ASK ANA: Is Acetone a Safe Nail Polish Remover?


Have you been told non-acetone is less harmful than acetone? It’s not true.

Does all nail polish remover have acetoneIn this article, you’ll learn:

  • The true safety information about acetone
  • The safest and fastest way to remove polish
  • How to work with acetone to reduce its drying effects

MYTH: Non-Acetone Products Are Safer

The debate about polish removers is almost as heated as the debate about coffee’s health benefits. And I’m about to settle it for you.

Why Is Acetone the Better Choice?

Acetone evaporates quickly, thus the vapors do not exceed safe levels in salons or the home.

Scientists say that acetone has good ‘warning properties’ that limit overexposure. If there is ever too much in the air you will be aware of it and do something about it. Your body has it’s own alarm system and lets you know when any substance is dangerous.

Acetone is NOT suspected to cause cancer by any credible government or scientific agency.

Acetone cannot pass into the dermis or basal level of the skin and none will pass through the nail plate. So clearly, it is NOT absorbed into the bloodstream.

According to scientific information, Acetone is slightly safer than the primary ingredients in non-acetone remover, ethyl acetate & methyl ethyl ketone. Surprised?

Acetone and the ingredients in non-acetone remover are all safe solvents when used sparingly. 

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And lastly, acetone dissolves polish faster than non-acetone removers.

What Is A Solvent?

Water is the safest solvent in the nail industry.

In fact, water is called the universal solvent because it dissolves more things than any other known substance. But if water dissolved nail polish, the nail industry would be dead.

The second safest solvent used in salons is acetone. That’s why it is sold for this purpose.

It is true that there are many faster-acting solvents, but they are not safe enough for use in the salon or the home.

But It Dries My Skin

Yes! That’s ok though!


Because if removers can dissolve polish, they also dissolve oil…your skin’s natural oils.

Let’s Look Closer

Your nails dry out because of evaporation. Oils and moisture travel from your nail bed, through your nail and evaporate into the air. Yes… the oil evaporates too.

Then you put polish remover on your nails, it evaporates almost instantaneously, much faster than water and takes your dissolved natural oils with it. Poof!

Removers can’t go into your nails or skin….they’re too busy evaporating. This is how they dry your skin.

What Should I Do?

Since acetone dissolves polish faster, it’s actually less drying than non-acetone! You’ll be scrubbing a lot longer with non-acetone removers.

When used only once a week, the drying effect is temporary and quickly corrects itself.

Rub some olive oil on your skin around your nails before removing your polish. The acetone will take that oil instead.

Another option I prefer is to add a moisturizing acetone additive containing wonderful oils to reduce the drying effects of acetone. I use Bliss Kiss™ Simply Soft™

Rinse your hands after removing your polish. But wait an hour before polishing your nails again, so the water has time to evaporate from your nails.

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Re-moisturize your skin and nails with a quality nail and cuticle oil after your manicure and then twice daily. I like to do a mini-intensive hydration treatment with Simply Pure™ hydrating oil.

Still Faster?

There is one more way to help acetone work even faster at dissolving polish.

Warm it!

Just don’t use the stove or the microwave. You will blow your house up! Acetone and non-acetone solvents are flammable.

In Doug Schoon’s book, Nail Structure and Product chemistry, he mentions that warm acetone can help shorten the dissolving time 30% to 50%!

I use Soak & Swipe™ manicure clips to help my body warm the acetone as it dissolves the polish on my nails.

Recommended Products

Simply Soft™ acetone additive

Simply Pure™ hydrating oil

Soak & Swipe™ manicure clips


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About the Author: Tung Chi