If you’re looking for the best non-toxic nail polish removers that work AND have benefits, I got you covered! I tested out all the bestsellers in clean beauty that are safer and healthier and am sharing my in-depth reviews of each one.
Did you know more damage can be done to your nails through using remover than actual nail polish itself? Nail polish remover is basically modified paint stripper and causes dehydrated, brittle nails. Plus, some people have more porous nails that are more prone to yellowing and those with already damaged nails are susceptible to even more damage.
There’s a few popular DIY options to remove nail polish at home like vinegar mixed with lemon juice or just using rubbing alcohol, but they’re not going to be as effective as store-bought products. My favorite non-toxic nail polish remover brands actually work and don’t dry out nails!
Can Nail Polish Remover actually be Non-Toxic?
There are many safer and low-tox nail polish removers today, but they can never be truly non-toxic. This is because nail polish remover requires solvents if you want to efficiently remove them.
Even when there’s acetone-free written on the label there is still acetone present, just in a less concentrated form that’s been diluted with moisture additives.
Less toxic nail polish removers are sometimes composed of alternative ingredients like ethyl acetate, which is a common non-acetone solvent, but it can still cause eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation. So nail polish remover CAN be healthier but it can’t be 100% natural.
What to look for when choosing remover
There are several common ingredients used in nail polish remover that you want to avoid. The most common are Isopropyl acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and n-methyl-pyrrolidone, but you also want to avoid artificial fragrance, toluene, formaldehyde and benzophenone.
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK): Methyl ethyl ketone is a neurotoxin and may lead to headaches and respiratory tract irritation. It can also be written as 2-butanone, 3-butanone, acetone
- N-Methyl-Pyrrolidone (NMP): N-Methyl-Pyrrolidone is a reproductive toxin and has been linked to acute contact dermatitis. It can also be written as n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone and 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone.
- Isopropyl Acetone: Isopropyl Acetone can damaging to the nails, cuticles, and surrounding skin. It also goes by Methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), hexone and 2-pentanone.
- Toluene: This solvent can cause skin irritation, dryness, and redness. Inhalation or ingestion of toluene can lead to nausea, dizziness, and even central nervous system damage.
- Formaldehyde: This is a known carcinogen commonly used in nail hardeners and can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and asthma attacks.
- Artificial fragrance and colors: These mimic estrogen which can disrupt our hormone systems through endocrine disruption.
- Benzophenone: This protects nail polish from UV light and is linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity.
Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover $9
Mineral Fusion is one of the best top nail polish removers that’s affordable, acetone-free and works just like traditional nail polish remover. It requires the least amount of effort compared to other low-tox nail polish removers and can take off three coats of polish in a single swipe.
They use a less toxic solvent (ethyl acetate) that can even take on dark shades of nail polish and is Carbon Free Certified, paraben free and cruelty free. But if you’re sensitive, I would opt for one of the other brands I reviewed below.
This has an alcoholic scent but if you’re not sensitive to smells, Mineral Fusion’s nail polish remover provides the most value for money at 6 fl oz while most other removers are 4 fl oz. The bottle lasts FOREVER.
Karma Naturals Nail Polish Remover $12
Karma Organic Soy Lavender Nail Polish Remover is soy-based, vegan and cruelty-free and works almost as good as traditional nail polish remover with just a tiny bit more effort required.
It will take off one coat without any effort, but I found that three coats will require some more rubbing. Instead of harsh solvents it uses a remover made of a propylene carbonate solvent that’s rated a 1 by EWG.
There’s also nourishing ingredients like soybean oil, vitamin E, and lavender essential oil that leave my nail beds and cuticles moisturized without an overly greasy feeling. The tea tree scent is so therapeutic and natural smelling and they have a variety of scent options to choose from like lavender and rose. Their packaging is also super eco-friendly with recyclable glass bottles, metal tops and soy-based ink labels.
Ella+Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover Wipes $9.99
Ella+Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover Wipes allow me to remove my nail polish in a single step and they’re so convenient for travel. These are a gentler, less-toxic nail polish remover option that’s free of acetone, alcohol and acetates. They’re also vegan, cruelty-free and PETA certified.
The wipes are large and I never end up using the entire wipe even when using it for both hands. To avoid being wasteful I’d recommend using them when you need to remove polish on both hands and feet. They’re not exactly dripping with product so I find that I do need to put some effort into rubbing. I also find that they have a calming fruity scent even though they’re technically unscented.
Ella+Mila Soy Nail Polish Remover $11.50
Ella + Mila’s soy nail polish remover also comes in its original bottle packaging and costs just under $12. It has the same gentle yet effective formula that’s free of acetone and acetates and comes in lavender scent, unscented and jojoba-based. I tested the lavender scent and find it to be lovely and soothing.
There’s a lot of nourishing oils in the formula because my nails feel super moisturized and slightly oily after. I find the liquid version to be a little more effective than their wipes with less rubbing required.
Huella Better Off Nail Lacquer Remover $16
Huella’s plant-based nail polish remover is acetone free and alcohol free and has a unique mess-free cap applicator that eliminates the need for cotton pads and wipes. Instead of having to use cotton balls or wipes, I simply use the foam attached to the bottom of the cap to wipe away nail polish.
It comes out drenched in remover so I recommend setting a paper towel down first because the liquid mixed with removed nail polish can drip everywhere.
This non-toxic nail polish remover requires some more patience than the other removers because you need to swipe quite a bit to fully remove polish. I do love the soothing natural lavender scent and find the formula to be super moisturizing thanks to the jojoba and lavender oils. Over time the label can get a bit ugly and messy from the residual nail polish.
Andrea is a clean beauty expert from Los Angeles, California with 10 years of experience in clean beauty, natural skincare and organic living. She writes for Organic Beauty Lover using her expertise to guide readers in choosing the best clean beauty products. Andrea graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 and has worked at multiple skincare companies, big and small. Connect with her @organicbeautylover.