Ah, glitter polish: love how it looks, hate getting it off. Even with the foil method, where you soak your fingers in acetone-covered cotton balls for a few minutes, I still find myself picking bits off with my nails, and what should be a two-minute removal turns into a half-hour ordeal that leaves my nails gouged and sad.
So I was really excited when I started noticing blog posts late last year talking about peel-off base coats that can be used for glitter manicures. It seemed like one had come out from an Asian company at one point, but quickly become unobtainable, and lo, I was sad that I’d missed my chance. This was well before OPI released their peel-off, too – you darn kids don’t know how good you have it these days, with mainstream peel-off options!
Anyway, just when I was worried that I’d missed my chance, a bit more investigation turned up an indie polish brand who had developed their own peel-off base. Everyone, meet Nail Pattern Boldness and their Glitter A-Peel base coat! Per the product description, “This is NOT a glue basecoat, this contains the usual solvents and plasticizers found in all nail polish. This is also NOT three-free – it does contain Toluene.” So Glitter A-Peel is a different animal than the usual PVA (glue) base coats you’ll see homemade on Pinterest or for sale from brands like OPI.
I’ve used this base coat a handful of times now, and though it had a bit of a learning curve, I think I’ve finally figured out the winning formula for an effortless glitter removal. The trick for me has been to always use two coats of Glitter A-Peel, preferably thick-ish coats, as the base-est of my base coats (top it with any other base coat you use, like a ridge filler, etc) and to make sure I cover all of my nail and none of my cuticle (if you get it on your cuticle, it will not peel off easily…until you assume you’re safe, at which point it will snag and take half your manicure with it). Top with polish and top coat as you normally would.
Now, don’t expect a peel-off base coat to give you a lasting manicure. By definition, these bases keep polish from sticking tenaciously to the nail, which means it will chip and it will probably chip in large chunks. I haven’t had the experience with Glitter A-Peel that some bloggers report with other peel-off base coats, where an entire nail’s worth of polish pops off at once, but the chips for me are definitely more substantial chunks than they are tiny chips. I got about three days out of the LA Girl polish pictured above before the chips became noticeably large, which based on reviews I’ve read of peel-off base coats, is pretty damn good for a peel-off manicure.
Actually peeling off a manicure is ridiculously fun for me, when it goes right and things come off easily (as a kid, I used to beg my mom to buy me peel-off kiddie nail polish just so I could put it on and immediately peel it off). The trick to that part, I’ve found, is to believe Nail Pattern Boldness’s recommendation and resist the urge to use your fingernails to peel off the polish. Yes, you can get it started that way, but a) it will be messier and b) you risk breaking or chipping your nail itself. And anyway, you’ll be more likely to get a solid one-piece peel with something that can reach more than a millimeter or so under the polish. Here’s a demonstration of that.
In this peel that I started with my opposite hand index finger, the peel started ok, but because my fingernail is short and can’t go far, the polish fractured quickly into multiple pieces. They all peeled off (even the chunk at the bottom of my nail did, just separately), but not in a satisfying way.
Here, on the other hand, is what happened when I started the peel with an orange stick.
Seriously, popping it off in one piece (or almost one piece) is so much more viscerally satisfying! Here’s what the leavings of all ten nails looked like.
The whole thing took about ten minutes, including pausing to take these pictures, and I didn’t have to touch a single drop of acetone to clean up around the edges (though you may if you find you’ve applied polish to areas of your nail that you missed hitting with the base coat).
If you’re in the market for a peel-off base coat, I would definitely recommend Nail Pattern Boldness’s take on it!