The best nail polish remover you can buy

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The best nail polish removerZoya Nail Polish

  • Most nail polish removers are either harsh or ineffective, but the Zoya Remove Plus 3-in-1 Formula is neither.
  • It's beloved by experts and shoppers alike for its gentle yet powerful formula that leaves nails clean and hydrated.

I hate removing nail polish so much that whenever I get a manicure I let it chip off into oblivion for weeks before finally taking a soaked cotton round to the damage. And gel polish? Forget it. I once let that go for so long that I basically tried to create a whole new trend of half-painted nails by letting the polish grow out.

Part of the problem is that I've never found a nail polish remover that I loved. I have always picked up whatever giant bottle of acetone is cheapest at the drugstore. But there are actually a lot of options - acetone vs. non-acetone, wipes vs. caps, conditioning formulas designed to help your nails recover vs. simpler ones aimed toward getting the job done.

If this all sounds too complicated for you, Insider Picks is here to help. We've researched the best nail polish removers in every category, so you can find exactly what you're looking for - and stop destroying your precious nail beds in the process.

Here are the best nail polish removers you can buy:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

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The best nail polish remover overall

The best nail polish remover overall
Why you’ll love it: Zoya Remove Plus 3-in-1 Formula is a hydrating, acetone-free formula that strips away polish and leaves your nails happier and healthier than they were before.

Nail polish remover, like nail polish itself, has a bad reputation. Many formulas strip your nails of essential nutrients, leaving them thin and brittle. Zoya Remove Plus 3-in-1 Formula has been recommended in all corners of the internet for its ability to wipe polish away while restoring moisture and nutrients to dried-out nails.

The formula is so gentle because it lacks acetone, which is the active ingredient in many popular removers. Acetone effectively clears polish away, but can be harsh on the nails themselves. Despite the acetone-free formula, reviewers can't say enough good things about Zoya Remove Plus’ ability to remove polish quickly and easily.

Speaking of reviewers, this product has been recommended by countless beauty editors and shoppers. Zoya Remove Plus has a 4.5 rating on Amazon and Influenster, based on 392 reviews and 4,518 reviews, respectively. It’s been featured on best-of lists at The Cut, Allure, Her Style Code, and Wise Bread.

Fans love the smell, which The Cut editor Ashley Weatherford compared to “baby shampoo,” the no-spill dispenser, and gentle formula that delivers on its promises.

Pros: Acetone-free, hydrating formula, packaging features a pump, pleasant smell

Cons: Pricier than most drugstore options

Buy a 32-ounce bottle of the Zoya Remove Plus 3-in-1 Formula on Amazon for $25

The best sponge nail polish remover

The best sponge nail polish remover
Why you’ll love it: Tucked inside the Pretty Nails Regular Nail Polish Remover jar is a soaked sponge that dissolves polish like magic.

The Pretty Nails Regular Nail Polish Remover certainly sounds too good to be true. Inside the unassuming 8-ounce jar is a piece of foam soaked through with an effective conditioning formula with acetone for easy polish removal.

You’re supposed to stick your finger through the opening in the foam, swirl around to remove the polish, and voila, all clean! It can’t be that easy, can it?

Well, it seems like maybe it can be. Reviewers agree that this stuff actually works, and works really well. The remover has a 4.1-star rating on Influenster based on 26 reviews and is an Amazon’s Choice pick.

“This is easy to use, and it works fabulous. Better than any other nail polish remover I have ever used,” writes one shopper. “No need for cotton balls. Strong but feels a little like it moisturizes the skin around the nails.”

Another reviewer says, “Pretty Nails is, without a doubt, the best nail polish remover on the market.”

The only real downsides are the relatively high price tag and the fact that some reviewers note it’s harder to find in stores than online. Unlike most sponge polish removers,this one even comes with a separate sponge to use on toes and hard-to-reach spots.

Pros: No mess, removes polish quickly without additional cotton pads, good for travel, comes with sponge for toe polish

Cons: Contains acetone, high price tag

Buy the Pretty Nails Regular Nail Polish Remover on Amazon for $11.99

The best drugstore nail polish remover

The best drugstore nail polish remover
Why you’ll love it: A good nail polish remover doesn’t have to cost you — the Sally Hansen Strengthening Nail Polish Remover is one of the best on the market and it’s less than $6.

If the $10-ish price point seems a little high for such a basic staple, you’re in luck. There are certainly good, effective polish removers to be found at the drugstore for less than the cost of a fancy latte, and Sally Hansen Strengthening Nail Polish Remover is the best.

