce bottle makes it a smart choice especially if you’re trying to remove acrylics at home since you’ll need to soak your fingertips in enough liquid that the nails are fully submerged. It’s also a great option for removing any residual nail glue on your natural nails. Of course, acetone can be drying. So, be sure to follow up with good cuticle oil and moisturizer after use. For your daily getting ready needs, you should also read our guide to the best curling iron.

 #5  Sally Hansen Strengthening Nail Polish Remover

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: A simple budget-friendly drugstore pick that works to strengthen nails while effectively removing all traces of your last mani-pedi.

Pros
  • Formula designed to soften cuticles
  • Contains gelatin to strengthen nails with each use
  • Ideal for weak or thinning nails
Cons
  • Not as effective on gel nails

If you’re shopping on a budget, you really can’t go wrong with our Best on a Budget recommendation with Sally Hansen. This trusted brand has been providing support for all things nails for decades and if you need a quality nail polish remover that won’t break the bank, we think their eight-ounce Strengthening Nail Polish Remover will do the trick.

While this is an acetone-based formula, we like that it also contains gelatin, vitamins, and wheat protein to infuse your nail beds with strength. This option is specifically designed for weak and thin nails. As is common with most consumer-focused nail polish removers, this pick contains Bittrex to prevent ingestion. Note though, that while this is an acetone remover, through our research we found that it may not be as effective on more durable polishes like gel. If you know someone that likes to keep up with the latest in beauty, check out this guide to the best hair dryer for the perfect gift.

 #6  Al’iver Magic Nail Polish Remover Set

Award: BEST QUALITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: A serious gel polish remover that melts off durable polishes and comes with a complete set of tools for easier use, making it the best nail polish remover for no-chip polishes.

Pros
  • Strong enough to dissolve dip powder
  • Comes with nail tools, emery boards, and buffers
  • Works in 3 to 5 minutes to remove polish
Cons
  • Dip removal requires multiple applications

If you’ve ever tried to remove gel manicures or dip powders with regular nail polish remover you know that it takes time, aluminum foil, and a lot of patience. We’re nominating this gel removal kit from Al’iver as not just the best nail polish remover for no-chip polishes but as the best nail polish remover for dip powder too.

With this Best Quality recommendation you get not just two bottles of brush on nail polish remover, but a cuticle tool to push off the polish, three nail files, and three buffing boards. In as little as three to five minutes, you can quickly remove traditional soak-off gels. For dip powders, this product does work, but will most likely require at least two applications. So, expect it to take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to remove a full dip powder manicure.

 #7  Pretty Nails Regular Nail Polish Remover

Award: BEST MESS FREE

WHY WE LIKE IT: A no-mess way to quickly remove nail polish by simply dipping your fingers in the pre-soaked foam and wiping any traces of your old manicure away.

Pros
  • Sponge formula speeds up process
  • Comes with a wand for toes
  • Great for regular nail polish
Cons
  • Not effective for gel or dip nails

If you hate soaking cotton pads in nail polish remover, then this sponge formula from Pretty Nails is the way to go. We like that this instant polish remover is designed for even the laziest manicure wearer. Simply unscrew the lid, slip your fingers into the slit between the pre-soaked sponges, twist, and watch as your manicure becomes a thing of the past.

This container is the equivalent of an eight-ounce bottle of liquid nail polish remover. You’ll like that it also comes with a wand so that you can dip the wand into the container, soak the tip, and apply the remover to your toes to get rid of that old pedicure. This acetone-based formula is perfect for traditional nail polishes but shouldn’t be used for gel or dip powder nails.

How We Decided

Nail polish remover is a pretty standard item for beauty lovers, but there are so many options to choose from as you shop for it. To create our guide, we focused on the following key features — polish compatibility, application method, texture, and ingredients.

In our guide, we provided options that would work for all the main types of nail polish and treatments: traditional, gel, glitter (because glitter is notoriously difficult to remove), dip powder, and acrylics. Our recommendations can be broken down into acetone and acetone-free options. The natural-based formulas were all acetone-free and promoted the use of natural ingredients like soy oil while highlighting the fact that they were either 10-free or predominantly free of most of the harsh chemicals found in nail polish remover.

