How to Remove Glitter Nail Polish Without a Hassle

How to Remove Glitter Nail Polish Without a Hassle

Who doesn’t love going full-out glam for special occasions or just when you're feeling a little *extra*? Glitter is the best for glamming out, but the removal process kind of sucks. If one too many shredded cotton swabs has you losing your mind and swearing off recommending glitter to a client again, hang tight. We’re letting you know all the tips and tricks to remove glitter nail polish the easy way. Keep these in your arsenal next time your client comes in asking for glitter nail polish, ready for a new look. 

Don’t Dehydrate

Before applying gel or acrylic, a key step is to dehydrate the nails to strip the nail of its natural oils so the polish sticks better. The purpose of this is to strip away the oil barrier between the nail and the product. 

But when polishing with glitter, a little bit of oily residue will keep the glitter nail polish from bonding too strongly. Maintaining the oil barrier will also help protect the nail bed from getting scratched from the glitter. 

Use Durable Wipes Instead of Cotton Balls

As opposed to fragile cotton, durable wipes have the strength to hold together when getting down to the nitty-gritty of glitter removal. Removing glitter polish with a regular cotton ball will end up shredding the cotton, and you’ll find yourself going through a lot of cotton. Opting for a durable wipe instead will save you time, hassle, and inventory waste. 

Remove Glitter Like Gel

Glitter is tricky—almost as tricky as gel nail polish and just as hard to remove. If you don’t feel like dealing with scratching the glitter off your client’s nails one at a time, simply treat it like you’re removing gel polish. Soak cotton swabs in Pure acetone and wrap them with aluminum foil and just let them sit on the nails to break down. 

Buff the Nail Up

Buffing the nail to a matte finish before polishing allows the gel, acrylic, or whatever polish to adhere better to the nail and last longer because the nail is more porous. But glitter nail polishes are made with a glue-like formula that seals the glitter into the polish itself, so the glitter doesn’t flake off. This is why it’s so difficult to remove. It’s designed to stay put! 

Instead of buffing the nails to matte, buff the nails to a high shine. This will make it harder for the polish to adhere and, therefore, easier to remove. 

Buff it Out

Buffing the glitter nail polish a bit before applying the acetone to scrape it off will help break down the polish and make it more porous—allowing the acetone remover to soak in better and remove it with ease. This is a way of sort of “breaking the seal” and roughing up the polish a bit, making removal easier. 

Add a Topcoat

This trick might surprise you, but a life hack for removing glitter polish is to add a top coat as Step 1 in the removal process. Weird, right? See, the trick here is to not let that top coat dry and immediately apply your acetone-soaked cotton balls. Whether you have time to let the client sit with the acetone or you are getting to work at scraping it off, the acetone will adhere to the wet top coat and more easily break down the glitter polish underneath. 

Best Practices for Polishing with Glitter

Now that we’ve figured out how to remove nail polish more easily, there are some ways you can go about polishing with glitter in the first place that will make the take-off more simple. 

Do Two Base Coats

The base coat will be your saving grace when it comes to glitter polish removal time. Along with keeping the nail’s natural oils on, adding two coats of base polish will add even more space between the nail and the polish. 

If your client is coming in for an event-specific manicure and wants glitter glam just for Fourth of July Weekend and plans to come in for a new look in a couple of days, you could try this DIY base coat method: 

School Glue Base Coat Mixture 

Ok, we’ll be honest, painting school glue on nails sounds a little sketchy, but if you remember doing arts and crafts in grade school, you know how easily it peels off your nails and fingers. Mix the glue with a bit of water and brush it on the nails before adding the glitter nail polish. Then, when your client shows up with her festive nails and is ready for something new -- removal will be quick and easy since you can just peel it right off. 

Don’t depend on this method for a long-lasting manicure because exposure to water will quickly break the glue down, and the nail polish will peel off on its own after a couple of days. Reserve this method for photoshoots and special events when your client is in need of a stellar look when durability isn’t a part of the equation. 

Slow and Steady

If your client wants full-on glitter nails and not just some sprinkles of glitter here and there, you will either have to use a glitter-dense polish or take your time when applying the polish to get it as glittery as possible. You’ll be tempted to apply the glitter nail polish in thick layers and with multiple coats. But, the trick here is to keep each polish application as thin as possible and let it dry between coats. 

Use a Sponge

This trick will save you time and sanity. Using a sponge to apply the glitter nail polish will ensure an even distribution of glitter color without being clumpy, goopy, or too thick. Follow these steps to apply glitter nail polish with a sponge. 

Step 1: Apply the base coat as usual. 

Step 2: Line the skin surrounding the nail with liquid latex.

Step 3: Paint the chosen glitter polish to the corner of a makeup sponge. 

Step 4: Dab the sponge onto your nail. The sponge will absorb a lot of the polish, so you’re really just dabbing the nail with glitter - eliminating the goop and just adding the gorgeous. 

Step 5: Peel off the liquid latex. 

Step 6: Add a top coat to seal it and make the nails smooth.  

Loose Glitter

Instead of painting with glitter polish, you can use loose glitter on top of regular polish or a gel manicure. This is an awesome option to offer because you and your client can get creative with the type of glitter colors they want. Having different options of loose glitter to choose from means you can mix and match color combos. 

How to Apply Loose Glitter

Adding loose glitter to a gel manicure is super simple and may be a quicker route to take rather than waiting for each coat of glitter nail polish to dry. Follow these steps to apply loose nail glitter to a gel manicure.

Step 1: Paint Gel Nails as Usual and cure for 1-2 minutes. 

Step 2: Apply a thin layer of gel polish and while still tacky, pour the loose glitter on the nail. Pat it down gently and cure for 3-4 minutes. 

Step 3: Apply a thick top coat to ensure all the gel polish is encased. This step is different from how you’d deal with regular gel polish without glitter since you’d usually want to do a thin top coat to seal it. But when dealing with thick pieces of glitter, it takes a little extra to properly cover it all up, so you're not left with rough, rigid nails. 

In Conclusion

Glitter nail polish removal can be a pain, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving your client what they want. Keep these tips and tricks in mind before you prep the nail and when it’s time to remove it to make your job so much easier! 


  1. How to Easily Remove Glitter Nail Polish | Harper’s Bazaar
  2. 3 Simple Steps to Remove Glitter Nail Polish | BYRDIE  
  3. This Genius Trick Makes Putting On Glitter Nail Polish So Much Easier | GLAMOUR