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Get Clean, Healthy Nails With These Vegan Nail Polish Removers

by Charlotte Pointing

Oct 10, 2022

If you love playing around with colorful varnishes and nail art, a decent remover is essential for keeping your nails clean and healthy between shade changes. While some nail polish removers contain hidden animal ingredients, there are plenty of vegan options on the market too. We've gathered our top picks so that you can enjoy changing up your look all year round, without harming any animals in the process.

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Key nail polish ingredients

The key ingredient in nail polish remover is often acetone, a liquid solvent that has the ability to break down substances. For that reason, it's also used in products like paint removers or degreasers.

However, while the solvent is powerful at getting the job done (i.e., removing varnish from your nails), it's not always the best for nail health.

Because acetone is dehydrating, it can leave nails feeling dry and brittle.

Dermatologist Dana Stern told Huffington Post: "Many people don’t realize that the damage that we do to our nails is not from the polish but rather the remover."

While many professionals still use acetone on gel polish or acrylics, at home, it's easy to find acetone-free options.

Some nail polish removers use acetate, which is gentler on the skin, or they are soy-based. The latter is ideal for moisturizing and conditioning your nails.

That said, because it offers one of the fastest ways to remove stubborn polish from nails, some vegan brands still use acetone. If you choose acetone nail polish remover, try to limit your usage to once per month and follow it up with a good moisturizer.

Non-vegan ingredients in nail polish

As well as solvents, nail polish removers can also include animal ingredients.

Lanolin, for example, is often added to try and reduce the amount of moisture lost by using acetone.

A popular emollient in the cosmetics industry, lanolin comes from sheep. The waxy substance, secreted by the animals' sebaceous glands, helps to keep their wool fluffy and dry.

But while it may be moisturizing for humans, lanolin is a byproduct of a cruel industry.

According to PETA, multiple investigations have shown workers abusing sheep throughout the wool shearing process, sometimes by handling them roughly, beating them, or denying them food.

The industry also has an environmental cost: animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Another animal ingredient often used in nail polish is collagen, which usually comes from bovine sources, although it can also come from fish. It is extracted from bones, hooves, and hides, and is used in nail polish remover for its nail-strengthening properties.

Vegan nail polish remover

However, neither collagen nor lanolin are needed in nail polish remover.

In fact, a number of brands sell vegan versions of the product. We've rounded up our top picks here. Plus, not only are they animal-free, but they're also cruelty-free. Animal testing has no place in the beauty industry.

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?Not specified
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?No

Ella + Mila is known for its eco-friendly nail polishes, all of which are free from 17 chemicals commonly found in similar products. So naturally, its nail polish remover is also made with gentle ingredients.

With a pleasant lavender scent, this soy-based formula will remove any eco-friendly, natural polishes, like those from the brand's own range. It contains vitamins A, C, and E, all of which help to maintain healthy, strong, nourished nails.

For this remover to work effectively, make sure a cotton ball or pad is totally saturated with the product. Next, wipe your nails and allow around 30 seconds for the product to sink in before wiping.

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?Recyclable bottle
100% vegan company?No
Parent company tests on animals?No

This acetone-free formula from Mineral Fusion will quickly and efficiently remove polish from your nails, without leaving them feeling dry.

The key ingredient is methyl acetate. A common solvent replacement for acetone, methyl acetate is considered to be gentler and less damaging to nails.

Mineral Fusion offers a wide range of nail products (including, it claims, the world's first carbon-free polish), and all of its packaging is 100 percent recyclable.

Best organic:

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?Bamboo lid
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?Not clear

For those who prefer their nail products to be totally free of acetone or acetate, Zao has created a gentle, organic remover that quickly and efficiently cleans off polish, without drying out your nails.

Instead, the brand has opted for ethyl lactate, a non-toxic, organic compound with a fruity odor, as well as alcohol (another solvent that helps to dissolve nail polish).

The natural formula is validated by Ecocert, one of the world's largest certification organizations for organic products. Its COSMOS stamp of approval is proof that Zao has created a remover with green chemicals in a way that is respectful of the environment and biodiversity.

Best conscious packaging:

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?Recyclable
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?No

Sienna Byron Bay is all about offering the best eco-friendly, non-toxic products for your nails. In fact, the brand claims it offers the world's only glitter-free, aluminum-free, non-particle-free nail polish, as well as a plant-based varnish option (made with ingredients like sugar cane and corn).