We also considered the nail polish remover formula. While a thin liquid formula is one of the most widely recognized options, we also included oil-based, brush-on, and pre-soaked options that would reduce the mess factor.

However, natural formulas usually weren’t compatible with more durable polishes like gel and dip powder and were not rated for use with acrylic nails. For these types of polishes and treatments, acetone was the best bet. And in the case of gel and dip powders, our Best Quality recommendation was the only one that could guarantee quick polish removal.

The application method was another major issue. We made sure to include traditional options that needed to be used with a cotton pad, as well as user-friendly picks like pre-soaked travel pads, a brush-on formula for gels and dip powder, and a quick pre-soaked sponge option that’s perfect for at-home use.

Best Nail Polish Remover Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Polish Compatibility
    It might seem like nail polish remover is a one-size-fits-all concept, but it’s not. Depending on the type of polish you’re using (gel, dip powder, etc.) and whether you’re working with your natural nails or extensions like acrylic or silk wraps, you’ll want to be sure that your polish remover is designed to properly remove a specific type of polish quickly without damaging your nails.
  2. Application Method
    While most people are familiar with traditional liquid nail polish remover bottles that you see at drug stores, there are also other application methods. Nail polish remover can also be found in sponge form, or travel-friendly single-use wipes so that you can remove your nail polish on the go. And in many cases, for gel and dip powder removal, you may find that a brush-on style product is the most efficient. Keep in mind that while traditional liquid nail polish removers can be applied with a cotton ball or pad, some of the more intensive removers for gel and dip powder may require additional tools to effectively remove the polish.
  3. Texture
    Likewise, there’s more than one texture when it comes to nail polish remover. The most well-known is a thin liquid that must be soaked in a cotton pad to use. But you can also find oil-based removers which can be gentler on your nails. And again, some nail polish removers are thicker and the consistency of nail polish to work quickly and breakthrough harder polishes like gels and dip powders.
  4. Ingredients
    While acetone is one of the most popular nail polish remover ingredients, many people feel that it’s too harsh since it tends to dry out your nails and cuticles. So, it’s also possible to find non-acetone based nail polish removers. Additionally, you’ll often find that many removers include ingredients like Vitamin E, jojoba, or other moisturizers to nourish your nails.moisturizers to nourish your nails.

Nail Polish Remover FAQs

What is the best type of nail polish remover?

This depends on the type of nail polish that you’re wearing. For traditional nail polish, a soaked cotton ball in acetone or non-acetone based liquid, or a sponge or wipe remover will be sufficient. But for more durable polishes like gels and dip powders, you’re most likely going to need an acetone-based remover. And if you’re wearing nail extensions like acrylics or wraps, you should stick to non-acetone removers to preserve their lifespan. In our guide, we selected a 10-free nail polish remover from Mineral Fusion as our Top Pick because it was free from harsh ingredients and was effective on most polishes excluding salon gels.

What nail polish remover is better, acetone or non-acetone?

Acetone is the most effective and quickest way to remove nail polish, but it has a reputation for being drying. However, an acetone soaked cotton ball is ideal for more stubborn polishes like glitter, gels, and dip powder. Acetone shouldn’t be used with nail extensions because it can cause them to lift or become brittle. So, match your nail polish remover with the type of polish you’re using and whether you’re using it on natural nails versus extensions.

Is soaking fingers in acetone dangerous?

The short answer is no. Anyone who’s worn gel polish or extensions knows that when it’s time to take them off, these types of polish or nails don’t come off as quickly as regular polish. You’ll need to soak your nails in acetone for a few minutes. While it’s not dangerous, it can be drying for your nails and cuticles. So, it’s best to follow up with good cuticle oil.

How do I remove acrylic nails at home?

You’ll need to make sure you have enough nail polish remover to pour in a bowl so that your nails can be fully submerged in it. If you’re using acetone nail polish remover, you can wait 10 minutes and check to see if the acrylic nail has begun to lift. If you’re using non-acetone nail polish remover, you may need to wait as long as 30 minutes before confirming that the extension has begun to lift. Once it has, you can use an orange stick or tweezers to gently lift the extensions and remove them.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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