How to Remove Glitter Nail Polish Without Stripping Your Nails: 3 Steps

glitter nail polish manicure

@oliveandjune/Design by Cristina Cianci

We love the look of a chic glitter manicure just as much as the next person. But when it comes time to actually remove your favorite glitter polish, it's a different story. The heterogeneous texture of glitter polish makes it significantly more difficult to remove than regular nail lacquer, which means you can accidentally damage your nails when you're trying to remove those stubborn flecks of glitter.

Thanks to how commonly difficult it is to remove glitter nail polish, we thought it’d be helpful to chat with a nail expert for their tips on taking it off. So ahead, we chatted with Olive & June’s founder, Sarah Gibson Tuttle. After all, who better to ask than someone who formulates polish (including glitter polish) for a living?

Keep reading for Tuttle’s step-by-step approach to removing glitter nail polish—all without stripping your nails in the process. 

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Start With Topcoat

Paint fresh top coat

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It sounds counter intuitive, but according to Tuttle, the best trick to remove glitter nail polish is to actually start by adding a fresh layer of any non-glitter shade on top of it. Keep reading to find out why.

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While the Topcoat Is Still Wet, Use Nail Polish Remover

Dip into nail polish remover

Olive & June

Don’t wait for your new coat to dry. Instead, Tuttle says to use nail polish remover—whether via Olive & June’s Polish Remover Pot or a soaked cotton ball—to start the removal process. The tacky topcoat will slightly stick to the glitter, so when the polish remover dissolves the polish, it will take the glitter along with it. 

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Gently Buff Away Any Remaining Glitter

Buff nails

Olive & June

While this is undoubtedly the most gentle method, Tuttle admits that some glitter may still remain and, as such, light buffing may still be necessary. The trick is to not use anything too coarse. 

Finish with a final swab of polish remover. Once all glitter is removed, swipe one last coat of remover across your nails. Now that they’re totally clean, wash your hands, dry them off, apply cuticle oil, and let it soak in. If you plan to immediately re-paint your nails, just be sure to dip a nail brush into the remover so that you can rinse away any oil from your nail plate, as it will hinder polish from firmly adhering to the nail.

“When painting with a glitter nail polish shade (like Olive & June’s Obvi and Exclamation Point), paint in thin coats and wait five to 10 minutes in between,” she says. “If you try to fully cover the nail with glitter in one coat, it'll be too thick and make it harder to remove.”

Tools to Help Make Glitter Removal Easier Than Ever

Olive & June Nail Polish Remover Pot
Olive & June Mani Polish Remover Pot $8
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Sure, nail polish remover and a cotton swab can remove stubborn glitter nail polish eventually, but this spongey remover set-up will help get the job done in record time. The pre-soaked pot offers a unique texture to gently scrub away polish, just keep in mind that what's removed stays in the pot, so you might want to buy one and use it solely for glitter polishes—not to mention solely for yourself. After all, no matter how clean your nails are, you don't always know about other people's situations.

Revlon Nail Buffer
Revlon Shape 'N' Buff File & Buffer $3.49
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Not only will this nail buffer help make glitter removal a cinch, it will also provide you with the tools to file and shape your nails.

Tweezerman Nail Rescue Kit
Tweezerman Mini Nail Rescue Kit $23
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Prefer to have a set of nail tools as opposed to a single file with multiple uses? This miniature set includes a mini cuticle and hangnail snipper, mini cuticle pusher and nail cleaner, a mini nail file, and mini clippers. Where the hangnail snipper, nail file, and clippers are great to have in general, it's the cuticle pusher and nail cleaner that can come in handy when it comes to stubborn glitter polish. The contoured silhouette of the tool makes it useful in gentle scraping away any super-stuck chunks of glitter. Just remember: Be gentle!

Peel-Off Base Coat
UNT Ready For Takeoff Peelable Base Coat $14.96
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If having to put extra effort into removing glitter nail polish sounds hellish to you, know that you have another option. Allow us to introduce you to peel-off base coat. This one by UNT has nearly 5,000 glowing reviews on Amazon. While it makes removing stubborn glitter polishes a lot easier, keep in mind that it also tends to cut down on how long your mani will last, as it's more prone to peel off. That said, it's great for folks who like to change their nails every few days.

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