Removing glitter nail polish

We love glitter nail polish as much as the next gal (maybe even more). But taking off glitter nail polish? It’s one of the most obnoxious beauty problems we can think of. It feels like no matter how many cotton balls you use, you still end up picking the polish off piece by piece — and taking flakes of your nails along with it.

And that’s not ideal at all. “You can severely damage the nails when peeling lacquer off,” says Kelly Bannon, Spa Manager at SpaRitual. “There is the potential to peel layers of your nail off by picking the lacquer off of the nail plate which will result in weak, thin nails.”

To help us keep our glitzy manis without sacrificing our nail health, we asked the pros for some tips on how to get off that pesky polish with as little hassle as possible.

  • Acetone is your ally. Non-acetone removers may promise to remove polish with less damage, but when it comes to stubborn glitter, using the most powerful stuff works best. You’ll probably end up using less remover and scraping less, too. Katie Jane Hughes, Global Color Ambassador at butter LONDON, recommended using “acetone-based removers with good grit,” like the Butter LONDON Glitter Scrubbers ($12). These removal wipes have one smooth side and one textured side, so you can safely scrub off glitter without damaging the nail. They’re acetone-based, but also contain aloe and vitamin E to nourish the nail at the same time. “Let the wipe soak on the nail for a minute; this will loosen the glitter a little,” Hughes said. “Then, simply apply some pressure and sweep down toward the tip of the nail.”
  • Do the wrap-and-soak. “Wrapping and soaking is the best bet especially when using a non-acetone remover (although an extra strength remover is ideal),” Bannon advised. If you’re not using a pre-soaked product, use a cotton ball. “Fully saturate a cotton ball in remover and apply directly to the nail surface. Ideally you want something that will stay on the nail for 30 seconds or more to loosen the glitters from the nail plate.” You can also take a tip from gel mani removal — apply the soaked cotton balls, and then wrap them in pieces of foil so that they stay put.
  • Go for partial glitter. “Glitter nail art versus a full nail is far easier to remove!” Hughes pointed out. Bannon also recommends applying glitter over a plain colored polish, so that the chunky glitter isn’t sitting directly on the nail.
  • Consider a peel-off basecoat. If you just want blinged out tips for a day or two, try using a peel-off basecoat, like SpaRituals UNVEIL Peel-Off Basecoat ($17). This new nail innovation makes it so you can rock as much glitter as you want, and remove it in one fell swoop. Simply apply the base coat like you would any other, and desired glitter polish. When you’re ready to take it off, it peels off in one piece.

READ MORE: 3 Nail Polish Removers That Actually Don’t Smell Terrible

We’re introducing a new “How To” column today! We’ll be tackling some of life’s most colorful and sparkly problems and sharing our favorite techniques for solving them. First up, we’re sharing three ways to remove glitter polish. I love sparkly nail polish but it is a NIGHTMARE to remove. I figured there must be a way to make this process easier so I did a little sleuthing. After trying a number of different techniques, I’m sharing my three favorites! Two involve items you probably already have in your home, and one is a fun new use for an at-home manicure product I’ve fallen in love with!

Plus, we’re sharing THIRTY of our favorite glitter polishes because I have problems making decisions but also because MORE IS MORE. Now you’ll have something to try these techniques with!

Aren’t they PRETTY!?!?!?!?!?!

METHOD #1: SOAK

The first method is similar to how they remove gel nail polish at the salon, soaking with nail polish remover. You’ll likely already have all the supplies you need for this one, right in your home!

You’ll Need: Nail Polish Remover | Cotton Balls | Aluminum Foil


1. Tear off a small piece of a cotton ball and soak in nail polish remover.
2. Place the soaked cotton on top of your nail and wrap tightly with a small square of aluminum foil. Repeat with all nails.
3. Let sit for 3-5 minutes.
4. While applying pressure to the top of your nail, pull the entire piece of aluminum foil off your nail and the polish will go right along with it! If there is any remaining nail polish, use another cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover to remove it.

METHOD #2: ELMER’S GLUE

This trick is something you do before applying the polish. Applying a layer of Elmer’s Glue allows the polish to peel right off! Since this makes it so easy to peel off, it’s best to use this trick for when you only want the polish on for a short amount of time, like a special event or a night out.

