There's something empowering about a good manicure. Not only is going to the nail salon a time to pamper yourself and reward your hard-working hands, but upgrading your digits with an ardent hue or eye-catching nail art somehow directly correlates with a better attitude. The problem, however, lies in the removal process. Acetone nail polish is fraught with fumes and toxicity, a formula that's not only harmful to your nail health and skin, but extremely unsafe to inhale. Even non-acetone nail polishes use a solvent called ethyl acetate which is highly flammable and irritating to the skin. So where does this leave those of us who don't want to expose our bodies to toxic chemicals but want to enjoy the confidence boost of a good (5-free) mani? Thanks to newcomer brand, The Sign Tribe, a rather good place.
Brand founder, Marie Vanderstichel, has worked in product development for several years and created The Sign Tribe to help find innovative answers to beauty "problems." Her first solution comes by way of Remove and Chill, the world's first nail polish-removing cream that's free of the nasties you'd find in a traditional polish remover. When I met with Vanderstichel earlier this week and she revealed the bright red tube, my jaw immediately dropped. Polish wearers know the fear of a tipped-over bottle of liquid remover all too well, and anyone within the vicinity of it is all too familiar with its noxious smell. Remove and Chill eliminates all of these pangs with more natural alternatives for the solvents you need to break down nail polish like sweet almond oil, castor oil, beeswax, and sesame seed oil. These all work to gently dissolve nail lacquer (including glitter polish!) while also nourishing the nail bed. It's also got a sweet rose scent, a welcomed replacement for the car exhaust-like smell of acetone.
The instructions say to apply a thick layer to your nail bed and to let sit one minute for every nail polish layer. After the time has passed, massage the lotion into your nail, then use a cotton pad to wipe clean.
To give Remove and Chill a true test, I grabbed my darkest bottle of polish (Essie Wicked) and applied two layers. As directed, I globbed on the lotion (perhaps a bit too thick) and let sit for two minutes. Then, rather than massaging with my fingers, I used a cotton round to rub the lotion off. Initially, I panicked, because as the cream started to lift the polish off my nails, taking on the dark purple hue, it then began to spread around my fingers as I rubbed, leaving a bit of a plum glaze on my skin. However, a quick wipe with the clean side of the cotton removed it immediately. Similarly, because of the emollient nature of the cream, the pigment of the polish did start to get trapped underneath my nail and inside the crevices of my nail bed, prompting me to use a bit more elbow grease with the cotton round. Though, when all was said and done, my nails had a nice glossy finish to them, and my skin was richly moisturized. It's skincare and polish remover intertwined, which is the most genius and practical invention I've come across in a while. In fact, when I told team Byrdie about the product, they were all enthralled.
The final takeaway: I love this product. I love how it smells, I love how travel-friendly it is, and I love that it nourishes my skin and nails in the process. It's quite shocking how well natural oils remove the darkest and most stubborn color I own. My only gripe is that it does get slightly messy at first, so you'll need a few cotton rounds at the ready to clean up the spread pigment. Another slight downside is that it doesn't remove gel manicures (you need acetone for that), though the brand tells me it's in the process of trying to find a solution for that too, so stay tuned.
Next up: Our favorite quick-drying polishes.