What’s the safest way to remove my polish?
How Safe Is Acetone?
I’ve been told non-acetone is less harmful. Is that true?
- MYTH: Non-Acetone Products Are Safer
- Why Is Acetone the Better Choice?
- What Is A Solvent?
- But It Dries My Skin
- Let’s Look Closer
- What Should I Do?
- What Do You Think?
- What’s the difference between acetone and non-acetone nail polish remover?
- Styrofoam cups melting in acetone may put you off nail polish remover
- Watch Nail Polish Remover Acetone Totally Melt a Styrofoam Cup Into a Sticky Glob
MYTH: Non-Acetone Products Are Safer
The debate about polish removers is almost as heated as the debate about coffee’s health benefits. And we’re 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 over exposure. 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 can not 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 blood stream.
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.
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 much faster acting solvents, but they are not safe enough for use in the salon or the home.
But It Dries My Skin
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.
Use an acetone formula containing olive oil and vitamin E or make your own recipe (see below).
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.
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.
Re-moisturize your skin and nails with a quality nail and cuticle oil after your manicure and then twice daily.
Pure Nail and Cuticle Oil
DIY Acetone Remover with Emollients Recipe
- Ten Parts Acetone
- One Part Water
- 2 to 10 drops of Olive Oil (counteracts dryness)
- 2 to 5 drops of Vitamin E (fights free radical toxins)
What Do You Think?
What’s the difference between acetone and non-acetone nail polish remover?
Have you ever stood in the drugstore with chipped nails and stared blankly at all your options for nail polish remover? You’re not alone.
The main decision you have to make is whether you want acetone or non-acetone nail polish remover. Here’s the simple secret: While acetone will work faster at getting the polish off of your nails, non-acetone removers will be gentler to them.
So what’s in these removers, anyway? Acetone is a clear, harsh-smelling and highly flammable liquid. It’s a solvent, capable of disintegrating even plastic. This explains why it works so quickly breaking apart and removing your nail polish. Isopropyl alcohol is typically used in the making of acetone.
The key active ingredient in non-acetone removers is usually ethyl acetate. Made from ethanol and acetic acid, ethyl acetate is colorless and also flammable. In addition to also being used as a solvent, its fragrant smell has led to its use in perfumes.
Most of your nail polish removers are going to include solvents as ingredients. If you can remember your lesson about polymers from high school chemistry class, think of it like this: Your nail polish remover is an organic liquid solvent. Nail polish is a hardened organic polymer. When the remover is applied to the polish, the molecules of the solvent will force their way through the polymer molecules, causing the polish to disintegrate.
Because of acetone’s strength as a solvent, it shouldn’t be used on your fake nails. The solvent in the polish remover will weaken your extensions and cause them to separate from your natural nail. One of the reasons non-acetone nail polish removers were created was to be used on nail extensions.
But for removing sparkly, glitter nail polish, it’s best to go with the big guns — acetone polish remover. The chemicals in glitter nail polish make it more difficult than other polishes to break down.
If you have strong health concerns about the chemicals used in both acetone and non-acetone polish removers, you should consider switching to a nail polish remover that doesn’t use toxic ingredients. There are also many polish removers on the market today that boast of being fully “natural” and biodegradable.
Need more on nail care? Head on over to the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
This is only a simple starting point guide, most of the molds i made were mostly just proof of concept, I was preparing for the 7th Annual Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire, where i showed off my Styrofoam re-creations and a bunch of my experiments that lead me up to this point, (in the process i tried a lot of other solvents, xylene, toluene, acetone, gasoline, naphtha, lacquer thinner, M.E.K.) lots of them melt it, but all are less pleasant to work with than D-limonene and in some cases such as acetone, my end results were super bubbly, Note: although its possible to get PS to fall out of acetone solution by adding water. (which may be useful for some resuses)
below are some of my more random notes and links i found during my research.
Why so many organic solvents are bad for you..
Acetone: Works great, turns it into a slurry of dissolved polystyrene that will eventually evaporate thicken and then finally harden, most of the gas is lost, but the acetone gets trapped eventually and blows bubbles into the slowly solidifying stuff, making it bubbly and less than ideal to cast with. Interesting note, water makes the eps crash out of the acetone, but make a odd milky slushy eggdrop soup like stuff. I’ve not really worked with water crashed out eps much yet, did it two times and all, may try baking it after drying it to see if it will melt back into a puck.
Xyline: also dissolves the product fast, but takes a good long time to dry, and is stinky and bad for many reasons.
M.E.K.: (methyl ethyl ketone) also dissolves the product fast, ends up with a fairly bubble free end result, but is also stinky, and bad for many reasons.
