How To Remove Nail Polish From Skin

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If you have run into the unfortunate event where you have spilt your Nail Polish on your skin; or its even on your child’s finger and you’re not quite sure how to remove it, don’t worry, this article is here to help.

Today, I will be bringing to you the best ways that you can use right away to remove that nail polish off quickly, effectively and conveniently.

Besides, we’ve all been there, and I know how you feel. Not only is it really frustrating that you’ve lost some of your nail polish unnecessarily , but its even more annoying to remove! Especially because traditional ways will tell you to use harsh chemicals that not only smell, but actually hurt and can damage your skin and nails!

The truth of the matter is the majority of standard nail polish removers contain harsh cleaners (like Acetone) that causes tremendous damage when used regularly in excess. As a Nail Technician and Manicurist, I’ve seen it time and time again in our Salon.

The short answer to this question, is that the best way to remove nail polish from your skin is with a natural, chemical free nail polish remover (like this one). This is formulated with all natural ingredients (free from Acetate, Ethyl Lactate & Petroleum Chemicals), and instead with safe ingredients that not only are able to effectively break down and remove nail polish quickly and easily, but that come with an abundance of ingredients that rejuvenate your skin following the removal process.

Thankfully, there are a number of more effective and health-approved approaches. So without further ado, lets find out How To Remove Nail Polish From Skin.

Method One – Use a Chemical-Free Natural Nail Polish Remover (Recommended) 

Nail polish remover is literally so brilliant…. but only when you use the right one!

The natural reaction when trying to remove polish quickly from your skin, is to reach for the nail polish remover. And this is a fantastic idea.

However, most traditional nail polish removers come loaded with harsh chemicals that will dry out and damage your skin and cause irritation (these are typically Acetate, Ethyl Lactate & Petroleum Chemicals).

Also remember, these are intended to be used on nails (which are harder and more resilient).

Even then, I will often recommend to my clients to get off standard nail polish removers, because they are notorious for causing damage to nail beds and cuticles with prolonged use (causing them to become weak and brittle).

This is particularly true for young children, those of you who have dry skin, or those of you who have sensitive skin..

Instead, get a bottle of natural chemical-free nail polish remover. This is extremely effective, if not better, at removing even the most stubborn of nail polishes. Plus, the majority of these, including our recommended Pure Vitality product (full review here), are formulated with ingredients that actually improve the health of your skin/nails (as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and proteins that your body utilizes and requires for repair and growth.

How to remove nail polish from skin

Here’s how you would use the nail polish remover to quickly and effectively remove it from your skin:

Step One (Optional): Whilst not always required (especially if you are using chemical free remover), you may want to apply some gloves to your hands. This is ideal if you have recently painted your nails and  do not want to risk taking it away! Plastic or Latex gloves are really effective here.

Step Two: Apply a small amount chemical-free natural nail polish remover to a Cotton Ball, Towel or Q-Tip (choose a Cotton Ball/ Towel or Q-Tip depending on what you have available and how much nail polish you have on your skin. Depending on how much and where it has dried, you may need a smaller or larger surface area).

(Additional Tip: Do not over-apply the nail polish remover, you want a small amount of the Cotton Ball, Towel or Q-Tip – this will help you to remove the nail polish more easily and will also help you to preserve your remover for longer. If you have accidentally applied too much remover, then drain as required.)

Step Three: Rub calmly on the area until the nail polish comes off. You may be required to soak more remover liquid onto your Cotton Ball, Towel or re-dip your Q-Tip. Remain patient, depending on the strength of the nail polish, you may need to rub calmly for some time. However, you will get to the point where the Nail Polish has been completely removed.

Step Four: Clean your skin, and the previously affected area, with warm soap and water to remove any of the remaining nail polish remover.

Step Five (Optional): If you want to really look after the health of your skin, I recommend that you apply some moisturizer or lotion. This will ensure that the area does not dry out.

Method Two- Use Rubbing Alcohol

If you haven’t yet heard of Rubbing Alcohol or are yet to use it, then this may be the time. Rubbing Alcohol is also another great option if you have sensitive skin or are looking to keep exposure to nasty chemicals and ingredients at bay.

Rubbing Alcohol is a very effective way to remove nail polish, but bear in mind it is not as as strong as a natural nail polish remover so will require a bit more patience and a longer time rubbing.

The benefits of opting for Rubbing Alcohol however, are that it is very gentle on your skin and unlikely to dry the area out.

I actually use Rubbing Alcohol Wipes because they take away all of the effort of applying wipes, clearing up any mess etc.

To use these wipes, simply take one out of the packaging and rub the affected area of nail polish – you may need to be quite firm. Following this, wash the area with warm water and a soap. 

Method Three- Use Baby Wipes (Ideal for Sensitive Skin)

If you have sensitive skin and you do not have any Rubbing Alcohol lying around, then there is the possibility that you have Baby Wipes. If not; these are quite easy to go and get. You can even get a great deal on Amazon.

The reason in why Baby Wipes are not my recommended method, is because they are not particularly strong and can be used when you get Nail Polish on sensitive areas, like the face.

Whilst the use of baby wipes is great for sensitive skin, as they were not actually designed for removing polish, you will find that they are not as effective as natural nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.

