Difference Between Acetone and Nail Paint Remover (With Table)

Nail paint or Nail enamel is a new fashion statement these days. Nail paints make your hands look younger and make manicure lasts longer. If you love applying nail polish you’ll definitely need to remove it after sometime when it starts chipping off.

Applying enamel to your nails is easier as compared to the removal process and after removal care. There are products like Acetone and Nail Paint Remover to help you get rid of those enamels.

Acetone vs Nail Paint Remover

The difference between Acetone and Nail Paint Remover is their composition. Acetone itself is a strong solvent with cleansing and breaking down properties while Nail Paint Remover either contains acetone as the main solvent or contains other light solvents as the major ingredient.

Acetone and Nail Paint Remover both are colorless liquids with washing out properties.


Comparison Table Between Acetone and Nail Paint Remover (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonAcetoneNail Paint Remover
CompositionContain acetone in a major ratio.Contain solvents such as ethyl acetate and isopropyl alcohol.
UsesUsed in the plastic industry, pharmaceutical industry, laboratory, the beauty industry.Used mostly in the beauty industry.
ProsWorks faster and efficiently.Have no negative effects.
ConsDehydrates nails and cuticles making them brittle and irritated.Takes a long time and needs scribbling, don’t work on shellac manicures.
Best forDark nail colors and shellac manicures.Light colors and sensitive skin types.


What is Acetone?

Acetone, or propanone,  a colorless solvent with a strong smell, is a naturally occurring organic compound. Its chemical formula is CH3(CO)CH3. Acetone is commonly used in the plastic industry, pharmaceutical industry, electronic industry, laboratory. The cleansing property of acetone makes it an active ingredient in cosmetic products such as skin creams, nail paint removers.

Acetone works by breaking down the top surface of the nail polish that contains plasticizers, film formers and color pigments. Wiping the top layer takes off the inner layers.

Acetone is the fastest way to remove nail polish. It takes less time and effort. Just apply the acetone on nails with a cotton ball and wipe it off. However, using acetone can sometimes prove damaging for nails. It dehydrates nails, cuticles, and the surrounding skin leaving itchy, red protector of the nails.

Overexposure to acetone leads to the whiteness of the cuticles just after the removal of nail polish which may lead to other skin conditions around the nails.

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What is Nail Paint Remover?

Nail Polish Remover is a colorless liquid containing solvents, oils, scents and colors. They come either as a liquid to be applied with cotton balls or as small cotton pads soaked in remover.

There are two types of removers-

  1. Acetone containing removers, and
  2. Non-Acetone containing removers or natural removers.

Acetone containing removers contain diluted acetone as solvent. They are easy to use and gets the work done in a few minutes.

Non-acetone containing removers contains alternative solvents such as ethyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol, butyl acetate, petroleum. Moisturizing agents like Aloe Vera and Glycerine are added to minimize the drying effects. Natural removers contain natural oils extracted from plants, scents and colors. Contains Aloe vera and Glycerine.

It works by dissolving the plastics, glues and colors and taking them off with the cotton balls or cotton pads. These are a gentle way of removing nail polish without taking away the moisture of the nails and surrounding skin. They work best for light nail colors and sensitive skin types.

Non-acetone containing removers are gentle to the nails but they don’t work as efficiently as acetone. They require more effort to remove nail polish which means you have to spend more time rubbing your nails. Natural removers when applied on hard colors, can’t even break the top layers.

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Main Differences Between Acetone and Nail Paint Remover

  • The main difference in Acetone and Nail Polish Remover is in its composition. Acetone is a solvent that is applied in its concentrate form whereas Nail Polish Remover may or may not contain acetone as the main solvent.
  • Acetone is the most effective way of removing nail polish but Nail Polish Remover is not as effective as acetone.
  • Removing with acetone requires less time and effort while Nail Polish Remover may take up to 20 minutes of scrubbing of nails.
  • Acetone due to its concentrated formula damages the nails and cuticles while Nail Polish Remover acts gently on the nails causing lesser damage.
  • Acetone leaves nails devoid of its moisture whereas Nail Polish Remover contains moisturizing agents that prove to be of great care for nails.
  • Acetone works wonders for dark nail colors and shellac manicures whereas Nail Polish Remover works for light nail colors and sensitive skin types but has no effect on shellac manicure.



Acetone and Nail Polish Remover both are colorless liquids having a solvent as the main component. Both the liquids have distinct smells. Acetone and Nail Polish Remover, both have a cooling effect while applying. Both get the job done, one acts faster than other.

Unfortunately, Acetone acts harshly on nails leaving them damaged. While Nail Polish Remover containing other solvents does the same work but less effectively.

It is purely the users choice whether to go for Acetone or Nail Polish Remover. One can easily spot right on the label whether the remover is acetone-free or not. The factors affecting this choice are their prices and quality.

Whether using Acetone or Nail Polish Remover, one should make sure to moisturize their nails and hands after the removal process.

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Last update on 2021-04-29 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API