Lacquer thinner: slow, does soften it and degasify it, but not fully dissolve it, and is stinky and bad for many reasons. End result foams and puffs up as it dries. And dries white, one neat thing is its totally not sticky. And i don’t think much of any is being pulled along in the solvent, making it possibly the most solvent friendly. Might be good for just strictly commercial use, this may also vary by formulation
D-limonene: works great on plain white ps, will dissolve quite a lot per oz, nice smell, not known to be toxic, leaves the ps very clear (sometimes a slight yellowing) virtually no bubbles, long glass transition. (verrrrry long transition, can take months to feel like thick rubber. And stay that way at elevated heat (80F and plenty of circulation for months.) when solid, re melts at about 104C/220F(seriously this is like easy bake kids oven temperatures! and flows nicely. Casts with relatively few bubbles*http://katu.com/news/local/tigard-company-plans-to-recycle-tons-of-hard-to-recycle-styrofoam-plastics. Cons, very long dry time. And relatively expensive Pros, not known to be toxic, nice smell, good clean results, not much shrinkage, re-meltable and flows well, stays glassy
Toluline: works much like limonene stinkier but faster has many more health risks. and bad for many reasons.
Gasoline: works but dirty, very yellow stinky foamy result in the end… and is stinky and bad for many reasons.
White gas/ Naphthalene: works to degas and shrink it to some degree but does not soften or melt the EPS.
But 25% d’limonene to 75% M.E.K has a theoretical RA of 3.7
Or 21% Xyline to 79% acetone gets us down to ra of 3.2 which is the best i’ve pulled from the above table. Sofar. Other experiment notes and links:
Tried this mix, using a 50ml test tube filled it with 43ml acetone and about 7ml limonene, and absorbed EPS until it stopped accepting more. Let it tsit 30 min, and then mixed in 45ml of distilled water and mixed. Milky thick eps crashed out of the slurry and the acetone was absorbed into the water. kicking out about 55ml of liquid although im estimating since i spilled some, wound up with a slightly milky 50 ml of liquid, im letting see if any settles, ideally in the future id love to try and absorb the water out, (perhaps with water beads? Can’t recall if they dissolve in acetone/limonene,) or distil off and recover the acetone, and see if we can do it again. I have also not investigated only using acetone vapors, perhaps a bucket with a pie tin in it with acetone under it, and ps, and a lid. Or eventually a condensing chamber i can pipe in ther hot distilled acetone? The end result was a sticky ball of wet ps. It’s self sticky and very thick, but it is handleable, (standard disclaimers for solvents on skin, gloves are not a great solution, because the stuff sticks more to them than skin) and shapes like putty, i kneaded it a bit to get out the water/acetone, and proceeded to leave one blob to dry, and one blob mushed into a small mold and i will see how it dries. Im suspecting this version will still contain a fair amount of solvent, and may still take some time to dry End result was fairly white and milky with teeny bubbles, workable. Should be able to distil out the acetone from the water for reuse.
Limonene sadly is not water absorbable so not sure how mixes of acetone/limonene will work, and results of drying lomonine under water have lead to very milky results and super slow drying time.
Polysevert uses Cymene to do what im doing with limonene info on the solvent here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-Cymene
more on Cymene (thyme/Lavender terpene)
We examined the dissolution of polystyrene into p-cymene and related substances to develop an alternative method for the recycling of expanded polystyrene. The dissolving power of p-cymene to polystyrene at 50°C compared favorably with those of 2-p-cymenol , (R)-limonene and its structural isomers , and Abies leaf oil . The favorable solubility of polystyrene into p-cymene can be explained by the solubility parameter. p-Cymene and polystyrene can be recovered almost quantitatively from the polystyrene solution by simple steam distillation.
Carrier, a term for something like a solvent, may be what im needing for the end reprocessing, folks are suggesting toluline, but, in the process im hearing about making conductive ps mixes, using toluene as the carrier,
My ebay source for 99% pure clear d-limonene https://www.ebay.com/itm/D-Limonene-100-FOOD-GRAD…
My Youtube Growing playlist of plastic recycling links mostly EPS but some PET, some PP and others…https://youtu.be/CoNd-QbVlqw
For more information or questions email
[email protected] dot net Or tweet @killbox
When I taught fifth grade my absolute favorite unit to teach was physical and chemical changes! While chemistry was never natural to get students to understand well, I loved the reactions students had when we had… well, reactions in the classroom.
When I taught physical and chemical changes, we always taught students to look for certain signs that would indicate if it was a physical change or a chemical change. For instance, a physical change could be reversible and did not create a new substance. If I took an ice cube and melted it, I could reverse the process and turn my water back into ice. Even further, no matter what state the water was in, it was always just water – Good Ole’ H2O!
With chemical changes though, it always produced a new substance. Students would watch for key signs like bubbles (or gas being released), or an increase in temperature (See the chart below for more signs. You can find these charts and experiments in my Physical and Chemical Changes Unit on TpT or here in my personal store).