You’ll Need: Elmer’s Glue | Small Paint Brush or Nail Polish Brush (Cleaned Off)

1. Place a small bead of glue onto your nail.
2. Brush over nail so you have a thin, even layer of glue.
3. Polish nail and add top coat as you normally would.
4. When you’re ready to remove, simply peel the polish off. It comes off so easily! You can also use a wooden nail stick to scrape it off if you prefer.

METHOD #3: NAIL SHIELDS

This last method requires a bit of “special equipment” but I’ve become pretty obsessed with them after the company sent me some last year, so I wanted to share. These nail shields are intended for at-home gel manicures, but I found that they worked pretty well under glitter polish too! Since you are not curing them with an LED light, they won’t last as long as noted on the box, but they are still pretty strong and will last for several days.

You’ll Need: Nail Shields (Comes with the file and manicure stick)

1. Select a nail shield that is the size of your nail (or slightly smaller) and follow the instructions that come with the kit for applying it.
2. Be sure, as instructed, to smooth over all folds and bumps with the manicure stick so the shield is completely smooth.
3. Apply polish and top coat as you normally would.
4. When ready to remove, soak your nails in warm water for five minutes.
5. Then, peel the shield off your nail from the cuticle end.

Pinks + Reds
(From Top to Bottom) No. 1 Urban Outfitters “Calabunga” (no longer available)
No. 2 Nicole by OPI “Love Your Life” with Essie “Play Date” underneath
No 3 Sally Hansen Miracle Gel “Miss Wanderlust” No. 5 Essie “A Cut Above” No. 6 Ciate “Rosebush” (no longer available online, but available in stores) No. 7 Formula X “Frenzy” (no longer available online, but available in stores) No. 8 Deborah Lippmann “Candy Shop” No. 10 Julep “Hartleigh” with Julep “Myriam” underneath

Blues + Purples
(From Top to Bottom)

No. 1 Sephora for OPI “Spark-tacular” No. 2 Julep “Luna” 3. Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear “Sea-ing Stars” with Julep “Ali” underneath 4. ZOYA “Twila” 5. Nicole by OPI “Be Awesome” with Julep “Sophia” underneath 6. Ciate “Risky Business” 8. Formula X “Clever” 10. Salon Perfect “Square Pegs” Metallics + Neutrals
(From Top to Bottom) 1. Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear “Pixel Perfect” with Revlon “Sure Thing” underneath 3. Julep “Oscar” 4. Essie “Set In Stones” 7. Essie “Belugaria” (no longer available online, check CVS!) 9. Revlon “Sure Thing” on the bottom, Essie “Sparkle On Top” on top 10. Revlon “Diamond Texture”

Photos by Jeff Mindell

Do you have this problem, too? I hope you try one of these techniques out! And if you have any other fashion, beauty or party-related problems you’d like us to solve… let us know in the comments below!

p.s. A holographic manicure!

Youtube.com/Kelli Marissa

Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with glitter nail polish. On the one hand I love it, because it turns my nails into sparkly disco balls, but on the other, it can be time-consuming and irritating AF.

Yep, while the shiny rainbow flecks never fail to draw me in, the time and effort it takes to apply a bazillion coats of glitter, kills ALL the fun. Most of the time I’m left with patchy clumps of sparkle sporadically placed across each nail. Cute, huh? ?

Well guess what? It seems as though this mani ‘mare might actually be over. Because beauty vlogger, Kelli Marissa, has come up with a clever way to ensure a flawless glitter finish with zero patchiness.

Check out her video below to see the hack in action…

Clever, right? Let me break it down for you…

Step one: Apply a clear base coat.

Youtube.com/KELLI MARISSA

Step two: Kelli uses ‘liquid latex’ to paint around the edges of her nail, but the trick works just as well with PVA glue.

Youtube.com/KELLI MARISSA

Step three: Dab a glitter nail polish on to the corner of a small sponge.

Youtube.com/KELLI MARISSA

Step four: PAT the glitter onto your nail using the sponge. Apply it in layers to build up a fully opaque coverage.

Youtube.com/KELLI MARISSA

Step five: Finish with a topcoat.

Youtube.com/KELLI MARISSA

Et voila! No more patchy manis.

Giphy, Victoria Jowett Digital Beauty Director Vic is the Digital Beauty Director here at Cosmopolitan.com/UK.

What’s the easiest way to remove glitter nail polish?

