How to Remove Nail Polish Easily




About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

I love painting my nails, but I hate having to remove it later. Especially glitter-based and darker polishes - they're so tough to get off! I always ended up picking at the last bit of polish and damaging my nails, so I knew I needed to try something else.

After a lot of googling, I found a few solid options and tested them out. I found the winning method on gingerbreadmanne and it was so fast and easy to do I just can't get over it. :D

Removing your polish this way takes much less effort and won't damage your nails like scrubbing at them will!

Also: this is incredibly useful if you have psoriasis like I do - my thumb nails have fairly large horizontal ridges that tend to trap polish between them, and this makes removing it much easier!

If this method doesn't work for the polish you're wearing, there's another option. Try scoochmaroo's "how to remove a gel manicure" instructable for more info.

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Step 1: What You'll Need:

  • nail polish remover
  • cotton balls

Aaaaand that's it.

P.S. The nail color I'm wearing is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Go For Gold. It's awesome and you probably need it. :D

Step 2: Unroll the Cotton Ball

Find the end of the roll and pick it apart with your fingers so you have one long strip.

Did you know that cotton balls were just rolled up strips of cotton? I did not.

Learning new things every day on the internets!!

Step 3: Tear Into Small Pieces

Tear the strip into smaller pieces - you can get quite a few out of one ball! You really just want pieces large enough so that you can cover your whole nail.

Step 4: Apply and Let Sit

Pour some nail polish remover into the cap and dip a strip into it. You want the strip saturated but not dripping wet.

Push the wet strip down onto a nail firmly so it will stay in place and repeat for the rest of them.

You'll want to let this sit for a minute or two once you're done.

Step 5: Removal

Once it's been a couple minutes, remove the strips but pushing them off the ends of your nails. Apply pressure at the nail bed and push the cotton toward the tip. The polish should come off pretty easy!

If the cotton sticks, chances are you didn't use enough remover. Dab more polish remover onto the cotton and let it sit a little longer.

As you can see, this method took off almost all of the glitter polish - and I was using two coats! Hooray! It took only another minute or so to remove the rest.

My nails also looked loads better than they do normally - no peeling or places where I scrubbed too hard or picked. :D



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14 Discussions

I sometimes use the aluminum foil method, and I also swear by this nail polish remover It works amazingly well and doesn't smell terrible!

Also, I have some ridges on my nails and have had good experiences with some ridge fillers like this one and my fave, Seche Vite ridge filling base coat I've found it easier to get the nail polish off and you don't end up with stripes of color, at least :)

3 replies

Ohhhhh I didn't know there were fillers!! I'll have to check that nail polish out, too. I would love to use something not super stinky. :D

I actually just bought a nail buffer to get the ridges out last weekend. I had totally forgotten they exsited until I put on nail polish last time and it went so badly. Hooray for buffers!

I think some of the ridge fillers are good for your nails too, and prevent staining if you're using a dark color nail polish.

I love Zoya nail polish remover more than most things in the world, and their nail polish is great too. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit how much of a nail nerd I am, haha.


Don't even think about being a nail nerd! Sometimes I wish I was a girl so I could paint my nails! I love painted nails,very feminine looking and I like that.Take care and good luck!


1 year ago on Step 5

Absolutely awesome. Thank you for this tip because it is now the way I remove polish. I can remove crazy polish design with literally 2 cotton balls and 1 cotton pad


4 years ago on Introduction

I use pure acetone nail polish remover (found at the drug store). It works so much better than regular nail polish remover!

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

I distill my own whisky and give my wife the first 100 ml of a run to use as polish remover. It is 90 % alcohol


3 years ago

can't wait to try this method, thanks


4 years ago

i did know that cotton balls are just rolled up pieces of cotton cuz i use them alot


4 years ago on Introduction

Even quicker, grab a set of pliers and riiiiiiip! Ouch!

Cool 'ible though, you have done a great job of explaining it!

1 reply

4 years ago

If you've got several coats of glitter polish on, tightly wrapping each fingertip in aluminum foil & letting it sit at least 5 minutes works very well. The cotton has to be absolutely saturated & remain wet, which is why I use thicker cotton pads. This is something I find myself doing on a regular basis :-)

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I've heard so much about that but I had no luck with that technique! It was probably user error though - I couldn't get the aluminum foil tight enough on my own. I was trying to do both hands at once and it just went crazy bad, foil falling off, cotton and nail polish remover everywhere!

Probably should just be patient next time. :P