nail polish
Photo: Essie

Question: What can I do before applying glitter nail polish to make the removal process gentler and faster? 

Answer: We take a go-big-or-go-home approach when it comes to holiday and New Year’s Evenails—the more they resemble a disco ball, the better. But the downside of any party—be it in your home or on your hands—is the cleanup, even more so when there’s glitter involved. We asked manicurist Jessica Washick to share her best tips for removing the most stubborn sparkle.

Prep steps: 

1) Buff your nails to a shiny finish. “If you’re applying regular nail polish, you want to buff to a matte finish so the nail is more porous, which allows the polish to adhere better and last longer, but glitter is a different story. Glitter polishes are made with a glue-like formula that seals the glitter into the polish so it doesn’t just flake away while you’re wearing it—that’s why it’s so difficult to remove. A high-shine buff makes it harder for the polish to adhere and therefore easier to remove,” says Washick.

2) Don’t fight oil. Instead of removing cuticle oil with an acetone-soaked pad to dehydrate the nails before polish application, just use a paper towel to wipe it off. A little bit of oily residue will keep the glitter from bonding too strongly and protect the nail bed.

3) Swap out your regular base coat for a DIY Elmer’s Glue version. Painting glue on your nails sounds scary, but if you remember Elmer’s from arts & crafts class, you know how easily it peels off. If you mix it with a bit of water and brush it on before your polish, it’ll make the removal process painless. But, says Washick, this is a trick that works best if you want you change your manicure up every couple of days, as regular showering and hand-washing will break down the glue quickly.

4) Apply two coats of the base. “This will make removing it slightly easier because it’s creating space between the naked nail and the polish,” says Washick, who adds that it’s most effective when done in conjunction with the buffing and oiling.

Removal steps:

1) Buff to break the seal. Too much buffing can damage the nail, but you want to get the first layer off and rough up the polish a little.

2) Treat glitter like it’s gel.  “I like to break off small pieces of a cotton ball or thin, felt-like material, saturate it in nail polish remover [it doesn’t have to be acetone; try Zoya Remove 3-in-1 Formula] and place it directly on the nail. If you’re in a hurry, you can wrap your fingers in tinfoil and go in the sunlight or hold the foil-wrapped nail in the palm of your hand, as the heat will speed the process up. After three to five minutes, pull the cotton ball off your nail and the glitter should mostly be gone.”

3) Hydrate and repair. If your nails feel a little more sensitive than usual, apply a strengthening treatment coat like Essie Millionails and work cream or oil into the cuticles.

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