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The History of Nail Polish Remover

While nail polish has surprisingly ancient origins, nail polish remover wasn’t invented until the early 1900s. Credit for the invention of nail polish remover is generally shared among the five different people who were involved in the creation of the first two nail polish removers. In 1917, Northam Warren introduced the first modern colored nail polish, which he created by adapting automobile paint finish. It was effective and long-lasting, but difficult to remove. To address this new problem, Warren developed an acetone-based nail polish remover. It was released in 1928. Around the same time, Charles Revson, Joseph Revson, and Charles Lachman recruited Michelle Menard to develop a different acetone-based nail polish remover. (Notably, Menard served as the brains behind the project.) Their version of nail polish remover debuted around 1932. Today, acetone-based nail polish remover is still available, but different brands use different formulas. In general, nail polish removers can contain anywhere from 30% - 60% acetone. While these formulations are effective, they are also harsh on the user’s skin and nails. Acetone-free nail polish removers are less harsh and have gained popularity in the last few decades. Some even have nourishing ingredients added to help the formula be as gentle on skin and nails as possible. As nail polish has only become more popular since it was invented, nail polish remover is now considered a staple product for anyone who paints their nails regularly and can be found in most stores.

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