Leave it to the internet to use craft glue to remove glitter polish, cooking spray to dry polish and a tampon to clean up dirty edges. Just when you think you’ve seen every hack there is, another one magically appears overnight that makes you think, “Huh, that could very well just work…” If you’re a DIYer or diehard hacker, you may have come across all of these hacks in your internet travels. Today, we’re putting the myths to the test as we decode which tricks are a waste of time and which are Nail It! approved.
1. Make Glow-in-the-Dark Polish with Glow Sticks
While mixing glow sticks with polish won’t cause explosions, putting this concoction on tips is a serious no-no. “None of the chemicals used in glow sticks are approved for personal care products,” explains thebeautybrains.com cofounder and cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller, who adds that risks of chemical ingestion and serious skin allergic reactions rise because fingers often touch mouths and faces. Nails will glow (think: hydrogen peroxide + diphenyl oxalate = glow), but only short-term, so polish tips with regulated glow-in-the-dark lacquers instead.
2. Dry Polish Faster with Nonstick Cooking Spray
If you don’t mind a buttery taste on tips, spritz on cooking spray to expedite lacquer dry time. “Anything that touches wet [polish] can absorb solvents and accelerate the hardening of the surface,” says Doug Schoon, president of Schoon Scientific. “Cooking spray acts like a surface treatment as it contains vegetable oils just like many nail dryers and oils do.” However, for best results, choose nail oils, which work twofold: drying tips quickly while moisturizing nails and skin.
3. Dry a Mani Instantly with Ice-Cold Water
No matter the temperature, dipping tips in H20 gives the illusion of an immediate hardened lacquer surface, but in reality, the drying process slows down as the layers below remain soft. “The surface solvents escape into the water, but the solvents underneath are trapped, like in a dome,” explains Schoon. As a result, your manicure is prone to bubbling, cracking and dings. Opt for spray-on dryers instead. They’ll be slower to cap the surface but will draw more solvents out of polish faster, keeping your polish job intact!
4. Swipe Vinegar Under Lacquer for a Longer Lasting Mani
Looking for better polish wear and adhesion? Stick with the tried-and-true solution: base coat. There’s nothing wrong with putting vinegar on tips, but there are also no benefits. “There’s nothing in vinegar [water + acidic acid] that promotes adhesion, so there’s no reason it would work,” Schoon explains. “Acidic acid doesn’t have the ability to alter the nail plate.”
5. Using Craft Glue Under Glitter Polish for Easier Removal
Don’t be fooled by low-toxicity, kid-friendly glue. If washed off immediately, the risk of skin irritation runs low, but deliberately leaving the elixir on nails isn’t wise. “The chemicals in glues can cause skin allergies and breakouts if left in contact with skin,” Schueller says. Another reason to skip glue? The water-soluble formula washes off too easily, taking glitter with it, giving you one-to-two days of polish wear at most. “It’s like your color jumps off of the nails,” explains celebrity manicurist Elaine Watson. “The glue doesn’t provide a great bond to the nail plate.” Instead, swipe on a peel-off base coat or apply a film prior to glitter application.
6. Using Petroleum Jelly to Prevent Polish Bottles from Drying Shut
Polish bottle won’t open? Simply swipe petroleum jelly around the bottle’s lip to lubricate the threads, which helps to thwart the cap drying shut. This hack actually works (and is Nail It! approved!). “Just be sure you aren’t gooping it on,” Watson warns. “Apply just a bit between your fingers, rub them together and then rub them on the threads. If you put on too much you risk contaminating your polish.”
7. Using a Tampon to Remove Toenail Polish
When it’s time to remove tootsie polish but you’re rocking an intact mani, you don’t want to mess your polished fingertips in the process. The Internet hive’s solution: A tampon dipped in remover may solve your mani conundrum. But if the thought of using what goes in your hooha on your toes offends, try nifty pens and gadgets made expressly for mess-free removal.
8. Using Top Coat as Polish Remover
Out of remover? Buy another! Though several layers of top coat will eventually rid your nails of lacquer, the process will be tedious, messy and expensive. “Top coat rewets the top layer of the polish as it’s added,” Watson explains. Think: The solvents in top coat smear the polish solvents, softening it up again. “But it would take a lot of top coat to really remove polish, and it won’t work for long because the top coat is evaporating, curing and drying as you’re trying to remove your color.
9. Cleaning Up Spilled Polish with Sugar
Unless you’re intentionally Jackson-Pollack-ing your abode, no one fancies floors covered with lacquer splashes. Follow this great tip from the Internet and throw sugar on top of wet polish to sop up as much as possible. “The solvents in nail polish don’t dissolve sugar so it will contain the spill, making it easier to sweep up the powdered mess,” Schueller explains.
10. Using your Tongue to Fix Polish Smudges
A tongue’s moisture rewets the polish’s surface while its light pressure softly moves polish around, repairing small boo-boos. But use caution when putting tongue to tip. One lick won’t send you to the ER, but repeated licks “will eventually affect your tongue and you’ll start seeing irritation,” says Schoon, who suggests using a smudge corrector as a sage alternative that helps polish flow into place–no licking required.
11. Making a Homemade Matte Top Coat
Diehard DIYers have been known to mix cornstarch and top coat to concoct matte top coat–but be warned: The results will likely be underwhelming. “Cornstarch is a good mattifying agent because of the way it disperses light, but it’s not compatible with top coat, so it’s not going to easily disperse or be soluble,” Schueller explains. “You’d need the right mix and to stir and spread it the right way.” Instead, opt for a matte top coat that’s formulated to leave behind a flawless flat sheen every time.