DIY: Nail Polish Removal

Ok, so I realize these seems like kind of an odd post to do. But I so often get questions about nail care and what polish remover I use and how I keep my cuticles looking good, etc and nail polish removal fits right into that.

I used to be a dump some polish remover on a cotton ball and rub my nails until the polish came off girl. I also used to be a slave to 100% acetone polish remover when I wore hard to remove nail polish. But no more! I’ve finally found the perfect nail polish removal method. And it requires just one cotton ball (no matter what nail polish I’mย wearing).

For a step by step guide to what I think is the best, never fail way to remove any nail polish, check below the jump!


The only thing you need for this method is nail polish remover (with a twist off cap) and one cotton ball.

How to:

  1. Unroll the cotton ball and pull off 10 small pieces (about the size of a stamp).
  2. Fill the nail polish remover cap with remover.
  3. Dip the bottom of one small piece of cotton into the remover until it soaks the cotton about half way up.
  4. Place the cotton on the nail with the saturated part at the cuticle. Press down on the cotton making sure the entire nail is covered. Repeat on the rest of the nails.
  5. Wait! How long you need to wait depends on the polish. A creme polish only needs a minute or two, a glitter polish needs 5 minutes or so.
  6. To remove the cotton start at the cuticle and apply even pressure and move up. ย This should remove, if not all, the vast majority of polish that was on the nail.
  7. If there is any polish left on the nail, fold the piece of cotton over and remove the remaining polish.

And that’s it! This works so well because the nail polish soaks up the acetone and the polish slides right off! I’ve used this method for every type of nail polish under the sun (creme, shimmer, glitter, magnetic, even those nail polish strips…) and it works perfectly. Plus my cuticles love me because I don’t use 100% acetone anymore. Ever!

Another bonus using this method is it has cut down dramatically on the number of cotton balls and amount of nail polish remover I use. I’m always happy to save some money!

Anyway, I hope this was helpful! If you have any nail polish removal tips make sure to leave them in a comment below ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. I do leave my remover on sort of like this. I only use cotton squares for non glitter or non super thick polishes – If I have glitter on or a really thick build up of hard to remove polishes, I use a piece of felt that I buy at the local craft store or if I am out of town I try to get to a Wallmart and buy it on the bolt if they have it. I discovered using felt really helped. It’s something I found when I was gone from home and needed to remove my polish but did not want to buy a bottle of remover so I bought just 2 packs of remover pads pre-soaked at a Rite Aide. My polish came off so easy with those and made me think why? It was the kind of fabric those pads are and cheap craft felt is how I re-created that type of thing. The pre-soaked packaged pads are great for travel by the way! I really swear by removers that have some kind of oil in them. I like OPI for Sephora a lot but it’s $$$. I am going to try my cheap polish remover and add some Vit E oil to it to see if that works when I am out of my good remover. I also like the remover Zoya sells a lot I think it’s called Remove + – but since I have to order it via mail that’s kind of too pricey for me.

  2. Does it take off the patterns from nail polish strips too? The color always comes off easy enough, but the black stripes or skulls or whatever get left behind until I essentially scrape them off. I’ll try this next time.

  3. I just finished a fresh Thanksgiving mani and used this method to remove my old polish. It worked fabulously!!! Thanks, Alli!

  4. I just tried your method for the second time, and you have indeed changed my life! Thanks so much for posting this ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Just tried this. o.m.g. does it work! I had glitter polish on and I usually leave it on for weeks before it will willingly come off, but it came off when I used this method! No more using 50 billion cotton balls a week!

  6. I am definitely going to try this method out next time, too! I’ve tried to cut down my cotton ball use to two or three per manicure… but one cotton ball?! That sounds way better, haha. Thanks for sharing this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I used to go through SO MANY cotton balls taking off my nail polish. It was ridiculous!

      Hope this method works for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Usually not painting on a base coat before applying your polish is the cause of nails yellowing. It’s an extra step and cost, but base coats & top coats are well worth your investment of time and money.

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