15 August 2013

"Natural" / Non-Toxic Nail Polish Removers

The whole idea of natural nail polish remover (and nail polish, for that matter) is a bit of a fallacy, but there are definitely healthier options than your conventional acetone remover.  It's been a long journey, filled with multiple removers and very mixed results, but I've finally found one I'm happy with, so I figured there was no better time to do a comparison post than now.  None of these removers wipe polish off with the ease of acetone, so a lot of it comes down to how much time and effort you're willing to put into removing your nail polish.  The other big factor for me is scent.  Keep reading to hear the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of these four non-toxic nail polish removers.


THE CONTENDERS


No Miss Almost Natural Nail Polish Remover ($4.95/7.95 for 60 ml/120 ml)
"Made with all natural ingredients. Smells like vanilla! No more dry brittle nails!  Gentle and non-drying!" 

The smell!  Oh god, the smell!  Imagine the most horrendous fake vanilla scent crossed with acetone, and you get how No Miss' Almost Natural Nail Polish Remover smells.  And, don't think that you can escape it by washing your hands/feet afterwards.  Oh no, the smell hangs around for a good 12-24 hours, no matter what you do.  Showers, socks, and even essential oils are all powerless against the nauseating scent.  I last used this probably 5+ years ago and it's just been idling in my cupboard ever since.


If you can get past the smell, it does the job removing polish, although it does take scrubbing and multiple applications of remover.  Time-wise, it'll run you about 30 minutes.


Ingredients: Fruit acid solvent (Methyl-Pentan-2 One, Multi-fruit Acids), Amber Acid (derived from plant lichens), Deionized Water, Vitamin A, Natural Vanilla Fragrance



Suncoat Natural Nail Polish Remover Gel ($7.99 for 30 ml)
"The first natural nail polish remover gel in the market.  A one-of-a-kind product made from corn & soy, this gentle gel is earth friendly, nontoxic, non-drying to the nails. Free of petrochemicals. Biodegradable. Ideal for home use, great for travel.  Safe and effective. Works with all nail polishes, water-based and conventional."

I was intrigued by the idea of a gel remover, but unfortunately I ended up being very underwhelmed.  You have to leave the remover sitting on your nails for a good 5+ minutes and then literally scrape the polish off with some kind of stick.  Using cotton balls is completely ineffective, unless you have multiple hours to kill.  Even with the scraping method, it'll take you multiple applications and a good hour (or more) to fully remove your polish.  

Contrary to the claims, Suncoat's remover dries out both your nails and cuticles.  It also smears your polish around, rather than just removing it, so you're left with fingers or toes whatever color the polish you're removing was.  (Eg. remove purple polish, end up with purple toes.)  The color generally washes off with soap and water, but it's an added nuisance.  

I'm not sure how to describe how this one smells, but it's not good.  It's not as strong as acetone, but it definitely has a chemical scent.  If the remover was more effective, so you weren't breathing it in for so long, it might not be an issue, but as it is, I'm always left with a bit of a sore throat after using it.  

Ingredients: Ethyl Lactate, Methyl Soyate, Glycerin, Silica, Vitamin A, Biotin

Sante Nail Polish Remover ($13.00 for 100 ml) 
"Sante's Nail Polish Remover is formulated with organic orange oil, giving a pleasant scent unlike those other brand nail polish removers that smell like pure alcohol and chemicals. It is acetone-free, so it will not eat away at your nails, instead it leaves your nails strong and healthy."

I feel the most so-so about Sante's remover.  It works, but like the No Miss, it'll take 30 minutes and a good amount of elbow grease.  On the plus side, it doesn't take a ton of product to do the job, just a lot of scrubbing.  It also doesn't dry out your nails like the Suncoat, and instead leaves them feeling relatively strong and moisturized.

Since Sante advertises this as having a pleasant orange smell, I was really expecting more.  I don't smell orange at all.  Instead, it smells very similar to Suncoat's remover - which is to say chemically - if a little less strong.   There's also a hint of sour milk going on, mixed in with the chemical scent.  On the plus side, since it doesn't take quite as long to remove your polish, it's more tolerable.  The smell also doesn't linger and easily washes off with soap and water.

Ingredients: Alcohol Denat.*, Ethyl Lactate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Aqua (Water), Citrus Auranium Dulcis (Orange) Oil*, Limonene, Linalool
*Organically Grown


Priti NYC Soy Nail Polish Remover Wipes ($9.99 for 10 wipes)
"PRITI NYC Natural Polish Remover is totally natural and uses a carefully blended mix of natural ingredients that are kind on your nails and skin. With no harmful man made chemicals it's perfect for you, your family and the planet.  It is also 100% biodegradable, non-toxic and not carcinogenic."

I would usually choose liquid remover over wipes, but I'd been having a hard time tracking Priti's remover down in Canada, so I decided to try these out instead.  The wipes aren't super saturated with remover - on my first go, I wondered if it was dried out - but they still get the job done. I only need one wipe to remove all my polish, and while the process isn't without some scrubbing, it requires much less than the three others removers.  It only takes about 15 minutes to fully remove your polish.  

