This nail polish claims to take off gel manicures—is it a scam?
No fingernails were harmed in the testing of this product.
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When I was younger, my mom allowed me to tag along to the nail salon with her, where I could pick out a nail polish color to wear proudly until it chipped off in a few days or, if I was lucky, a week. At an older age, I discovered gel manicures, which consist of a UV light-activated polish that hardens and lasts on the nails for about two weeks. This treatment is pricier, but worth it if you want to enjoy your manicure with far fewer chips or cracks. The only downside? You have to either head back into the salon for routine maintenance or wrap your fingernails in acetone-soaked cotton balls and aluminum foil for up to a half hour to remove the polish.
What is VanishPolish?
In a valiant effort to bypass the acetone fumes and the boredom that ensues when you’re sitting there with aluminum foil on your fingertips, unable to do much of anything, VanishPolish created a polish remover that claims to speed up the process. The brand only sells this one product and has a minimalistic website with little information about the people behind the polish’s creation or the product’s ingredient list. In fact, the FAQ page, which I read before I bought my VanishPolish, no longer exists at the time of publication. All we really know is that the VanishPolish headquarters are in Los Angeles and one 10-milliliter bottle costs $30 when you purchase directly from the site—and the proceeds must have gone exclusively into advertising on Instagram, where I first learned of the product’s existence. YouTube, too, was abuzz with videos of this product and ones just like it, such as the Vinimay Nail Gel Magic Remover and EC Magical Remover Gel.
What does VanishPolish claim?
The polish claims to “magically remove all remnants of your gel and powder manicure in just seconds” with its “superpowers.” It’s unclear what those superpowers are, though, as neither the website nor the bottle lists the ingredients. On the landing page, it states that the solution is acetone-free and made from “natural resin,” a chemical compound extracted from trees that is used as varnishes and adhesives. The brand claims that the remover “eats away” at the gel top coat and causes the gel polish to bubble up and “pop” off your nails within seconds, leaving behind your clean, natural nail.
Because I couldn’t find any other evidence of what was in VanishPolish, aside from not containing acetone, I did what anyone else would: I googled “paint remover active ingredients.” If you were to strip paint from wood, you may purchase a remover that contains a solvent called methylene chloride, which can cause the same type of bubbling effect that VanishPolish appears to in the brand’s video. But even heavy-duty paint removers are moving away from methylene chloride, as it can be hazardous to breathe in and requires careful ventilation. Those other active ingredients, like N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone and benzyl alcohol, however, remove paint in six to 12 hours by dissolving polymers instead of immediately causing the paint to bubble and crack it off.
What’s it like to use VanishPolish?
Bluntly, my experience with VanishPolish was terrible and ineffective. When I opened the bottle, I was immediately struck by the pungent smell that resembled what I could only describe as the inside of an auto body shop. After talking to some coworkers, we determined that the smell I recollected was likely that of paint thinner. It’s the kind of smell that makes you immediately want to put on a medical mask because you have only one thought: This can’t be good for me.
Once I moved past the smell and applied the product, I was surprised by the gloppy yet gritty texture. It glided onto my two-week-old gel manicure and I was careful to avoid my skin because, well, there was no ingredient list and a foul smell. I decided to approach this experiment slowly, coating one finger and watching the reaction (or lack thereof, in this case) before moving onto the next. The nails I applied the product to felt tight, like something was happening, but there was no visible change in the polish I was hoping to remove (and quickly).
Does VanishPolish work?
VanishPolish did not work even in the slightest to remove my manicure. I waited minutes for the polish to “eat away” at my gel topcoat and bright red polish, but nothing happened. In an effort to aid the product, I ran an emory board over my nail to file off the outermost layer of topcoat, which the company claimed wasn’t necessary, when there was an FAQ page with directions on its site. This method also failed. I gave up and sudsed up to make sure I got any trace of the unknown chemical off of my fingers.
That night, I went home, buffed off the outer layer of polish from all of my nails, broke out my cotton balls, acetone, and aluminum foil, and got to work. While that method is messy and also includes a putrid smell, it always works. About 10 to 20 minutes after applying the acetone, I see my polish cracking and chipping off and can toss remnants in the trash. Yes, it’s drying on my nails, but at least I know what’s in that nail polish remover (and it’s not risky when used as directed).
Should you buy VanishPolish?
Absolutely not. This is a “do as I say, not as I do” moment. Do not purchase anything that does not have a very obvious ingredient list. If you have to doubt whether or not to put a substance on or in your body, err on the side of caution. And do not purchase anything off social media without at least Googling it first to see what trusted sources have written about it.
It seems the brand is performing a disappearing act, too. The information previously available on the website, like the directions I followed, are gone. And, ironically, given that this is a review of a product we found advertised on social media, both the company’s Instagram and Facebook profiles are down. This could be because the brand was called out by customers and spectators for a lack of efficacy, with plenty of people reporting perfectly intact nails after use, and safety, with a chemist claiming that these types of removers use harmful solvents that are unsafe to apply on the body.
As of this publication, VanishPolish continues to sell the soak-off gel remover on its site, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see that, too, completely disappear soon. In the meantime, stick with trips to the nail salon or regular nail polish remover to dissolve your manicures in the safest possible way. In other words, ghost VanishPolish before it ghosts you.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.