As such, using Baby Wipes is most effective when the nail polish is wet (and the more dry the nail polish becomes the less effective this method is). If the nail polish is completely dry, then you may cause extra irritation by scrubbing with the desired force to remove the nail polish entirely, but you will manage to weaken the polish.

Having said this, I like to reach for baby wipes when nail polish has been applied to my skin and it is still wet.

Here’s what you would need to do: remove a baby wipe from the packet and gently wipe the area. You will notice that the ingredients in the wipe will slowly help to dissolve the nail polish, and will make it easier to wipe off with a tissue.

Method Four- Use Oils

This is another great approach if you need to act quickly and are looking for something that you already have at home and can quickly use.

There are a range of Oils that are ideal for sensitive areas (Baby Oil, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil are my personal favorites).

To remove nail polish from your skin using an oil this is pretty simple, this is what you will need to do:

Step One: Get a small, soft towel (that you do not mind potentially staining) and apply some Baby, Coconut or Olive Oil to the corner.

Step Two: Gently rub at the area, and lathe the area in the oil. What you will find is that the oils are able to naturally dissolve the nail polish. This makes it easier to wipe away the nail polish with a tissue.

Step Three: You are now going to want to remove any remaining Oil from the area away with warm water and gentle soap.

Method Five: Use More Nail Polish!

This sounds entirely counter-productive, but its actually a trick of those in the industry and used by Manicurists and Nail Technicians regularly in Salons.

And whilst this sounds rather odd, the concept is that you are increasing the surface area of the polish, and using the wet polish to stick to the already dried polish; making it easier to remove.

To do this, you are going to want to follow these steps:

Step One: Apply some nail polish to the skin (where dried nail polish has fallen already). You are going to want to leave this new coat on for a few seconds.

Step Two: Now you need to act quick – wipe off the polish using a clean cloth before it dries. You will notice that the newly applied polish will stick to the old polish and help to remove it!

Step Three: Wash the area after using warm water and soap to ensure that you remove any remaining nail polish residue.

Method Six: Let the Nail Polish Wear Off On Its Own. (Least Recommended)

Believe it or not, an option for you  is to actually go ahead and do nothing!

If you really didn’t have or feel the need to remove the nail polish quickly (say you only have a little bit of polish on your skin or it is in an area that is rarely seen), then you can go ahead and let the nail polish remove by itself, which should happen in a few days.

What you will find if you decide to do this, is that through your day-to-day activities and lifestyle, your skin will rub against other things which will actually weaken the nail polish over time. The friction over time will cause the nail polish to be more easily removed at a later date – around 2/3 days after it came into contact with the skin.

I wouldn’t recommend this option for several reasons.

  1. You are essentially leaving nail polish, and some nasty chemicals, may actually leech into the skin. This is not particularly good, and should be avoided where possible
  2. Whilst you may believe it is in an area that cannot be seen, you’ll be surprised at how often I’ve been caught out with nail polish from the salon being on my skin and somebody else noticing the next day!

Final Words

By now, you know How To Remove Nail Polish From Skin, what you need and how to go about doing it.

The truth is, getting Nail Polish on your skin is one of those unfortunate things that comes as part of application and having nice nails in general. Its going to happen sooner rather than later as its just one of those things that is hard to completely avoid.

Whilst you may be reading this whilst you are already in this situation, then hopefully I have been able to outline your options and to provide you with some things lying around your home to help you take action fast.

The best thing you can do is to purchase some natural and chemical free nail polish remover and/or Rubbing Alcohol, so that if you find yourself in this situation again in the future, you have the necessary and ideal products to quickly and effectively remove even the most stubborn nail polishes.


My skin is completely covered in Nail Polish and I don’t have any products to use right now.

The best thing you can do in this situation is to get straight into the shower, or run some lukewarm/hot water over your hand. This will help to breakdown the polish. From here you will then need to use soap or body wash, and scrub at the area.

This will be difficult and you will require some effort, and will cause some irritation to the area. Whilst you may not be able to remove much of the nail polish immediately, you will find that it is considerably weaker and will come off easier as the day/night progresses.

From here, I advise that you get a chemical-free nail polish remover at the earliest opportunity to remove the remaining polish.

What should I do in the days following?

If you have been able to successfully remove the Nail Polish from your skin, I would then recommend that you apply some Moisturizer to the effected area daily for around a week after. This way, you will ensure that your skin remains moisturized and doesn’t dry out.

I actually use this Moisturizer and recommend it to my many clients.

Can I use Vegetable Oils?

Unfortunately not; these do not have the same chemical and molecular structure as Coconut/Olive, and do not come with the same properties that are able to considerably weaken nail polish for its removal.

Can I just use Acetone/Standard Nail Polish Remover

The short answer is yes you can, and it is an effective short-term solution – particularly if you have a bottle lying around your house. However, be wary and note that it will cause irritation to your skin/any area that comes into contact and is not suitable for the face or sensitive areas (if it gets into your eyes/mouth it can cause serious issues and may require medical assistance). Moreover, long term – this kind of nail polish remover is notorious for damaging nails and cuticles, and prevent them from effectively growing.