The remover feels more oily than anything else and it leaves a thin layer of oil on your nails.  I'm not sure it does anything to strengthen or improve the condition of your nails, but Priti's remover isn't drying and leaves my nails in the best shape of the lot.  The scent is also quite lovely.  I was very skeptical after the rest of these, but it's light and refreshing, without even a trace of a chemical smell.  

Ingredients: Methyl Soyate, Dimethyl Apidate, Dimethyl Gluturate, Cymbopogon Flexusus (Organic Lemongrass Essential Oil)



THE WINNER
Priti NYC, by far.  It's the most effective, and it even smells good!  Unfortunately it's also the most expensive option, with a 120 ml bottle of the liquid remover retailing for a cringe-inducing $22.50.  Nonetheless, it's the only one of the four that I can see myself repurchasing.


FINAL INGREDIENT NOTE
I can't do a post on nail polish remover without mentioning that calling any of these removers "natural" really is greenwashing at its worst.  They may not contain acetone, but they do contain other chemicals.  Sure, methyl soyate comes from soy, but it's gone through so many chemical reactions to reach this point, that I don't think you can claim it as a natural ingredient anymore.  Same goes for ethyl lactate (from corn), and methyl-pentan-2 one (from fruit).  That said, I'm confident that these, along with 3/4/5-free polishes are safer options than their conventional alternatives.  NO PREACHING HERE - I (obviously) use nail polish and nail polish remover and I don't think there's anything wrong with doing so, I just hate to see people operating under the misconception that products like this are 100% natural.  


Have you tried any of these removers?  Where do you stand on nail polish/nail polish remover?


22 comments:

  1. Just goes to show not everyone digs the same stuff! I'm still loving Sante, but maybe Priti NYC it'd be a different story. Really great point about them being called natural...I prefer the term greener :)

    Mayah x

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    1. I don't hate the Sante...before I found the Priti, that's what I was using :) I'm just not a fan of the smell.

      Greener is a good way of putting it!

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  2. This was a great idea, thanks for sharing Caitie! Ordering Priti right away :)

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    1. I figured someone should benefit from all my recent frustration with removers! Let me know how you like the Priti :)

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  3. Interesting to see what else is available in the nail polish remover category. Before I tried the one from Fresh Therapies I had my eye on Priti so interesting to get your feedback ;)

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    1. I've seen good reviews for Fresh Therapies from a few UK bloggers :) Don't think we can get it here though, so I'm just glad I found something else that works!

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  4. I only tried Sante remover and I'm not a fan..like you said it takes so much time and a lot of scrubbing:/

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    1. Yeah, the Sante takes some effort for sure! I much prefer the Priti :)

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  5. Great post! Been looking for a non-toxic nail polish remover. Thanks girl! :)

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    1. No problem! Glad it was helpful :)

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  6. I use the Zoya Remove Plus, it doesn't seem as harsh as the acetone...I don't feel like it's worth it to call something "natural" when obviously it's full of chemicals and/or chemically refined ingredients! Very misleading! :P

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    1. Definitely agree!

      I like Zoya polishes, but I've read that Remove Plus is just acetone with added glycerin to make it seem less harsh. Not sure how true that is, but there are a few DIYs floating around for how to dupe it yourself for much less money, if you're ever interested in experimenting :)

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  7. I haven't tried any of these. Had my eyes on Sante and Priti, but seeing as I never wear nail polish anyway I just stick to whatever toxic nail polish remover my mom has. Acetone free though, that's a plus no? lol xo

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    1. Definitely, especilly if you don't wear much polish, it's not a big deal! I was wearing less before I had a good remover, but I really do love having polish on my toes :)

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  8. Thank you for putting natural in quotes, you are always so practical!
    I am still using up my acetone based one from pre-natural days, because I very rarely paint my nails. I also bought one from Honeybee Gardens, I like that it doesn't smell to strongly but it makes my fingers feel weird after... hard to describe. I will have to try it a few more times to have a verdict.

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    1. I haven't tried the Honeybee Gardens...I wonder why it makes your fingers feel weird! Does it works on solvent-based polishes? That's always my concern with removers from companies who make water-based polishes.

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  9. I still don't own a natural nail polish remover, so this post was really helpful :) The wipes sounds really interesting - I'll definitely be checking out a couple of the brands :) x

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    1. Glad it was helpful! It was my first time using wipes too, but they're surprisingly lovely. I'm still not sure if I'd buy the liquid remover or the wipes next time...the convenience of the wipes is nice :)

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  10. Hi Caitlin, I'm new to your website (found it via NMDL) but I am loving it so far! Thanks for reviewing these! I have one question though: which kind of polish did you try them on? Regular "dirty" nail polish, or 3/5-free polishes, and/or water based ones - or all of those? I am just wondering if maybe they are more effective in "greener" polish since it contains less dangerous chemicals. Thank you! :)

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    1. Thanks:) I've used them the most on 3/5-free polishes, which are what I usually wear. I've also tried the Suncoat on water-based polishes and it performed about the same. Hope that helps clear things up!

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