The Real Reason You Should Stop Using Acetone On Your Nails

Time and time again, we hear that using nail polish remover containing acetone is never a good idea. But why exactly is this chemical so verboten when it comes to your nails? First, it's important to understand that acetone is essentially a paint stripper. As Dr. Samantha Eisman of Sinclair Dermatology explained to Mamamia, "Acetone, also known as propanone, is a colorless, flammable liquid. It's a solvent (dissolves substances) and is used in the manufacturing of plastics, household products, cosmetic and personal care products." 


Given its potency, it can wreak havoc on your fingernails and has the potential to damage your cuticles, as well as the surrounding skin. "Many people don't realize that the damage that we do to our nails is not from the polish but rather the remover," board-certified dermatologist and nail specialist Dana Stern told The Huffington Post. "The polish can actually be protective to the nail. Taking a break from polish remover exposure allows the nail to recover."

Acetone can damage your nails and cuticles

The most concerning thing acetone does to nails is break them. It "significantly dries out the nail, leading to brittleness, splitting, peeling and breakage," said Stern. And it actually causes more damage to your cuticles. "Acetone has a huge effect on the cuticle skin, which is a protector of your nail," nail technician Thea Phan told Mamamia. "Cuticle skin will dry out when exposed to acetone." This can lead to cracking, peeling, bleeding, and for some, infection.


So, instead of using nail polish remover that contains acetone, try looking for products that are acetone-free. However, finding these products isn't as easy as it sounds. "There are many removers on the market that boast being fully 'natural' and biodegradable, but even polish removers that say 'natural' and 'organic' still contain solvents (just not acetone)," Eisman revealed. 

Ultimately, no matter what product you choose, it may cause some damage. To combat the effects, be sure to moisturize your hands and nails as soon as the polish has lifted.