What's A Nail Steamer And What Kind Of Polish Can It Remove?

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There's arguably nothing more exciting for a beauty enthusiast than getting a fresh manicure. Whether you opt for a basic manicure, a fun pattern, a glassy gel manicure, or bold acrylics, there's something undeniably refreshing about flaunting a sleek new mani. After a stressful day at work, a rough week full of drama with friends and family, or an emotional breakup, a trip to the nail salon is an excellent mood-improver — and confidence booster — as the act of self-care and pampering adds a bit of relaxation and glamour to our busy lives.


As much as we enjoy getting our nails done and admiring the immediate results, though, it's not as fun to experience chipping with time or grown-out manicures. Plus, trying to remove nail polish — especially if it's a gel formulation — can be difficult and time-consuming. Now, people are looking to nail steamers to easily handle removing nail polish at home. Here's what to know about these intriguing items.

What are nail steamers?

Nail steamers use acetone to help you remove gel nail polish and acrylic nails in a timely matter with steam. However, nail steamers don't typically work for traditional, basic nail polish — if you usually stick to more simple manicures with regular nail polish, a nail steamer isn't the product for you. If you prefer the popular, more elaborate choices like acrylics and gel manicures, nail steamers are worth considering.


When you plan on trying a trendy beauty product, safety is always a crucial factor. Some nail trends are controversial — for example, we've all seen how ultraviolet nail polish dryers have sparked serious health concerns. Regarding nail steamers, though, celebrity nail artist Julie K weighed in on the products to Refinery29. "I think as long as [your nails] don't soak much longer than necessary, they will totally be fine," the expert told the publication. "Just make sure to follow up with a heavy moisturizer ... and or cuticle oil to replace the oils lost with the acetone."

Do nail steamers really work?

So, how do you use these manicure-removing devices? Insider Beauty shared a YouTube video walking viewers through the process. The person in the video started the process by filing off the layer at the top of their nails and putting the acetone in the nail steamer. When the machine was ready, the YouTuber placed her fingers in the device, avoiding making contact with the acetone in the item. They noted that the steamer was super warm. When the machine beeped, she took her fingers out, and the steamer helped lift the gel. Following instructions, she repeated the process since not all the polish came off the first round, and it worked that second time — the steamer was able to remove the polish without damaging her nails.


Additionally, nail enthusiast @nailzbykayli shared a video on TikTok trying out a nail steamer. First, the TikTok user put the acetone in the nail steamer and heated the machine. Next, they clipped their nail extensions and filed off the polish. Finally, they put their fingers in the nail steamer, took them out when it was time, and used a tool to take off the remainder of the gel. Then, they added some cuticle oil, and their nails looked fresh and clean.

Positive and negative nail steamer reviews

Like any other highly-talked-about nail-related trend, you can find many videos of people sharing their experiences with nail steamers on TikTok if you want to see how more people feel about these machines. For instance, TikTok user @kaelizaco posted a video showing how their nail steamer was able to remove their glossy pink manicure, recommending that viewers try the device and captioning the video, "New nail steamer for the win!"


However, not everyone on TikTok has had a positive experience with nail steamers, as most nail trends have their critics on social media. For example, @cassiek25 shared a video about their negative experience with the product, writing, "Bought the Bask LA nail steamer to take off gel polish. Took over an hour and damaged my nails." A TikTok user commented, "Either you're using it wrong or you got a defective one. Mine works like a charm," to which Cassie replied, "Definitely not using it wrong. Put pure acetone in. Maybe it's defective." However, TikToker @_karmarae had all positive words to say about nail steamers in their video. They use two nail steamers instead of one so they have a device for each hand, speeding up the process.


Which nail steamers are worth buying?

Anyone who wants to buy a nail steamer to remove their gel nail polish, acrylics, or another specific manicure can find some options online. For example, the Bask LA Steam Pro is available for just below $60 at the time of writing. The highly-talked-about product has a near-perfect rating of 4.9 out of five stars with over 400 reviews. One happy reviewer wrote, "Purchased this during Black Friday last year and I've been using it ever since. I like how it makes it so easy to remove my gel polish at home and my nails never feel damaged after using it. Hands down best beauty purchase of 2022!"


Moreover, the LAFGUR Nail Polish Remover Machine Nail Steamer sells at Walmart for less than $40. The item has five stars, as the reviewers described this nail steamer as "The best!" and "Worth the price." Furthermore, the Upgraded Steam Nail Polish Remover Machine, Gel Nail Steamer with Color Cuticle Pusher Spoon Tools for Nail Gel Polish Remover is available on Amazon for less than $45. Unlike some other products, this nail steamer only works on gel manicures — not acrylics or dip nails — but it has 3.9 stars with more than 2,000 reviews.