Are Nail Polish Remover and Acetone the Same?

If you are a cautious nail polish wearer, the question “are nail polish remover and acetone the same” is likely to pop into your head easily. First of all, the question is a little bit tricky and there is no one-way answer to this question. It’s because the answer genuinely needs some explanation.

Acetone is an agent of a nail polish remover. It is a solvent that almost all the traditional removers of nail polish used to carry earlier. Because this acetone works effectively as a remover to break down the solid varnish of the nail polish, the use of it was huge once. But things are pretty much different now. There are many nail polish removers available in the market that are acetone-free today.

are nail polish remover and acetone the same

Technically, acetone can be called a nail polish remover as it is the primal agent to remove polish from nails. And in that sense, you can assume them the same. But for acetone-free nail polish, there is no scope to categorize them as the same.

Are Nail Polish Remover and Acetone the Same?

The use of solvents in beauty products and the cosmetic industry is increasing. And among them, the solvent acetone is surely taking up a whole bigger space. It’s because, without this primal element, a manufacturer would not think of making a nail polish remover.

If we assume nail polish remover is a solvent and acetone is another type of solvent, we will find out some similarities. The only big difference here is that you will find other many solvents in a nail polish remover. But in the case of acetone, it is 100 percent acetone without any doubt.

  • Removes Nail Polish – The common similarity between a nail polish remover and acetone is both are able to remove nail polish. While the 100 percent acetone works faster, the nail polish remover works a little bit slower. But both assure you of removing nail polish promisingly.
  • Dehydrates Cuticles – As acetone is a very harsh solvent, it pulls out nail polish vigorously leaving dry cuticles behind. The same goes for a nail polish remover. It’s because it also carries acetone-like harsh chemicals. But there are some exceptions too.
  • Irritates Organs – Because of its harsh agents, acetone can be very irritating. It irritates the nose, eyes, and other organs as well. Some nail polish removers offer the same kind of irritation to human organs. The range of irritation might differ to some extent.
  • Easily Evaporates – If you keep acetone open at any temperature, it will show its volatile characteristics within some minutes. A nail polish remover also carries the same attributes. That’s why you need to close it up tightly in a bottle and keep it in a safe place.
  • Affects Adversely – A solvent-based product is never safe for the body. Acetone and nail polish removers are also not safe and affect adversely when you inhale them accidentally or ignorantly. It is always better to keep them away from children and deal with these solvent-based products with care.
  • Flammable – Both acetone and nail polish removers have flammable agents in them. Now you know how much awareness you should grow inside you while using them.

What Are the Difference between Acetone and Nail Polish Remover?

There have some definite differences between acetone and nail polish remover. These differences will tell you how acetone, being 100 percent acetone, is a different kind of solvent from a nail polish remover to a great extent.

Remember that, nowadays making a non-acetone nail polish remover is not an impossible task. And many nail polish removers use other kinds of agents to attenuate the harsh effect of acetone in them. However, the differences will make the concept clearer.


The ultimate difference between acetone and nail polish remover is in their definition. The former is mainly known for its flammable, evaporated, and fatty-like solvent. But the latter is an organic solvent mostly and it carries scent, oils, and other agents to minimize the harsh effect of acetone.

But some organic solvent does not at all carry any acetone. Also, they use all the vegan components for providing a safe and irritation-free service to the users. So, it depends on the nail polish remover’s ingredient list if it will carry acetone or not.


Acetone is acetone fully as it does not contain any other solvents. This works perfectly and quickly breaks the varnish of the nail polish. Many people use raw acetone to remove the polish from nails.

Conversely, a non-acetone nail polish remover comes with ethyl acetate and isopropyl alcohol. Some removers use no chemicals and only use organic elements.


From the perspective of strength, acetone is more capable. A nail polish remover can come with agents that can defeat acetone but it is almost impossible. To defeat acetone, a polish remover might have to include other harsh chemicals which only will ruin your cuticle.


In this case, a nail polish remover is a little bit time-consuming. Acetone, on the other hand, works instantly without requiring any time to set on nails. The best and at the same time worst thing about acetone is – it can even dissolve fake or acrylic nails.

But nail polish remover just wipes out the polish no matter how stubborn or dark shade the nail polish is.


Just because acetone works faster and more effectively doesn’t mean you can adopt it for any situation. Acetone is acidic in nature and if you make it work over shellac manicures and dark shade polish, then the result will be beautiful.

On the other hand, a nail polish remover works hardly on shellac manicures. Make it work on light or sensitive skin and the result will be amazing.

Adverse Skin

As these beauty products are solvent-based, they have the tendency to dry out the skin tone. Acetone is aggressive and makes the cuticles dehydrated very easily. A nail polish remover, conversely, comes with oil-based agents that nourish the cuticles properly.

In the case of acetone, you need to apply oil or moisturizer after using it. But after using a nail polish remover you don’t always have to apply moisturizer even though applying it in an excessive amount never causes any harm.

Irritating Smell

Acetone has a strong irritating agent and you will not like its strong smell. But some manufacturers apply the extraction of lavender in their nail polish removers. This smells super fresh and a spa-like scent prevails all around.

These all are the core differences and both have advantages and disadvantages in different cases. Also, none of them are neglected products.

Can You Use Acetone as Nail Polish Remover?

Yes, it has been mentioned above that acetone is traditionally a type of nail polish remover and some people still use it. The usage of acetone is decreasing day by day. It’s because this solvent is very acidic and works harshly on your sensitive cuticles.

That’s why manufacturers are manufacturing nail polish removers that have less acetone or no acetone at all. To mitigate the harshness of acetone, these removers carry agents that lower the effectiveness of acetone.

But you can use 100 percent acetone to remove the polish from your nails properly. Just apply a cuticle oil or moisturizer after using the acetone as a nail polish remover and you are good to go.

Which Is Stronger: Acetone Or Nail Polish Remover?

Acetone is very effective and worthy of removing the darkest shaded nail polish and nail manicures. But some nail polish removers take 3 to 5 minutes to penetrate through the varnish of nail polish and break down the bonds within it.

However, acetone takes ten seconds at best and does the breakdown process in a legit cool way. In this case, acetone is definitely a stronger and faster solvent than nail polish remover.

Is Nail Remover 100% Acetone?

It would not be correct if we judge the recently manufactured nail polish remover as 100 percent acetone because they are mostly not. It was earlier that people conventionally used 100 percent acetone to remove the polish from the plate surface of nails.

However, today we witnessed many manufacturers discard the use of acetone to a great extent. It’s because of their vigorous way of breaking apart and stripping nail polish leaving the cuticles utterly dehydrated behind. That’s why these manufacturers are adopting a hundred percent vegan and organic means to remove nail polish and moisturize the cuticles as well.

Final Thoughts

For a beautician or any beauty-conscious person learning about solvent-based beauty products is a bonus advantage to enhance his or her charm. Likewise, knowing the proper answer to the question “are acetone and nail polish remover the same” is like knowing how to contribute to the beautiful skill of treating the skin in the most appropriate way.

That’s why understand the depth of these solvent-based products and apply the right one to your nails. This way you can have a comfortable journey with your nails and nail polish remover.

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