One experiment that appears to be a chemical change but is, in fact, a physical change is dissolving a Styrofoam cup! (Anyone else remember all that from the ’90s with McDonald’s removing all their Styrofoam containers?). I dissolve it with chemicals; safe chemicals! (It is not harmful to touch. At most, it will dry the hands out. However, be aware of the strong smell.)
To start, I break my students up into groups and provide each group with an aluminum pan and a plastic cup with a small amount of acetone in it. Acetone is the same thing that we use on our nails to remove nail polish. However, I like to use the straight product, so I go over to the paint section (or in some stores the hardware section) and grab it there. Then, give each group one Styrofoam cup.
Together we review all the signs to look for with physical and chemical changes. Then, I ask the students to predict what they think will occur when they pour this liquid on the Styrofoam cup. After discussing it together, I have the students pour it on to the cup. The reaction is somewhat fast, so they have to be ready!
As you pour the acetone on to the cup, you see it start to bubble and dissolve very quickly. While it appears to be a chemical change because it produces bubbles, it’s actually the trapped air being released out of the Styrofoam. Theoretically, if you were to blow air back into the cup, it could be reversible. I do allow my students to touch it. They squeeze the acetone out of the Styrofoam, and then I let them mold it into whatever shape they desire. Over time the rest of the acetone evaporates out of it, and it becomes a bit more firm and solid. The kids always enjoy this activity and always want to do it over and over!
This is not the only activity that we explore when talking about physical and chemical changes. We have also explored whether changes in states and mixtures and solutions are physical or chemical changes. You can also discuss physical and chemical weathering.
I hope this lesson not only excites you but also “changes” your thoughts about physical science! Save time and get your Physical and Chemical Changes Unit today!
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What?! Did that really just happen? It’s too crazy. We were almost tempted to try this ourselves because can the meltdown really be this dramatic? Ultimately we decided it was safer and a whole lot less messy to simply ask a trusted cosmetic chemist. “We used to do that in the lab for fun—it really does do that!” confirms cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer. But…how? “So, Styrofoam is made up of a foamed-up plastic polymer. There’s a lot of trapped air in the foam, which is why the cups are so lightweight, and why they make great insulators that keep our drinks hot or cold. Acetone is a great solvent for this particular plastic, so when the cup is placed in acetone—or when you put a few drops of acetone in the cup—the small amount of plastic present in the cup dissolves and the cup rapidly disintegrates.”
The big question in our minds is, obviously: What does this mean for our nails? Can it really be OK to put this stuff on there, even in limited quantities? “Fortunately, nails are not made of this plastic, so acetone continues to be safe for use as a nail polish remover,” Hammer assures us. OK, but we’re feeling even more motivated than usual to choose the non-acetone variety for our lighter polish-removal jobs. We like Lauren B Nail Polish Remover Pads ($15, laurenbbeauty.com).
Watch How to Get the Hottest Nail Trend of 2016:
Styrofoam cups melting in acetone may put you off nail polish remover
LET’S MELT THIS/YOUTUBE That cup initially said “Let’s melt this,” and they sure did.
Most nail polish removers are made with acetone, and the powerful smell alone will tip you off that it’s pretty strong stuff.
This video, though, really nails the point home.
YouTube channel Let’s Melt This (we’re thinking we can guess their regular content) posted a 1.26 video of four styrofoam cups dissolving in acetone.
With only a small push to keep the cups submerged, they completely disintegrate, leaving a white foam on the surface of the bowl.
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It’s pretty intense, and odd to think about rubbing that same substance onto your fingertips, but of course nail polish remover isn’t pure acetone.
Also, your fingers aren’t made of stryofoam.
If you’re concerned, though, there are non-acetone removers available, and there’s always the option of going polish-free.
We think we’ll keep taking the risk.
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Watch Nail Polish Remover Acetone Totally Melt a Styrofoam Cup Into a Sticky Glob
The scary powers of acetone, commonly found in nail polish remover, were put on full display with a YouTube video that went up on March 23 by the channel Let’s Melt This. In the video, a plate filled with acetone quickly dissolves a styrofoam coffee cup into a glob of goo.
Styrofoam is made up of airy polystyrene foam, which was once banned in New York for being environmentally dangerous. Polystyrene, which may also be found in plastic yogurt cups and razors, is dissolvable in most organic solvents.
Acetone is a solvent naturally found in volcanic gases and some plants, but it’s also easily found in nail polish and other household cleaning products, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Read more: Here’s What Happens When a Piece of Paper Is Folded Seven Times Under a Hydraulic Press LET’S MELT THIS/YouTube
Nail polish often contains acetone as the most effective way to break down nail polish, according to Self. But it’s harsh on humans, drying out skin and causing dizziness if too much is breathed in.