  • Producer Nico Reyes tested the Up&Up Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover, UNT Ready for Takeoff (Peel Off Base Coat), Butter London Peel-Off Glitter Nail Lacquer, and the Julep Party’s Over Glitter Nail Polish Removal Kit to find the best way for removing glitter nail polish.
  • After trying out each method, she ranked it based on whether it was easy to do, if it damaged nails, and, of course, whether it got all of the glitter nail polish off.
  • The Up&Up Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover came out on top for its super speedy, yet gentle removal and its $1 price tag.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Nico Reyes: This is “How Much Should I Spend?” A show where I test out a product at various price points to let you know which is the best value for your money.

Today we’re gonna be testing out different ways of removing glitter nail polish. Now, I love glitter nail polish, especially during the holidays, but it is the hardest thing in the world to remove. Like, sometimes I actively avoid using glitter nail polish just because I dread the thought of taking it off so much. Like, I don’t want to, I don’t want to do it.

I’m gonna be looking for a removal method that is easy to do, doesn’t damage my nails, and, of course, gets all of that glitter nail polish off. The products that I’m gonna be testing out today are the Up&Up Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover, UNT Ready for Takeoff , the Butter London Glitter Peel-Off Nail Lacquer, and the Julep Party’s Over Glitter Nail Polish Removal Kit.

So, for each of these removal methods, I’m gonna have the same nail polish cocktail. On my left hand, we’re gonna do one coat of a color, two coats of glitter polish on top of that, and maybe for some fingers I’ll add on a topcoat just to see if that changes anything. But let’s get into it!

First up, we have the Up&Up Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover. Up&Up is a Target brand. I chose this remover specifically because it says on the packaging “removes glitter and gel polish from natural nails” and it has the unbelievably low price point of $1.39. That’s incredible. If it actually works. The four-out-of-five-star reviews it has online is also very promising to me, but let’s just get into it. Literally. It doesn’t feel good! But it’s not horrible, actually. It literally feels like I’m putting my finger in, like, somebody’s mouth.

This method, although I do think it is a bit drying, I don’t think it’s damaging to the nail. It really just depends on the pressure you’re using. You don’t need to be too harsh with it. The bristles aren’t very hard, so if you just keep that in mind, I think you’re fine. It took about less than 30 seconds per nail for all of that glitter to be completely and totally removed. I just was super impressed.

Moving on, we’re gonna be trying out UNT Ready for Takeoff Peel Off Base Coat, which retails for $10. I had to include this in this video because Cristine of Simply Nailogical absolutely raves about this product. I’m pretty sure that this is the product that makes her peely bag possible. You basically apply it like a base coat, let it dry, and then apply any polish you want on top of it. Then, when you’re ready to remove it, all you gotta do is peel it or use a little wooden stick to pop it right off.

I feel like this method does affect how long your nail polish will last on your hands, because there is a possibility that they could pop off before you want them to. I’m just gonna apply a very thin layer of this peel-off base coat before I start applying my normal nail polish. So here’s one thin layer of the UNT base coat. I’m just gonna pop it in my nail dryer really quick to make sure that it is fully dried before I start applying my nail polish. I’m just gonna take this little wooden stick and start prying it off my nail to see if this actually works. Let’s start from the bottom, just like Cristine does. She kind of, like, comes in from this side. Can you see what’s happening? Oh, my God. Ah! I’m going very slowly, just ’cause I don’t wanna rip it. There it is! My peel came off! Wow! That was actually really, really fun. That’s what it looks like. Ew, it still feels, like, the teensiest, tiniest bit wet. There was definitely no satisfying peeling going on here today. I just think my nail polish was just overall a little bit too wet still. I did the best that I could, and this method is surprisingly effective. But I think that for an acetone-free method, this one is actually pretty good. And I do know that it works a lot better when your nails are actually completely 100% dry. I’ve seen it in action myself, so that one’s on me.

Next up, let’s try a product that I am very intrigued by, and that is the Butter London Glitter Peel-Off Nail Lacquer. This basically works exactly the same as a peel-off base coat, except it takes it a step further. With this product, you have the nail polish and the peel-off aspect into one. Even though you are limited to the shades that they sell, I’m still really into this idea, and I’m so excited to try it out. Now let’s go in with our second coat. Oh, it does actually build up the more you layer it, but it also is a little bit too sticky to kind of smooth around nicely and evenly, which is kind of annoying. It kind of is like, do you know when you use, like, a glue gun and you have, like, that excess string of dry glue? That’s what happens every time you pull the brush away from your nail. It’s very strange.

