Q&A

Is there any difference between acetone sold by beauty suppliers and that found at the hardware store?

Q.

Recently I was told by a product representative that there was a difference between acetone purchased at a hardware store and acetone purchased at a beauty supply store. He explained that “industrial” acetone from a hardware store contains a carcinogen that attaches itself permanently to the liver. When I mentioned this to another representative, she said she had never heard of such a thing and said she thought “100% acetone was 100% acetone.” Can you shed some light? My school encouraged us to buy acetone at the hardware store because of the lower cost.

A.

Acetone is not a carcinogen; it is the safest solvent technicians use, next to water. And acetone is acetone, regardless of where you purchase it. There are different grades of acetone; the cheaper grades contain oily impurities that can remain on the nail and cause product to lift.

A disadvantage of industrial acetone is that it is more drying than cosmetic preparations because it does not contain any lubricants. I advise my patients to use acetone-free nail polish removers instead. These are less drying to the nail.

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