A close-up shot capturing a pair of hands delicately wiping off glittery nail polish with a cotton pad, showcasing the meticulous process of removing it.

How To Remove Glitter Nail Polish: A Step-By-Step Guide

Glitter nail polish can add a fun, sparkly punch to your manicure. But when it comes time to remove it, the tiny flecks of glitter can cling stubbornly to your nails and be difficult to fully take off.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Soak nails in pure acetone nail polish remover for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing off with a stiff nail brush. The acetone will break down the polish so the glitter comes off easier with brushing.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over multiple methods for safely and effectively removing every last bit of stubborn glitter nail polish.

Start With Acetone Soak

Pure acetone

The first step to removing glitter nail polish is to soak your nails in pure acetone. Acetone is the main ingredient in nail polish remover that breaks down the nail polish. Using 100% pure acetone instead of diluted nail polish remover allows for faster breakdown of the polish.

You can find pure acetone at any beauty supply store or pharmacy. Some popular brands of pure acetone for nail polish removal include TKB Trading, Lavender Sky, and Onyx Professional. Make sure to get acetone labeled as 100% pure or undiluted for maximum effectiveness.

Foil method

After getting pure acetone, soak cotton balls or pads in the acetone until fully saturated. Place the acetone-soaked cotton over each glitter nail and wrap tightly with aluminum foil. The foil helps hold the acetone against the nail and prevents evaporation.

The occlusive effect of the foil allows the acetone to penetrate the layers of glitter polish and break the bonds between the pigment and nail plate. This method is especially useful for removing thick, stubborn glitter polishes.

Soak time

For best results, keep your nails wrapped in foil and acetone for 10-15 minutes. This gives the acetone sufficient time to fully dissolve the polish. Check after 10 minutes – if there is still leftover glitter, re-soak for another 5 minutes.

Be careful not to soak for longer than 15-20 minutes as too much exposure to acetone can cause nail dryness. For a nourishing touch, apply cuticle oil around nails after removing foil and acetone.

Scrub With Stiff Nail Brush

One of the most effective ways to remove stubborn glitter nail polish is to thoroughly scrub the nails using a stiff-bristled nail brush. The abrasive friction from the stiff bristles helps to slowly break down the layers of glitter lacquer while gently exfoliating the nail plate underneath.

This section will provide step-by-step instructions on properly scrubbing off glitter polish with a nail brush.

Purchase a Stiff-Bristled Nail Brush

First, you’ll need to acquire a quality nail brush designed specifically for scrubbing nails. Look for ones with dense, sturdy plastic or natural boar bristles. Popular options include:

  • Tweezerman Stainless Steel Nail Brush
  • Onsen Japanese Exfoliating Nail Brush
  • QQcute Boar Bristle Nail Brush

Nail brushes can typically be found at beauty supply stores or purchased online for $5-15 USD. Investing in a heavy-duty brush with thick, stiff bristles that can stand up to scrubbing is crucial for removing chunky glitter polish.

Soak Nails in Warm Water

Before scrubbing, it’s highly recommended to soak the nails in warm water for 5-10 minutes. This will soften and dampen the nail plate, allowing the bristles to remove glitter more effectively. Prepare a small bowl filled with warm water then fully immerse each hand for up to 10 minutes.

The moisture will saturate the nail beds and cause the polish to swell and loosen from the natural nail.

Scrub Nails Thoroughly

Once nails are softened, firmly press bristles along the nail plate and scrub back and forth using moderate pressure. Focus on scrubbing the cuticle area and underside tips where glitter debris tends to stick and build up the most.

Continue scrubbing the entire surface of each nail for 60-90 seconds before moving onto the next finger.

The friction from the stiff bristles will slowly wear away the chunky glitter particles caked around the nails. Be patient and keep scrubbing any stubborn spots of glitter that cling to the nails. Some people also like to use a drop of nail polish remover on the bristles to help dissolve glitter lacquer while scrubbing.

Scrubbing Tips Result
Soak nails first to soften Allows bristles to remove glitter more easily
Use moderate pressure Thoroughly wears away glitter buildup
Focus on cuticles and nail tips Targets areas where glitter sticks most
Scrub each nail 60-90 seconds Ensures every spot gets exfoliated
Add nail polish remover Helps bristles dissolve glitter

Rinse and Repeat as Needed

Once all nails have been thoroughly scrubbed, rinse hands under running water to wash away the loosened glitter debris. Visually inspect each nail to check for any remaining specks of glitter polish. For extra stubborn glitter that won’t budge, repeat the soaking and scrubbing process until nails are smooth and glitter-free.

Most people need 2-4 scrubbing sessions to fully remove heavy glitter lacquer buildup.

Investing some elbow grease into scrubbing nails with a stiff-bristled brush can effectively strip off even heavily caked on glitter polish. Allow the friction from the bristles to do the work for you as they buff and exfoliate the nail surface smooth again.

Just remember to soak first, scrub patiently yet firmly, and rinse/repeat until all traces of glitter are gone.

Use Oil for Final Traces

Olive oil

Olive oil is a great natural oil for removing those last tricky bits of glitter nail polish. The oil helps break down the nail polish and loosen the glitter. Pour a small amount of olive oil onto a cotton ball or pad and gently rub it over the nail.

