Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: Polish Remover Olympics!

*UPDATE* I no longer support Zoya. Please read my post HERE for why ZOYA is the first company on my BANNED LIST.

For quite some time, I've been using Zoya's Remove+ as my go-to polish remover. I've been in love with the pump dispenser, and the fact that it doesn't smell bad.

However, I recently acquired a 3 pack of Butter London's The Remover Collection (scented remover), as well as Julep's new Conditioning polish remover. I believe each is "3-free" and acetone free. I decided to see how they stacked up against each other.

Here's a bottle shot:

(L-R) Zoya Remove + 2oz, Zoya Remove+ 16oz, Julep Conditioning Nail Polish Remover 4oz, Butter London Lacquer Remover in Powder Room scent 2oz

For this challenge, from Butter London, I used the Powder Room fragrance. I also received Beach Bum (Pina Colada) and Nutter (Almond) but didn't want to open the seal on the bottles just to sniff them, and then have them evaporate on me before I needed to use them. This was probably wise, as I will explain shortly.

For the manicure, I was removing Pinkgasm--a glitter--so I used the Foil method. I figured this would give me a better idea of how each remover worked vs The Big Bad Glitter.

Here are my results, in a few categories:

As I mentioned, Zoya's scent is there, but not unpleasant. Julep, however, had even less of a scent. Butter London--OMG. AWFUL. Not only was it ridiculously strong, it did not smell like powder to me (although my daughter walked in the room and asked why it reeked of baby powder). It makes me REALLY glad I did not open the other 2 or I most likely would have given myself a migraine. Zoya leaves a hint of a scent that again, is not unpleasant. Butter London--I couldn't stand to have my hands near my face for at least a day.

WINNER: Julep, with Zoya a very close second.

Zoya's pump bottle has been a revolution to me. Not only is it easy to dispense, but the top twists to lock. The cap don't have a firm closure but that hasn't been an issue. The smaller bottles that you often get as a gift with purchase and large refill bottles do not have this feature, simply a screw cap.
Julep's bottle comes with a screw cap and a pump cap. In addition to the twist-to-lock feature, the lid snaps on tighter than Zoya.
Butter London only has a screw cap. It is far too easy to spill it, or oversoak your cotton ball, wasting remover.

*EDITED TO ADD* When I took photos of the bottles, Butter London tipped over and LEAKED. The cap was screwed on tightly. The smell was now so bad (I had a migraine to boot) that the bottle was removed from my room. EPIC FAIL. I will be contacting Butter London. (I got a rather form-letter response, no apologies, just a "we'll pass on the message" reply. Meh.)

Zoya's Bottle is larger than Julep's, so I think this comes down to personal preference. I can see using Julep to travel, But obviously you get more with Zoya. More on size/value to come.

WINNER: Julep (by a hair) and Zoya. The fact the cap snaps closed on Julep's bottle gives it a tiny advantage.

Here's where it comes down to the real purpose. Using the foil method, I used each remover on a nail and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
Zoya--only needed a small swipe of another cotton ball to get rid of the glitter that stuck to the nail
Julep--perfect removal!
Butter London--needed more remover and some scrubbing to get off the last of the remover.

WINNER: JULEP! I am still very happy with Zoya, however. Butter London is NOT faring well.

Zoya's Remove+ pump bottle is $9.99 for 8 oz at ($1.25/oz)
The small bottle (cap only) is $4.60 for 2 oz ($2.30/oz)
The refill bottle (cap only) is $25 for 32 oz (.78/oz)

Julep remover is $14 for 4oz at ($3.50/oz)
If you are a Julep Maven, the cost is $11.20 ($2.80/oz)
At this time, Julep does not offer a refill.

Butter London 3 pack is $19 for a total of 6 oz at ($3.17/oz)
Single bottles are available $8 for 2 oz ($4/oz)

WINNER; Zoya by a landslide!

The judges have convened and the medals awarded.

GOLD: Zoya's Remove+ for value, bottle design, scent, and refills
SILVER: Julep's remover for bottle design and scent

Congratulations to you both!

