From Rags To Riches: Which Nail Varnish Remover Is Worth Its Price?

One day when looking at my nails and seeing a two week old nail varnish on them, I decided that a new colour needed to find its way on my nails. For this to happen, I would need to remove the current design. So I put on a jacket and with motivation in my heart and money in my purse I set off to the nearest shop.

Once there I notice that there are various types of nail varnish removers. In theory they should all do the same, but we've all been in the situation where you were desperate to get rid of the last remains of the glitter and .... it ... just ... would ... not ... get ... off! In the first moment, I would be tempted to believe that this is because it is probably the second cheapest remover on the block but are expensive removers really that much better?

While I pondered on this question I decided that there was only one way to find an answer: I had to try it! Thus, I bought one remover from each price class and in the end, I held three bottles in my hands.

The cheapest I found is ebelin's Nagellack-Entferner which comes with a price tag of only 0,50€ per bottle. ebelin is one of dm's brands, and so I moved on to an international brand.

The middle class has a proud representative from Maybelline Jade: the Express Nails nail varnish remover for 4,95€.

Meanwhile the top class is represented by a different animal: the Express Remover also from Maybelline. In August I wrote a review about this product here. This bottle comes at the proud price of 8,95€.

The price is not the only difference between them:
  • ebelin contains acetone, while the other two are acetone free. 
  • Both Maybelline products contain avocado oil which helps to reduce dehydration of the skin of the cuticle. 
  • You don't have to use cotton pads when it comes to the Express Remover.
While those little nit-picks might influence your choice, let's turn towards the main function of a nail varnish remover - removing nail varnish. In order to test who does it best, each remover has to undertake the same test.

Let's take a look at the first impressions ...

... I had when using the different products:

ebelinThe most notable impression is the smell. The packaging promises a "refreshing" smell, it does not really fulfill this criteria. During usage, it does not smell any different than what you would expect. It is not noticeably awful but neither very pleasant. A positive aspect is that after usage this smell does not linger.

Maybelline Jade: In this case the smell is horrible. It saddens me to write this but it honestly stinks. While most nail varnishes decide to roll along with a smell that is as neutral as you can get with varnish remover or they choose a fruity alternative, Maybelline Jade failed to do any of this. I started to pull faces during usage.

Maybelline Express Remover: The Express Remover operates on a different system. Instead of using cotton pads, you put your finger into the bottle where there are sponges soaked with varnish remover. Then you wiggle your finger until you see a result. This also means that there is almost no smell. After pulling your finger out, there may be a whiff but nothing that can't be washed away.

Now it's time to see how they perform when removing nail varnish: 


At first I started with a simple nail varnish03 Goddess of Bronze from Catrice's Brown Collection. During all tests I used a top and base coat as well.

ebelin removed the nail varnish with 2 - 3 wipes and no remains were left behind.

Meanwhile, Maybelline Jade only needed two wipes and with some fingers only one. This made for quick removal.

Best worked the Express Remover which dealt with the varnish after one simple dip and left perfectly clean nails behind.

For the next try, I decided to move on to glitter nail varnish, and thus turned to one of my dearest brands: Born Pretty.

While I love any varnish from the WHATEVER line, they are quite hard to take off - earlier this year I wore the #NO blue shade and thought it would stay there forever. This time I decided to go with the pink #NO.

Once again, I started with ebelin - in this case it took almost the same amount of wipes and rubbing to get it off. At best I needed three, every once in a while there was a worst case that needed four. However, the nail would be perfectly clean afterwards.

Maybelline Jade's performance negatively surprised me because often I needed more than three wipes until I could see a pleasing result.

The performance of the Express Remover was equal to ebelin's.

Last but hardly least comes the most brutal test known to any kind of nail varnish remover: black nail varnish with a glitter top coat. In this case, I am not talking about fine and powdery glitter but thick blobs of silver.

When using ebelin I needed two to three wipes until I decided to give up. While the black nail varnish had been removed, there were still remains from the glitter. This can be pooled off with your nails when you are bored. At the same time, I had the issue that at times cotton fiber would get hooked. This is very annoying to remove ...

Meanwhile, Maybelline Jade needed the same amount of wipes but the result was a bit smoother. Glitter remained here as well.

The Express Remover took two tries until the design was mostly removed. Even here glitter remained, which was to be expected because the reason you can remove it a bit better with the other is due to the fact that you can adjust the pressure you are using. This option is not really available here.


After comparing these three products I began to wonder which I would buy from now on. My first instinct was to go for the Express Remover - and spread across the weeks, it was often the remover I would reach to first from the four in my household.

However, when standing in the shop I began to weaver. After all it is close to 9€ ... just to remove a bit of nail varnish. In the full review I debated if that wasn't too much money but wasn't sure yet. Now I am and I feel that it is too much money, especially given that ebelin can do roughly the same for a much, MUCH cheaper price!

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