Easy Off: Glitter-Polish Removal Tips

by Janine on 4 January 2011 · 42 comments

To many, glitter is the herpes of cosmetics. Wear it once and years later it’ll pop up at the worst possible time in the oddest of places.

That observation by makeup pro Diana Carreiro amuses me every time I repeat it. And if you’ve got into the glitter, you know it’s true. The stuff’s hard to get clean off. It’s also a pain to remove from your nails, as you’re about to find out post New-Year glitter mani.

Luckily, our nail guru, Leeanne Colley of Tips Nail Bar, has a make-it-easier approach. Sometimes called the “foil method,” it requires polish remover, cotton pads or cotton balls, and ten smallish segments of tin foil.

1) Soak cotton in nail polish remover.
2) Position the soaked cotton against the surface of the nail.
3) Wrap a piece of tin foil around your fingertip, thimble-like, to keep the cotton in place.
4) After three or four minutes, press down on the nail and wiggle the foil-wrapped cotton off your finger.
5) Remove any leftover residue with a freshly soaked cotton ball or pad.

Presto! Glitter begone.

You can also use the foil method to remove soak-off gel manicures such as CND Shellac, Entity and Gelish. You’ll just need a bit longer between application and removal, and a cuticle pusher to push any old gel off the nail surface. It won’t work with Axxium unless you lightly buff the top coat with a nail file first. Then the Axxium colour underneath will be ready for foil-method removal.

UPDATE: The foil method is best attempted using pure acetone — it’s faster. Plus acetone blends that contain fragrance and colourants may irritate your skin like they did mine.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather 4 January 2011 at 2:53 pm

Gah! SO could have used these tips (hardeehar) last night. That shade is no fairytale to remove, let me tell you!


Janine 5 January 2011 at 4:03 pm

Rats — bad timing on my part! Sorry you suffered! xo


Jenn 4 January 2011 at 3:53 pm

“herpes of cosmetics” Snort.


Janine 5 January 2011 at 4:04 pm

I hear your snort and raise you a chortle, Jenn.


valerie 4 January 2011 at 9:23 pm

I love the metaphor


Janine 5 January 2011 at 4:04 pm

Apt, right?? With a little less ouchy.


Angela 4 January 2011 at 10:45 pm

So timely! Thank you so much for this! I definitely spent the majority of last week hacking at my OPI gold glitter manicure. So cute, yet so deadly!


Janine 5 January 2011 at 4:05 pm

Hacking??? I did not just read that you were hacking at your nails, Angela. No I did not. *grin*


Talia 5 January 2011 at 7:28 pm

Great tip! i’m for sure going to try that, it’s SO hard to take off glitter nail polish it took me a half an hour the other day!


Janine 22 January 2011 at 11:41 pm

I’m so glad I was totally eavesdropping when Leeanne was giving another client these removal tips!


Rulana 21 January 2011 at 11:42 pm

Thanks so much for the post and clean-cut instructions.
Will this method also work for removing regular nail polish off a natural nail? Around the cuticles, I get a ring of the color during removal that is so difficult to get off. I haven’t had much luck finding answers anywhere online. Hope you or maybe another reader will have a solution. If I can find something that works, I’m hoping to splurge on a Deborah Lippmann color…:) Thanks again!


Janine 22 January 2011 at 11:51 pm

I expect so, Rulana — give it a try. Dark shades can stain the skin and cuticles, but I used to find that going back to them with a fresh cotton pad soaked in remover helped a lot.

Try applying cuticle oil, or olive oil in a pinch, to your cuticles and let it sit for a bit before you remove your polish. That might help prevent the skin from staining.


Rulana 30 January 2011 at 1:38 am

Thanks for your reply, Janine. I will try your suggestions. The foil method did not work for me; maybe that is just a glitter thing. For anyone else with an issue like mine, I am having some luck with just using a base coat. It is then easier to simply peel off the layer of polish. I know that is awful for the actual nail, but desperate times call for you know what…especially if there is an issue right before leaving the house! You could always put on the cuticle oil after that to help “heal” the nail. I wonder if painting them is even worth it! I may keep checking back for future suggestions; I’ll find my miracle product someday :).


Janine 30 January 2011 at 3:24 am

Did you soak the cotton pads before putting them on the nails? I think you have to be quite generous with the remover. As to base coat, you should always use it because it provides a better base for colour as well as prevents the nails from staining. Peeling it off the nail could be stripping the nail surface, though, which might cause you problems too. Keep that nail oil handy… :-)


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