There is no medal awarded to Butter London. I feel it falls *incredibly* short from what I've come to expect from this brand. I love their base/top coats and polishes. But for a remover, no thanks. If they were to offer an unscented option, with a different dispensing system, I would re-evaluate my opinion. However I felt that as a remover itself, it was not equal to the other two.

I am glad there are so many non-acetone polishes on the market. I really couldn't stand that, and my nails are really healthier without it. In addition, although I deal with skin issues, neither of my top 2 bothered my skin.

I have not yet had the opportunity to try Deborah Lippmann's polish remover, The Stripper, which also has a pump. When I do, I will update this competition.

**While I no longer support ZOYA I do stand by this review. In the future however, I will be switching brands when I run out of Remove+**

Do you have a favorite remover? Do you prefer non-acetone remover or "3 free" to traditional polish removers?


  1. Wow! That was an incredible review! I am really thankful that you went to the trouble to review these three,even though you got a migraine from it.I hope you feel better soon,Krista :-)

    1. Thank you so much Thalie! You are so sweet--and I truly appreciate your friendship (and comments!!) Considering I normally have migraines all the time anyway, it wasn't too much of a sacrifice ;) But I was really surprised myself....just have to put the front-runners up against Deborah Lippman next time!

  2. Wow, I can't believe that Butter London's remover is that awful. I'll know to avoid it. Thanks!

    I like Zoya Remove+ because I have to use an acetone-based remover and theirs has a mild acetone formula. I have to say, though, that my favorite remover, hands down, is OPI Expert Touch. It's amazingly quick at removing polish, even layers of glitter and topcoat, and it smells great- a kinda citrus-y smell. I used it on my cousin's little girl and she actually said, "Wow, that smells really good!" I usually get a 16 oz. bottle for ~$13 on eBay.

    1. I didn't realize Zoya had acetone.....ugh I wear reading glasses and I am to the point that itty bitty print is really too small to read. Le sigh. Oh well.

      I will HAVE to give the OPI a try--thank you! I loooooove citrus! And goodness knows I'm an ebay addict ;)

  3. I'm actually surprised that you gave Zoya the gold after it won out in so many different "tests". Though I've never tried it. You forgot to mention the value of Julep's polish as an add-on, of which I got 3 last month at only $5 a pop! That makes it $1.25 an ounce ;)

    1. I know, it was really a toss-up, but for overall, I felt it did do the best, and the cost of refills made it the overall winner (for me anyway).

      I did add-on the polish remover in my box (I was SO excited) so it was a great price, but for this--and you're right, I should have clarified that--I was going on base price, no refills (yet, I've posted my review on Julep's FB page and hope they come up on it). If they come up with refills, I may just switch!

      Thank you for the tips--helps me be a better blogger ;)

      Which do you use, if you don't mind me asking ;) :O) (nosy)

    2. I've been using the Julep since I got it but I admit, I don't LOVE the oilyness of it but at the same time, my nails could use the extra moisture! I mostly use acetone polish remover because I do gel nails often and even when I'm not doing gel nails, I use a gel nail base that only comes off with pure acetone. I use Orchids Acetone- it's $2 for a 8oz bottle- can't beat that! I'm actually on the market for a new remover (non acetone) so I plan to try Zoya soon :)

    3. I did notice the oil/moisturizer but I can always use that too (I have eczema/psoriasis on my fingers grrr).

      That makes sense why you use acetone--and as I mentioned I didn't realize that Zoya may have some acetone in it (Amber's comment above). Just so you know.

      I know I could get non-acetone for cheaper but my nails are far far healthier than they ever have been, and really, the dispenser for Zoya & Julep makes it worth it!

      If you sign up for Zoya updates, they often have sales on the Remove+, and if you order over $30 you get a mini size for free (the one in my photo next to the big bottle).

  4. I am glad the Zoya did really well. My daughter loves painting nails, but can't commit to one color for more than a day unless I force her. And she loves glitter. So good for glitter is an excellent test.