Is All Nail Polish Remover Toxic?

Whether you love having your nails at a nail salon or you’re an avid at-home manicurist, it’s crucial to prioritize the quality of the ingredients in the nail care products you use. With this in mind, you may wonder about the toxicity of certain formulas and ingredients. 

When it comes to swapping the color of your polish, for instance, you likely use nail lacquer remover—but are these types of products safe for your skin and nails? In other words, is nail polish remover toxic?

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into nail polish removers so that you can gain a better understanding of their toxicity and decide whether non-acetone removers are a safer option for you. 

Introduction to Nail Polish Removers

Nail polish removers typically feature acetone as the main active ingredient. This colorless, flammable liquid is a solvent, meaning it can dissolve other substances, including: 

  • Nail polishes
  • Paints
  • Adhesives

This is why you can find acetone in a variety of products other than nail lacquer remover, including paint thinner and household cleaning products. 

However, not all nail polish removers contain acetone. If you want to steer clear of this ingredient, you can easily find lacquer removal products that contain other solvents, which can be more gentle on your skin and nails. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a product with or without acetone, it’s important to keep an eye out for other ingredients, like vitamin E and other moisturizing oils, that will help lock in hydration and replenish your skin and nails in between manicures.  

The Toxicity of Some Acetone-Based Removers

Acetone works by breaking down nail polish so you can remove it from the surface of your nail. While it’s a chemical ingredient found in many conventional nail polish removers, acetone is also a naturally occurring solvent, found in trees, plants, volcanic gasses, and even the human body.1 However, over-exposure or sensitivity to this ingredient can nevertheless cause an allergic reaction to acetone:

  • Nail plate discoloration
  • Red and swollen fingertips
  • Contact dermatitis on nails and skin
  • Cracked and brittle nails

This begs the question, is acetone dangerous to your health? 

The FDA doesn’t categorize acetone as a toxic ingredient.2 That said, prolonged or excessive exposure to acetone can cause symptoms including:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness
  • Lung irritation

Fortunately, when used in moderation, you’re typically able to avoid these acetone side effects, especially if you always use nail polish remover in a well-ventilated area. Even still, if you have sensitive skin or an allergy to regular nail polish remover, you may be better off substituting this product for a natural nail polish remover or acetone-free alternative. 

Is Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover Toxic?

While acetone is a safe ingredient to use in moderate quantities, non-acetone removers can help prevent adverse skin reactions, like contact dermatitis, if you’re more prone to acetone sensitivity and skin irritation. However, it’s important to remember that non-acetone products will still contain solvents—the key ingredient required to break down nail polish during the removal process. 

This may cause you to wonder, “Is non-acetone polish remover toxic?” The short answer is no—non-acetone polish remover is generally non-toxic, especially if you purchase it from a brand you can trust. With Dazzle Dry’s Non-Acetone Lacquer Remover, you can rest assured that your remover is safe and gentle on your skin and nails. 

Environmental Impact of Traditional Nail Polish Removers

Although not considered a toxic substance, the FDA does classify conventional nail polish remover as household hazardous waste since acetone makes the product flammable. Additionally, if it sits in a landfill, nail polish remover can leach toxic components, including dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde, and negatively impact the environment. 

In other words, acetone-free nail polish removers may be a better option to choose when it comes to caring for the environment. 

Alternatives to Traditional Nail Polish Removers

When you’re looking for an alternative to traditional nail polish removers, it’s important to shop for products that contain high-quality ingredients. Fortunately, at Dazzle Dry, we have the substitution you need. 

Our REMOVE Non-Acetone Lacquer Remover is strong enough to remove our long-lasting polish, but also gentle on your skin and nails. It’s specially formulated with nourishing eucalyptus and spearmint oils, meaning this acetone-free product also provides a spa-like aroma to help you relax as you enjoy your rejuvenating self-care day. 

Find Non-Toxic Products with the Help of Dazzle Dry

When you’re ready to elevate your nail game and make the switch to non-toxic ingredients, make sure to browse the non-toxic nail polish collection, lacquer removers, and other nail care products at Dazzle Dry. Whether you’re looking for a classic nail polish remover or a gentle option free from acetone, we have you covered. 

At Dazzle Dry, we believe that knowing what’s in your cosmetic products is key to achieving healthy, happy nails. With our conscientious, vegan, and chemical-free formulas, you can feel confident that you’re giving your skin and nails the safe, high-quality treatment they deserve.


  1. Medical News Today. What Is Acetone. 
  2. Sinclair Dermatology. EXPLAINER: What’s the deal with acetone nail polish remover and is it bad for your nails?