The Safe and Effective Use of Acetone in Nail Prep Routines

In our world of nail care, acetone often gets a bad reputation, surrounded by myths and misconceptions. However, understanding its true nature and effects can demystify its role in nail prep. Let's explore the truth about acetone, drawing insights from nail expert Doug Schoon.

Understanding Acetone

Acetone is a natural compound found in low concentrations in our bodies. Its primary role in nail prep/care is as a dehydrator, removing moisture from the nail plate's surface temporarily. This quality is essential for preparing nails for treatments like polish or artificial nails, ensuring better adhesion and longevity of the nail product.

Acetone and Water

Acetone's relation to water is key to understand as this is why it is effective but also what causes the confusion. Both water and acetone share a unique characteristic: they dissolve in each other, adhering to the principle "Like dissolves like." While both can be absorbed into the nail plate, acetone evaporates so much faster, preventing any accumulation. This extreme evaporation ensures that any dehydration is temporary and reversible, making acetone a great choice for nail prep. That is why you will find that almost all brands primers/dehydrators or whatever they recommend to prep nail will contain acetone in some form and very often it is the first ingredient listed meaning it is the most prominent.

Dehydration vs. Damage

Dehydration of the entire nail plate is different from just removing surface water and oil. If a dehydrated nail plate is exposed to water, the lost surface water is quickly replaced, rehydrating the layers and diminishing white spots. This contradicts the belief that nails are permanently dried out by acetone.

Temporary Dehydration

When solvents like acetone, rubbing alcohol, or ethyl ether are used on the nail plate, they create a mixture with water present in the nail. This mixture leads to the evaporation of some water, resulting in temporary dehydration of the nail plate's surface. However, this dehydration is not permanent or damaging. The nail plate rehydrates relatively quickly – typically within 30 to 40 minutes, though it may vary from person to person. A key difference between water and solvents like acetone is their interaction with oil-soluble substances in the nail plate. Solvents can dissolve and remove these oils from the surface, contributing to the dry appearance, but the impact is predominantly on water loss rather than oil.

Safe Usage

When used as directed, acetone is a safe and effective tool in nail care. Its ability to temporarily dehydrate the nail plate without causing long-term damage is invaluable in professional nail treatments. Acetone's role in nail prep routines is both safe and efficacious. By understanding its properties and correct usage, nail professionals can continue to rely on acetone for optimal nail care results.

For more detailed information on acetone and its use in nail care we highly recommend you visit the Nail Knowledge website and  Does Acetone Affect the Natural Nail.