Here’s How To Take Off Your Nail Polish Without Using Nail Polish Remover

Let’s paint the picture: you have an unexpected dinner in an hour, but you just got home from work and realized your nail polish is chipped. You think “no problem,” reaching for your nail polish remover and cotton balls, only to remember your nail polish remover ran out 2 weeks ago. You’re in a bind, but there’s no way you want to go to the dinner with mega-chipped nails – so what to do? Believe it or not, you don’t necessarily need nail polish remover to get your nails back to their clean, natural state. In fact, you can use things you already have around the house – and yes, prepare to be shocked!

According to Brittney Boyce of NAILSOFLA, getting your nails polish-free just takes a bit of traditional rubbing alcohol and some patience (via Pure Wow). Any alcohol-based product will do, but rubbing alcohol is known to work the quickest. Boyce explains, “Apply some rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball or pad and place it on your nail. Let it sit for about 10 seconds and gently rub it back and forth. Your nail polish should come off fairly quickly.” And that’s it! 

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol lying around, alcohol wipes from your medicine cabinet could also work, or even hand sanitizer. As Pure Wow suggests, just apply some sanitizer to a cotton ball and rub it on your nail until it’s polish-free. Pro tip: apply cuticle oil afterwards to keep everything moisturized after contact with drying alcohol.

More ways to remove your polish

Other methods to remove nail polish without using traditional remover are just as surprising. Pure Wow cites toothpaste as an incredible alternative to acetone, but only if the toothpaste contains ethyl acetate. If yours does, Lifehacks recommends soaking nails in warm water beforehand for the best results. Then, squeeze toothpaste onto each nail and brush with an old toothbrush or Q-tip. Go back and forth until your nails are 100% polish free.

A more expensive but equally-effective option is removing nail polish with perfume, but only do so if you have no other option. Perfumes work for this because of their alcohol base, but since the alcohol percentage is lower, you will likely need a lot. If you want to go for it, saturate a cotton round and get scrubbing! Lifehacks also suggests using alcohol-based hairspray, or even a lemon juice and vinegar mixture, which works as an alcohol-free natural solvent.

If you don’t want to use any kind of extra substance, you can also remove nail polish with more nail polish. Yes, you read that right – simply paint a thick coat on top of your chipped polish, then rub off with a paper towel (via Pure Wow). And if you want a totally natural solution, Lifehacks recommends soaking chipped nails in warm water for around 20 minutes, scrubbing off the polish with a cloth. Whatever method you choose, it’s great to keep this list in mind for when you’re truly in a pinch!

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