My experience with acrylics was admittedly short lived but so, so gratifying. I go in with short, stubby nails and leave with elegant finger extensions. I often wore them without nail polish because they were just that good. Then, I got them off, and I now know why some people never get acrylics.
“20 minutes, you dip, I sit!” my manicurist told me on a slow Sunday. So I obliged, and dipped my hands into 100-percent pure acetone for the prescribed time. After the 20 minutes, she took a coarse-grit nail file and began sanding down the plastic. “Again!” Yea sure, do whatever you want to me, just get it off. Another 20 minutes, then another. I can’t back out now, I thought as she lifted my hands from the dainty glass bowl, my nails looking like melted candlewax dropped on a surface then swirled around and rasped off. It took two hours of dipping and filing to get most of the acrylic off—and to this day, I’m still convinced there’s a tiny little bit of plastic film that will just need to grow out. (The other solution: Get new acrylics!)
Since that mildly traumatizing experience, I don’t even touch acetone anymore, but it’s not like non-acetone nail polish remover is that much better. Both are scent-offensive and leave my cuticles dry, prompting me to moisturize with balm or cuticle oil afterward. But since most of the beauty world revolves around ways to make your life easier and cut steps out of your routine, I’m here to contribute to that conversation with my favorite new alternative to acetone and non-acetone chemical polish removers.
A Beautiful Life’s Soy Polish Remover. Not only is it 3-free (that’s toluene, DBP, and formaldehyde, remember?), it’s soy-based and includes a “blend” of essential oils. To me, that just means a combo nail polish remover and cuticle oil in one. It also smells like zesty orange rind. Most importantly, it actually works at removing nail polish. Just soak a cotton pad in the remover and rub it against your nail. It may take a little elbow grease to break up the initial layer of polish, but after that, it’s smooth, slippery, cuticle-saving sailing.
Photographed by Tom Newton. Live long and polish—read about the base coat you need to get a week-long manicure without chipping.