But having the right nail polish is one thing. The brand also wants you to be able to remove it in a way that supports nail health.

This Strengthening Nail Polish Remover is gentle, hydrating, and efficient. It contains horsetail plant extract, which is known for its nail-strengthening and lengthening properties.

Plus, the aesthetically pleasing, recyclable, glass packaging is a better choice for the planet than plastic.

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?Not specified
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?No

With this 3-in-1 Nail Color Remover, Aila prioritizes natural, plant-based ingredients that will not only clean your nails but nourish them too.

Argan oil, for example, helps to moisturize, hydrate, and heal your nails and cuticles. It also helps to strengthen and harden them, so that they grow faster and are less likely to break.

This is a particularly good option for those who are sensitive to fragrance, as the soy-based formula is totally odorless.

Best for gel:

Contains acetone?Yes
Sustainable packaging?Not specified
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?No

Founded more than 40 years ago by Jeff Pink, Orly is a big deal in the nail world. In fact, the brand was the first to invent the French manicure, a classic, timeless look still worn frequently today.

According to the brand, Pink also wanted to ensure that cosmetics were never harmful to people or animals, so every product in the Orly range is vegan.

If you're a fan of sparkles or using hardier gel formulas, this remover is for you. Not only does it remove traditional lacquer, but it will also take off more stubborn gel and glitter varnishes too.

While the Genius Remover includes eucalyptus, peach, and green tea extract, which will help to cleanse, strengthen, and nourish nails, be aware it also includes acetone.

Best budget:

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?None specified
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?No

With an affordable price tag, NCLA Beauty's soy-based nail polish remover will strip away polish without drying out or damaging your nails.

Thanks to vitamin E and jojoba oil, the formula will help to strengthen and nourish your nails, as well as help to heal any damage in your nail beds.

As well as this efficient and budget-friendly remover, NCLA offers a wide variety of nail care products, including vitamin E-infused cuticle oils in a range of scents.

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?Recyclable
100% vegan company?No
Parent company tests on animals?No

Founded back in the 1990s by Gabriel De Santino, Gabriel Cosmetics is known for prioritizing natural, gentle formulas.

Living up to that reputation, this non-toxic Liquid Nail Polish remove will quickly and easily remove polish, without damaging your nail beds.

The gentle formula, which has a subtle, citrusy, pleasant scent, will cleanse and soothe your nails, leaving you prepped and ready for a bare nail day or your next shade change.

Contains acetone?No
Sustainable packaging?Not specified
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?No

If you're a fan of nail polish remover wipes, LVX has created a soy-based, natural alternative to the many acetone options on the market.

They're quick and easy to use, and thanks to the addition of vitamin A, which helps to strengthen nails, vitamin E, which increases moisture, and vitamin C, which stimulates collagen production, they are also a solid addition to your nail care routine.

Each pack contains 12 odorless wipes. And, according to some reports, they are also biodegradable.

Contains acetone?Yes
Sustainable packaging?Refillable
100% vegan company?Yes
Parent company tests on animals?No

Zoya is all about innovative, efficient products. While this remover does include acetone, it still feels gentle, has a subtle, sweet scent, and helps to condition and cleanse nails ready for their next round of polish.

With a handy pump dispenser, the bottle design is also a big plus. Not only is it easy to use, but it also reduces waste, as it can be refilled over and over again. (Zoya sells refills in 32oz bottles.)

The Verdict

While many nail polish removers include animal ingredients, like lanolin or collagen, it is easy to find vegan options that boost nail health and efficiently strip polish too. While some vegan removers do contain acetone, if you prefer to avoid this particular solvent, there are a number of acetone-free alternatives.

To summarize our top picks:

Best organic: Zao Organic Nail Polish Remover
Conscious packaging: Sienna Byron Bay Strengthening Nail Polish Remover
Best for gel: Orly Genius Remover
Best budget: NCLA Take It Off Soy Based Nail Polish Remover

Which Brands Are Cruelty-Free?

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+ Show Comments (2) - Hide Comments (2)
  • wendy leja says:

    I was under the impression that the brand exo was vegan and cruelty free, I hope I’m not wrong. Thanks for this list.

  • Nancy Sanders says:

    If a product isn’t vegan, how can it be cruelty free? Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Nancy Sanders

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