This acetone-based polish remover also claims to strengthen nails thanks to the glycerin, vitamins, and proteins in the formula. Don’t expect anything fancy here — this is your classic liquid polish remover that comes in a plastic bottle.

You’ll need cotton balls or some other absorbent material of your choice to apply the product to your nails, so it’s not a one-and-done kind of deal like the Sephora Collection sponge. But for a simple, effective option that won’t destroy your nails, you can’t beat it.

Sally Hansen Strengthening Nail Polish Remover is an Amazon’s Choice pick and has a 4.1 rating based on 255 reviews.

“Most nail polishes make my already thin nails even more weak and brittle, but I truly believe this one helps strengthen my nails,” writes one reviewer. “I'll admit, I don't paint my nails often — once or twice a month — but when it comes time to remove the old polish, this remover makes it effortless. It's perfect!”

Pros: Affordable, easy to use, contains nail strengthening ingredients

Cons: Acetone, strong scent

Buy Sally Hansen Strengthening Nail Polish Remover on Amazon for $5.75

The best nail polish remover pads

The best nail polish remover pads
Why you’ll love them: Looking for a nail polish remover to use on-the-go? The Ulta Regular Nail Polish Remover Pads fit in your bag and whisk off polish without making a mess.

Typical nail polish removers aren’t ideal for travel. Who wants to carry a big bottle of reeking polish remover in their purse or airplane carry-on? That’s where the Ulta Regular Nail Polish Remover Pads come in.

These individually-wrapped, pre-soaked pads come ready to use, so you can toss them in your bag and without worrying about spillage or angry TSA agents. They’re ideal for emergencies — if a chipped nail can ever officially be considered an emergency — or for travel situations when you anticipate needing remover but don’t want to take up too much space in your luggage.

For the wildly affordable price of $1.97 you get 10 pads. You’re supposed to be able to use one pad for both hands, which means these should last you a good while, though depending on the color and texture of your polish it might take more.

Ulta Regular Nail Polish Remover Pads are recommended by Best Products and have a 4.5-star rating on Ulta based on 153 reviews.

“One pad will take off multiple layers of polish from either my hands or feet,” writes one customer. “These are not dry like some of the others I've tried. These are also great for travel.”

Pros: Individually wrapped, affordable, good for travel

Cons: May need more than 1 pad depending on the type of polish you have on

Buy Ulta Regular Nail Polish Remover Pads at Ulta for $3.99

The best natural nail polish remover

The best natural nail polish remover
Why you’ll love it: Karma Organic Nail Polish Remover with Soybean Oil & Lavender makes taking off your nail polish a pleasant experience, thanks to the smell and the nourishing formula.

If you’re looking for a non-acetone, alcohol-free nail polish remover that does the job and smells good, check out the Karma Organic Nail Polish Remover with Soybean Oil & Lavender. It’s made with a combination of nourishing ingredients designed to clean polish off your nails without stripping them.

This remover is very highly rated on Amazon with a a 4.4-star rating based on more than 1,000 reviews. It’s also an Amazon Choice pick and was recommended by Jezebel writer Margaret Hartmann who said, “it feels like rubbing oil into your nails” rather than the typical astringent liquid.

In general, reviewers are impressed with how well this stands up to more traditional nail polish removers, and how pleasant the scent is in comparison.

“Definitely agree with the reviews that this works better than regular acetone polish removers, specifically for the usage of nail polish removal; the formula is like an oil that rapidly removes the polish in just a few seconds, and then leaves nails hydrated. It smells so much better than acetone, too,” writes one reviewer.

The major downside is that it doesn’t remove all types of nail polish — according to the product description it won’t work on gel polish or acrylics.

Pros: Acetone- and alcohol-free, hydrating formula, nice smell

Cons: Doesn’t remove gels or acrylics

Buy Karma Organic Nail Polish Remover with Soybean Oil & Lavender on Amazon for $11.99

Check out our guide to the best nail clippers

Check out our guide to the best nail clippers
The best nail clippers you can buy

All nail clippers are not created equal. Sometimes it's worth spending a little more to get that perfect blend of sharpness, comfort, and durability.

If you're tired of hacking your fingernails off so that they grow back at weird angles, it might be time for an upgrade. The good news? Even the most refined, elegant nail clippers won't totally break the bank. In fact, you can pick up a great pair of clippers for only a few dollars more than their inferior brethren.

Here are the best nail clippers you can buy:
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