I feel like the UNT base coat, which is just a peel-off base coat, wasn’t even as sticky as this polish feels like it is. Now I’m just gonna apply a topcoat to my thumb, middle finger, and pinky. It doesn’t explicitly say that you should use a topcoat or shouldn’t use a topcoat, so we’re just gonna keep testing it out with a topcoat to see what happens, what the difference actually is. So, these feel, for the most part, dry. I’ve been under the nail dryer for about 25 minutes now, so it definitely doesn’t dry quickly. Let’s see if this will actually peel off as easily as they say it will. Ooh, I do not like this! I don’t think I like how it applies, I definitely don’t like how it peels, and it left behind a lot of glitter and sticky residue that I just don’t want. It kind of felt like a straight-up glitter glue as a nail polish. Like arts and crafts glitter glue on my nails. I didn’t like it. There is a possibility that this thing could be damaging to your nails, because if you have the same experience that I just did, you’re gonna be stabbing at your nail for a while, which doesn’t sound like the greatest for your nails.

Our final method of removing glitter nail polish is this $28 kit from Julep. This is the Party’s Over Glitter Nail Polish Removal Kit. This method is basically exactly the same as using acetone-soaked cotton balls and foil to remove your nail polish, only with this kit these little caps are reusable, so you don’t have to keep throwing product away every single time. They’re very tight. Definitely have a better hold than any foil I’ve ever had on my nails before. This is definitely, like, way more secure. I’m gonna wrap this little tiny nail-polish-removing pad over my nail. Like that, I guess. Let’s slip into one of these nail caps.

So I’m just gonna, oh, God, this is the hard part. Like, how am I gonna… swoop in? Oh, there we go, perfect! This process is very simple. A lot simpler, in my opinion, than using foil, because with foil, if you’re doing it on yourself, it’s very difficult. And you can do this with one hand, ’cause with foil it feels like you need about five hands to get anything done. And now we wait five minutes. So, set the timer. All right, five minutes are up. That means it’s time to start squeezing and removing these caps. Uh, which finger? Let’s start with this one. I’m just gonna, like, do this. I assume when they say squeeze, they just mean to, like, buff all the glitter out, so let me give it a good squeeze. And… not 100% great. You definitely still see the glitter and polish left over on the sides, but it’s not terrible. This one is definitely a little bit cleaner, but still a lot of polish left over.

That was a bit disappointing. I feel like this kit, although very easy to use and figure out, it’s not exactly the quickest method nor the most effective. It’s just, eh, not as good as I wanted it to be. I kind of felt like the other methods had more promising results than this one did, and this is our most expensive option. So, mm, not good.

It has been a day trying out different methods of removing glitter nail polish. I took a thing that no one ever likes to do and just did it four times in a row, so I’m just a little all over the place right now. I think it’s the fumes. But all of my pain was worth it, because I do think that I found a great method for removing glitter nail polish, and that is the Up&Up Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover.

This stuff is fantastic. I think, hands down, it’s, like, the best nail polish remover I’ve ever used. The great thing about it is, I think, the bristles. Because it has these really soft bristles on the inside that you can just gently scrub your nail with, it really does work with removing all of that glitter and kind of breaking down the polish so you don’t have to do much work. The acetone is definitely drying, don’t get me wrong. But I think all acetones kind of work that way. They’re always gonna be very drying for your hands. I think a good cuticle oil or a hand lotion will fix that problem very easily. Not only is this thing super easy to use, it definitely had the least amount of glitter residue, and by least, I mean none left over. I saw no glitter on my nails afterwards.

Oof. Butter London. I would have to say that this was definitely the worst out of the products I tried today. I just think it’s too sticky. It’s, like, not a good polish, not a good peel-off base coat, so it’s just like, why, why buy this? Why buy it? And I do feel like poking at my nail for that long and trying to scrape all that product off is gonna do a lot more damage in the end than any of the other methods that I tried out today. If you’re on the market for an easy and effective way to remove your glitter nail polish and have a dollar to spare, I’d recommend the Up&Up Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover. It feels like Christmas morning to say that a $1 product has won “How Much Should I Spend?” And I’m really excited for more and more people to try this because it actually works. It works.