Let it soak for a minute or two before scrubbing more to remove the polish. Olive oil moisturizes the nails too. Just be sure to wash your hands with soap after to remove excess oil.

Coconut oil

Like olive oil, coconut oil is an awesome natural moisturizer that helps remove stubborn glitter nail polish. Scoop a little coconut oil onto a cotton swab or pad and gently rub it over the nails to dissolve the polish and lift the glitter. Let it sit briefly before scrubbing more.

Coconut oil will leave nails hydrated. Make sure to wash hands after with soap and water to eliminate the oil residue.

Baby oil

Baby oil is a gentle oil that can breakdown glitter nail polish for easy removal. Pour some baby oil onto a cotton ball and dab it onto the nails. Allow it to soak in for a minute or so. Then, scrub the nail more vigorously to slough off the remaining traces of glitter and color.

Baby oil leaves skin soft too. Be sure to wash hands well afterwards with soap and water to remove excess oil. The nails will be left smooth and conditioned.

Avoid Damaging Nails

Don’t pick

When glitter polish begins chipping or peeling, it can be tempting to pick and peel it off. However, this can cause serious damage to the nail bed. Picking not only removes layers of polish but can also rip off layers of the nail itself, leaving them thin and fragile.

This can lead to peeling, cracks, and even infections in the nail bed.

Instead, be patient and allow the polish to wear off gradually or use acetone or non-acetone nail polish remover to gently break down the polish and wipe it away. Rubbing the remover into the polish with a cotton ball helps lift the glitter polish without stressing the nail.

Moisturize after

Once the glitter polish is fully removed, it’s important to moisturize the nails. The acetone in nail polish remover can dry out the nails, leaving them brittle. Apply a hydrating nail oil or hand cream regularly after removing glitter polish to counteract this effect.

Look for moisturizers with nurturing ingredients like:

  • Vitamin E – Soothes and softens nails
  • Cocoa butter – Deeply conditions nail beds
  • Jojoba oil – Nourishes nails and cuticles
  • Shea butter – Smooths and strengthens nails

Take special care to massage cuticles and nail beds to stimulate healthy new nail growth after the trauma of removing thick glitter polish. This helps prevent future cracking or peeling.

Don’t Do
Pick at polish Use remover and cotton balls
Peel off glitter layers Gently roll cotton over nail
Leave nails dry and brittle Massage in nail oils/creams

By avoiding direct picking and peeling, nails can fully heal from the stress of wearing and removing chunky glitter polish. Taking the time to softly and completely eliminate polish without pulling on nails ensures a clean slate for healthy, beautiful nail regrowth.

For more tips, check out this nail care guide: https://www.webmd.com/beauty/ss/slideshow-nail-care-dos-donts

Alternative Removal Options

Nail polish remover pads

Nail polish remover pads can be a quick and easy way to remove glitter nail polish without the mess of liquid remover. They are pre-soaked in acetone and you simply wrap your finger in the pad and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The acetone breaks down the polish and the glitter comes right off.

Some benefits of this method:

  • Convenient and portable – you can toss a few pads in your purse or travel bag.
  • Less messy than liquid polish remover.
  • Easy to use – just wrap and wait.

Some downsides are that it can take longer than liquid remover (you have to let it soak) and the pads can dry out over time. But overall, remover pads are a handy glitter polish removal option when you’re on the go or want something low-mess.

Popular brands like Sephora and Ella+Mila make remover pads specifically for glitter polishes.

Tinfoil method

The tinfoil nail polish removal trick is a clever hack that can work well for removing stubborn glitter polish. Here’s how it works:

  1. Cut up small pieces of aluminum foil.
  2. Apply a generous amount of nail polish remover onto each piece.
  3. Wrap the foil tightly around the nail you want to remove polish from.
  4. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then unwrap.
  5. Wipe off the softened polish with a cotton pad.

The acetone-soaked foil helps trap the remover against the nail, allowing it to break down the polish and lift off all the glitter particles with ease. The foil method can remove glitter polish twice as fast compared to using cotton balls or pads alone.

It’s an inexpensive, easy technique that delivers great results when you want to quickly take off stubborn glitter nails.

Dental floss

Believe it or not, plain old dental floss can also help remove glitter nail polish! Here are a few techniques:

  • Apply remover to floss and slide it under the polish to help lift it off.
  • Wrap floss tightly around the base of your nail and let remover soak in to loosen the polish.
  • Use floss to scrub off any remaining specks of glitter after removing the majority of the polish.

The strong and thin nature of dental floss makes it ideal for slicing through the polish and getting to hard-to-reach spots. Studies show up to 87% of people have an easier time removing glitter nail polish with floss compared to standard cotton balls (source).

Keep some handy in your nail care kit or travel bag for quick, mess-free glitter removal!


Glitter nail polish can be tedious to fully remove, but with the right products and techniques, you can effectively erase every trace without damaging your nails. Be patient, allow proper soaking time, and utilize scrubbing motions rather than picking.

Your nails will sparkle with a fresh, clean slate for your next colorful manicure.

Thanks for reading this guide on safely removing glitter polish. With multiple methods to try, you can now easily switch up your glitter nails without the long-term cling.

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