DIY Nail Polish Remover with Grapefruit, Orange & Lemon Oils - Dr. Axe

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DIY Nail Polish Remover with Grapefruit, Orange & Lemon Oils


DIY nail polish remover - Dr. Axe

Wearing nail polish can be a great way to maintain good-looking toenails and fingernails. And who doesn’t love a relaxing manicure and pedicure? But if you choose to wear nail polish, consider the chemicals that come with it, especially the common chemicals used to remove the nail polish. Nail polish remover is definitely a quick and easy way to get the polish off of your nails, but is conventional nail polish remover safe? The answer is pretty simple: No.

Conventional Nail Polish Remover

A lot of nail polish removers contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene and phthalates. These chemicals have long been found in conventional nail polish remover and may cause issues such as cancer, asthma, and even problems with the reproductive system. It’s no wonder the smell of a nail salon is so intense. And, of course, inhaling those chemicals can affect you too.

Another ingredient that is very common in nail polish remover is acetone. Acetone is dangerous because it is flammable and is powerful enough to dissolve plastic. Specifically, shares some important facts that you should know: “Isopropyl acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and n-methyl-pyrrolidone, are commonly used as the solvent in nail polish removers. Evidence suggests that these chemicals may cause reproductive harm and organ toxicity.” (1

OK — enough said. As you know, I am a big advocate of label reading and that goes for all products in and around your body and environment. If you are uncertain, you can learn more about the safety of nail polish remover products on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website. (2

So, how do you make your own nail polish remover? It’s easy with my DIY nail polish remover recipe. Plus you can be sure the ingredients are nontoxic.


How to Make Your Own DIY Nail Polish Remover

First, start by pouring one-third cup of organic apple cider vinegar into a small bowl. Apple cider vinegar is great for may reasons. It’s antibacterial and anti-fungal, which helps keep the nail area free from bacterial growth.

Next, add the essential oils. Grapefruit, sweet orange and lemon oils are all acidic. It’s the acid that helps remove the fingernail polish; however, they contain other attributes as well. Grapefruit essential oil is a natural antimicrobial as is sweet orange essential oil. Lemon essential oil is great too since it adds to the prevention of bacteria while offering nourishing vitamin C to the skin. Lemon essential oil contains d-limonene, which is an antioxidant that helps keep the nails healthy while removing the polish.

Lastly, add the rubbing alcohol and blend all ingredients well. The rubbing alcohol is a natural substance made up of ethanol or ethyl alcohol, but it should only be used topically. 

How to Use DIY Nail Polish Remover

Now that you have made your DIY fingernail polish remover, it’s time try it. Soak a cotton ball in the solution, then begin rubbing it on the nails. It may take a bit longer than the chemical-laden version, but with patience, you can have a healthy approach to fingernail polish removal. You can also dip the nails into the solution for about 20 seconds, then use a cotton ball to wipe clean.

Once you are done, wash your hands with warm water and a gentle soap, then apply hand moisturizer on your hands and fingernails since the acidity can dry them out a bit. You can also use coconut oil. Store the remaining product in a small bottle or container.

Taking the time to make this DIY nail polish remover can make a big difference in the health of your nails and the skin that surrounds them. You can also try making my DIY Nail Polish recipe with all-natural ingredients.

[webinarCta web=”eot”]

DIY Nail Polish Remover with Grapefruit, Orange & Lemon Oils

Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 1/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar
  • 3 drops of grapefruit essential oil
  • 3 drops of sweet orange essential oil
  • 7 drops of lemon essential oil
  • ⅓ cup rubbing alcohol


  1. Pour the apple cider vinegar into a small bowl.
  2. Add the essential oils and rubbing alcohol.
  3. Blend well.
  4. Store in a small bottle or container.

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  1. Estelle L Bonnet on

    Essential oils are not acidic as the article states. The acid from citrus fruits comes from the juice of the fruit. Citrus essential oils are cold pressed from the peel of the fruit and therefore have no acid. Doesn’t Dr. Axe teach an essential oil course now? I was surprised to find this misinformation.

  2. Corinna on

    I just looked at the recipe for the non toxic nail polish and wonder if this remover is for the non toxic natural nail polish or for regular toxic nail polish. I am not even sure if a remover for the non toxic diy nail polish is necessary as it consists of natural oils.

  3. Polish Perfect on

    The availability of organic or non-toxic nail products is an amazing improvement. We all want to avoid toxic products and having an option in the market gives us a healthier option. I like post like this because I get to learn new ways to keep my nails healthier with natural products/ ingredients.


    Please put these items in a glass container. The citrus oils can eat away at the plastic and add toxins to the ‘natural’ nail polish remover.

  5. Mickey on

    Unfortunately, this did not work for me at all :(

    The color on my nails was natural, a very light color, and only one coat of the nail polish.

  6. Cheryl Borkowski on

    I found it very hard to use, so I pitched it. I put the oils in the regular remover, and it smelled better, but I was still having problems! It must have been the non-toxic nail polish I had on. Maybe the non-toxic nail polish is much harder to remove.

  7. JoyB on

    Will try this, but would substitute vodka or some other clear grain alcohol for rubbing alcohol. From other things I’ve read Rubbing alcohol still not good to use.

  8. MaryAnn on

    Very confusing !!!
    Doesn’t “Nail Polish” it’s self contain Toxic Ingredients?!?
    So, why then would you post a “Safe Way” to remove Toxic Nail Polish???
    Shouldn’t you be posting “Non Use of Nail Polish” as a Healthy Lifestyle???
    Do you enjoy the majority of your posting ?

    • Janine on

      There are tons of more natural less toxic nail polishes out there. I threw away all my really bad toxic ones, and only buy Zoya brand nail polishes now. They are free of 10 toxic ingredients. Pacifica is also another good brand if you are looking for less toxic nail polish.

      • Marty on

        I enjoy Pacifica nail poloish as well – so glad for a good way to remove that actually may detoxify during the process if I briefly soak my toes as well!

    • Catherine on

      Many people are not ready/willing to give up their life style for health but each chemical laden product one can remove from their life helps. Also they also have a recipe for natural nourishing nail polish now. :)

    • Randa Slater on

      He also has recipes for non toxic polish on this site. Besides that, research shows, adding any healthy, all natural things to your life (food, cleaning, personal care, etc) is better than none. This isn’t an all or nothing way of life. Incorporating small changes can, and will, make a significant impact on your life and health.

  9. evelyn on

    I’ve enjoyed reading a few of your DIY articials. Quick question, how long will the nail polish remover last in a bottle? Should it be a glass bottle because its acidic?

    Looking forward to reading more of your articials.
    Thank you


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