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Things You Should Know about Nail Polish Removers

Dhanya Joy
Applying nail paint has been a way of beautifying nails since time immemorial; and where there is a nail polish, there is always a nail polish remover. A nail polish remover is a mixture of one or more chemicals―in some cases, also some natural extracts―where some are less harmful than the others.

Did You Know?

One of the many chemicals found in nail polish removers is 'acetonitrile'. However, because this chemical is considered to be potentially carcinogenic, its usage in cosmetic products has been banned in the European Economic Area since 17 March 2000.
While it is absolutely true that no nail polish lover would be able to survive without an efficacious nail polish remover, another truth is that most of us never really think beyond the brand when it comes to buying this product. And who can blame us? The world is all about brands, isn't it?
Brands that can help us save time and effort in a lifestyle where we need to change our nail paint as often as our attire. But, in the midst of all the glamor and grooming, we mustn't discard the need to dig in and find out what exactly are we exposing ourselves to.
While occasional usage of these products isn't considered to be a hazard, regular exposure―especially for those of us who use it everyday, or every other day―can lead to potential trouble.
Whether we check out an online store or a physical one, we are bombarded with many variants of nail polish removers, all claiming to be better, safer, and efficient than the others. As we said earlier, our first focus goes on the brand, the second on the price, and the third on the attractiveness of the product.
However, after going through the following section, we are sure that you would change your approach towards buying a good nail polish remover completely.


➥ Acetone

The primary ingredient in most nail polish removers found in the market is acetone. Although this could be the best bet when it comes to getting the nail paint removed quickly, without much ado, it isn't an ideal choice for regular usage. It can cause reactions including irritation in the eyes, throat, and skin. Moreover, because acetone is highly flammable, it tends to dry out the skin and rip the protective natural oils from the nails, making them dull and brittle.

➥ Ethyl acetate

In the quest to find an acetone-free nail enamel remover, you will land up into one that contains ethyl acetate. While "assumed" to be comparatively safer to use, it isn't all that safe as well. An exposure to the skin, eyes, nose, or mouth can cause irritation. Even the throat and stomach can get affected by it. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), high concentrations of this chemical can also lead to fainting.

➥ Isopropyl acetate

You will also find many nail polish removers in the market that will contain isopropyl acetate. This chemical too can cause sleepiness, and can be termed as an irritant to the eyes, nose, and throat. It is derived from isopropyl alcohol.

➥ Butyl acetate

A commonly used ingredient in nail polish remover is butyl acetate, which is also found in nail polishes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that this chemical can lead to "headaches and irritated eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and throat."

➥ Natural ingredients

In order to avoid or minimize the amount of toxicity that nail polish remover contains, many manufacturers have also come up with natural and organic options. Ingredients such as glycerin, aloe vera, soy, vitamin E, protein extracts, and other natural oils are included in these solvents to minimize the damage. Many are labeled as biodegradable. And yes, perfumes, scents, and coloring agents are also used.
Whether we checked the label before buying this nail-grooming essential or not, the truth is that most of these names just seemed alien to us, didn't they? However, after realizing the potential aftereffects of these ingredients, we are sure that the labeling will not only be checked, but the names would be remembered as well.
The key is to opt for the product that is more towards the natural side than the chemical side. And with the consumers going all environment-friendly and label-conscious by the day, finding a safer nail polish remover shouldn't be a problem.

Working Mechanism

How do these removers work? We're sure you'd want to know that, since we're going all technical to learn more about them. Well, nail polishes primarily constitute three agents―for thickening, drying, and coloring. When applied on the nails, these chemical compounds harden upon drying.
In order to remove these hardened polymers, a liquid solvent is needed that can break these molecules and wipe them off.

Nail polish removers contain organic solvents which are capable of dissolving the nail polish.
When the organic solvent is placed on a cotton ball and rubbed against the painted nail, the nail polish dissolves the polymer and solidifies it on the cotton ball. And this is how you get your nails all clean―back to their natural state.

Safety Tips

While we possibly cannot abandon the usage of this essential solvent, there are certainly ways through which we can minimize the potential risks that come along with them. These are discussed as follows.
➥ Ensure that you check the labeling/ingredients thoroughly before buying the nail polish remover.
➥ Ensure that you remove the nail paint in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhalation of the chemicals evaporated.
➥ Limit the use of acetone-based removers only for removing dark shades or acrylic paints.
➥ As much as possible, opt for the natural variants in the market.
➥ If you have any cuts or cracks on your skin or nail, cover them up before you apply or remove the nail paint.
➥ Ensure that the container of the nail polish remover is tightly closed to avoid spills or leaks.
➥ Dispose the used cotton balls by placing them in airtight bags to avoid the air being exposed to the chemical through evaporation.

Uses of Nail Polish Remover

You would be surprised to know that nail polish removers aren't just used for removing nail polishes! Yes, the ingredients present in these can prove to be helpful in performing various other cleaning tasks. These include: removing stains from your chinaware and/or vinyl floor; cleaning paint, ink stains, superglue, glass stickers, keyboards; dissolving melted plastic; sanitizing razors; etc.

The Final Say

As handy as these liquid agents seem to be, the truth is that they come with a "Use with caution" label. Hence, we can never take these for granted, especially when it comes to the safety quotient. Be it nail polishes or nail polish removers, both are loaded with adequate chemicals that are hazardous to our health, when we're exposed to them beyond a certain degree. Therefore, the key solution is not only to buy natural options, but also to use them in moderation.