This is a legacy post that I’ve given a facelift because who doesn’t want to save money on manicure supplies? Opinions are the same, but is formatted and edited for easier reading and flow.
If you’ve ever gotten a gel polish manicure before, either salon or DIY, you know the final step consists of saturating a pad with gel nail cleanser and wiping off the tacky residue from the newly-cured nail surface. If you’ve done it in a salon, it might be in a nondescript bottle just like the lotions or scrubs may be. At home, it might be part of your gel starter kit. This is often the same solution used to clean the nail before the gel primer is applied.
Beyond the Starter Kit
Eventually, you’ll run out of supplies in your starter kit. For me, the first thing to go was the gel nail cleanser from my Sensationail starter kit (which I am a big fan of and highly recommend), and it happened in the middle of cleaning up. I looked at the ingredients and found that it was just a solution of isopropyl alcohol and acetone. Cool!
I had isopropyl alcohol (91%) in my bathroom, I’ll grab it. I did, it worked, my manicure was awesome and was unaffected. It was shiny, wore beautifully, and was everything it should have been. This wasn’t even an instance of, “let me find a thrifty solution,” so much as, “Oh darn, I’m mid-manicure and can’t finish.”
For a while, I saw a handful of posts on various gel brands’ Facebook pages complaining of application issues that were ultimately user error due to lack of thorough cleaning of the nail plate before application. Some admitted to simply using isopropyl alcohol and or acetone. The brands uniformly cried out, “NO! Don’t do it! You’ll ruin your mani and be sad forever.”
One brand (and I will not call them out because I love their products) even suggested that acetone was an oil-based product that would leave residue that was the cause. I couldn’t help it, I called them out on that. Whoever was working the Social Media Machine that day needed to be schooled.
In all Fairness
That said, it is of course understandable that a brand wants to promote their product. I won’t say they’re bad because of that – they aren’t. They’re out to make money, and I won’t begrudge them of that, but I won’t be happy (and you shouldn’t, either) when they make ridiculous claims that are (easily!) verifiably false. It is silly to say the two primary ingredients of your product are the ones causing the issue.
Instead, they could say, “We developed the application product with <insert branded gel cleanser here> and suggest using it for best results. We haven’t verified other methods.”
The Bottom Line
When you run out of your gel nail cleanser, do yourself a favor: don’t bother with the expensive branded options that have dye in them to make them look, “prettier.” Buy some isopropyl alcohol unless you want to support a specific brand. My local Walgreens, for example, carries 32fl oz of 91% Isopropyl Alcohol for roughly $3-4. My favorite method is to buy alcohol prep swipes.