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Natural Nail Polish Remover: The Best Non-Acetone Brands

Updated on November 12, 2014

Non Toxic, Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover: Can It Really Be?

If you’ve ever removed nail polish in your bathroom before, you’ll know the toxic smell that quickly surrounds you as you struggle to scrub the color off your toes. For many people, the odor of polish remover is enough to induce headaches and lightheadedness - and I’m one of them. Although I love to wear polish on my toes, I can’t stand the smell of the remover; and this has led to such creative solutions as sitting on the patio barefoot in minus five degree temperatures, in an effort to prevent myself and my family from suffering the ill effects. Finally, I gave up and decided there must be a better solution - a type of non toxic nail polish remover. So I went looking, and this article is the result. Here I’ll explain the basic details behind what actually produces the awful smell of conventional polish remover, and I’ll share the best brands of natural, non acetone nail polish removers.

What’s Really In Nail Polish Remover & Why We Need A Natural Alternative

There is an increasing awareness today about the potentially dangerous chemicals lurking in cosmetics. Many products harbor harmful toxins that affect our bodies in many ways, and nail polish remover is one of the worst offenders.

The strongest types are made primarily from acetone, and although countless brands also offer non-acetone varieties, these usually aren’t much better. To get the polish off your nails, nail polish remover moisturizes the dried polish and returns it to a liquid state.

Here’s a basic overview of some typical ingredients, as listed on the bottles of one of the mainstream brands:

Regular Nail Polish:

Acetone, Propylene Carbonate, Aqua, Dimethyl Glutarate, Dimethyl Adipate, Dimethyl Succinate, Glycerin, Fragrance, Denatonium Benzoate, Benzophenone-1, Gelatin, FD&C Yellow 11.

Non-Acetone Nail Polish:

Ethyl Acetate, Ethyl Alcohol, Aqua, Glycerin, Sodium Acetate, Fragrance, Denatonium Benzoate, Gelatin, FD&C Red 17, FD&C Yellow 11.

Typical Nail Polish Remover List


So what is wrong with these ingredients? Here’s a brief rundown of the main risks, in plain English:

Acetone: this is a compound found in nature as well as made by man. It is used in polish remover because of its ability to dissolve paint. It also dissolves plastics, glues, and dyes - and is a primary component in paint thinner. It is used to make detergents, particle board, rubber cement, and in the production of many chemical compounds including BPA. Its ability to strip oils makes it a highly effective degreaser.

Acetone is not considered to be highly toxic, but I take this with a grain of salt because most research about it has been done on animals - so we don’t have extensive info on the longterm effects of acetone on humans. We do know that acetone exposure can cause irritation of throat, nose, and lungs; lightheadedness, headaches, and unconsciousness; and even behavioral and hormonal changes.

Of course, these effects have been observed after humans were exposed to high levels of acetone; removing your nail polish is not likely to cause such dramatic effects. But with the potential health hazards, why use it at all? Besides, we do know with certainty that acetone on skin causes irritation and even damages skin cells - and it is an agent that strips oil from your nails, leaving them dry and brittle. There’s enough risk there to convince me to steer clear of it.


Non-acetone nail polish removers will usually use ethyl acetate as the main ingredient. While not as drying as acetone, ethyl acetate still comes with hazards. A highly flammable substance, it is not considered highly toxic - although short-term exposure to high levels causes irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headache, nausea, and vomiting; and sleepiness and unconsciousness. Again, although it isn’t considered drastically toxic, it’s not exactly a health tonic either.

There are many, many other chemicals you will find on the shelf - petroleum products, artificial colors, and countless other chemical compounds that I don’t have the background to explain; while some are considered harmless to humans, many others are known to be irritating to our bodies and have unknown effects.

Non Acetone Nail Polish Remover? Is There A Truly Natural Alternative?

t’s a difficult mission to find a non acetone nail polish remover that is truly ‘all-natural’. Nail polish is a form of hardened paint; to remove it, some type of solvent is needed - a substance that will dissolve the paint so it can be removed. Luckily, not all solvents are created equal, and there are many healthier options on the shelves today; they are called ‘non-toxic’ because the chemicals they use are considered non-harmful.

Be careful reading labels; brands of non toxic nail polish remover that claim to be ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ may still contain acetone, because acetone is technically a compound found in nature and therefore it is organic. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for you in concentrated form!

Let’s take a look at some of the better choices for your nails. All of these products will not only remove your polish, but they will hydrate and condition your nails at the same time - a perfect combination. And best of all, no toxic odors!

The Best Non-Toxic Nail Polish Removers: A ‘Natural’ Choice

5 top brands to protect you, your nails and your planet!

Soy Allergy?

Those with soy allergy should not worry about using soy-based polish removers. The soy used in these products is so highly refined that it does not contain any detectable proteins; so they should not pose an allergic risk.


Karma has managed to produce an incredible non acetone, natural nail polish remover with only three ingredients. Soy-based, non toxic, and smelling delightful, this product gets rave reviews and works like a charm even on the toughest regular nail polishes. It is my favorite!

Karma Organic Spa Demo



Suncoat’s non-acetone ‘Natural Nail Polish Remover’ is 100% corn- and soya- based. With only three ingredients, it is non-toxic, biodegradable, non-flammable, Vegan, and free of parabens and petroleum products. In the world of nail polish removers, this is about as natural as you’ll find.



Manipure’s concentrated formula is also non acetone, soy-based - with the pleasant additions of jasmine, lavender, and lemon. This natural nail polish remover is non-toxic, biodegradable, and gets great reviews.

  • soak nails in warm water for a few minutes to loosen up the polish
  • moisten a cotton pad with polish remover and allow it to sit on the nail for a minute - this allows the product to work on the polish and should make it easy
  • use an orange wood stick to gently remove stubborn bits of polish

Do Natural Removers Require More Effort? Some Helpful Tips:

Although some reviews claim that non-toxic nail polish remover takes more elbow grease than acetone-based products, this is not necessarily true. Here are some tips that will make the process much easier.



Nutranail is known for products that enhance the nails, and their no-odor nail polish remover is no exception. It does have a longer ingredients list, but nothing known to be toxic is included. They offer the classic bottle of liquid solution, but also an innovative brush-on version, which makes easy, short work of removing your polish. Either way, Nutranail is a great choice for healthy, natural nails.



We can’t conclude this list without Priti - a favorite brand among celebrities, Priti offers a non-acetone, soy-based alternative that works like a dream to remove nail polish. WIth only four ingredients, it is a solid choice for natural removing of your polish.

A Nail Poll, Naturally

How long have you been using natural polish removers?

See results

Acetone Free Removers - Naturally Good For You & The Planet

I hope it’s clear that finding a non-toxic, non-acetone, natural nail polish is a lot easier than one might think -- on our bodies and on our planet. With so many consumers starting to ask for better alternatives, hopefully more products like these will join their ranks soon. In the meantime, these brands are working hard to make removing nail polish a much more pleasant experience - and one that won’t give you a headache!

How about you? Are you seeking a less-toxic alternative to acetone-based products? If you have a favorite, I’d love to hear about it - please share how it works out for you.


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