Friday, October 22, 2010

How-To: Remove (Glitter) Nail Polish

I change my polish so often that I've gotten kind of good at it, but there have been some mishaps along the way.  Here's to you not making the same mistakes!

So here's the theory.  Nail polish lasts longer when you apply it to a smooth, non-greasy surface (which is why before you apply polish it's best to swipe your nail with vinegar/remover) and let it dry completely.  When you take it off what you're doing is reintroducing a solvent that returns it to its liquid state by breaking up the polymer chains.


Things you will need:
  • Base Coat
  • Cuticle butter or some other thick, greasy lotion
  • Cotton pads
  • Nail Polish Remover (I use non-acetone.  It just sounds better.)
  • Foil, occasionally
Easy removal starts with proper application.  Always use a basecoat; it protects your nails and the polish will come off more easily.

To prepare, slather the skin around your nails (it's okay if you get your nail too) with your cuticle butter.  It'll protect your skin from drying out and after you're done your fingertips will be all moisturized!

Start by soaking a cotton pad in nail polish remover.  Most people don't discriminate when they choose a material with which to remove nail polish - it makes a difference.  Stay away from facial tissues, or as I've seen some people do, toilet paper.  You need something that a) will not dissolve in liquid as toilet paper is designed to do (I still shake my head at this) and b) has enough texture to pull off the polish.  Some people like to use felt - it's not always necessary, but it's nice for hard-to-remove glitter polishes (keep reading for a felt-less alternative). 


The trick is to get enough remover on the pad - if you saturate the pad enough, you shouldn't need more than one or two.  The amount will vary with the strength of the remover; I'm currently using SuperNail, an industry brand, so I'm just wetting the pad enough so that I can feel moisture on the otherside.  For a brand like Cutex I've needed to pratically bathe my cotton rounds before it becomes even remotely effective.

This is the part where damage takes place.  Lots of people start rubbing at the nail polish until it's gone - bad idea.  It's completely ineffective; it takes so much longer and you end up scratching the top layer of your nails with the effort.  What you should do is lay the cotton on the nail, press it down for a few seconds, then slide the polish off.  No worries if it doesn't all come off at once, just repeat as needed.
We can take this a step further, too.  I occasionally wear extremely glitter-heavy polishes, which are potentially your nails' worst nightmare.  DO NOT GIVE IN TO RUBBING!  BAAAAAD.

So here's how we do:


I know it looks crazy, but I swear it works.  Just don't plan to do anything requires any sort of dexterity for about ten minutes.

So you go through your basic routine, as described above (the lotion is particularly important in this case), only this time, you're going to need ten pieces of cotton.  I generally use five and cut them in half, but if your nails are extremely long, you might need a whole one.  Soak each pad in remover and wrap it around the tip of your finger, and then wrap about 2 inches of foil around it, just enough to make sure the cotton is sealed to your fingers.  Wait ten minutes, slide the foil and cotton off, et voilĂ !

The reason this works is that the alcohol in the cotton evaporates more slowly and t has more time to work (hence the aforementioned soak-and-slide move).  The trick is to make sure you've wrapped the foil very carefully; it doesn't need to look pretty, but it does need to be done properly.

Happy glitter polishing!

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