ASK ANA: Peel Off Base Coat – Is It Damaging?

Peel Off Base Coat

Peel-off-base-coat-nailcarehq-300ASK ANA: Peel Off Base Coat

Hello! I’ve been reading a lot of your articles and I’m so impressed with them. I have learned so much.

Being new to the nail world and after researching your website, I can’t help but wonder one thing. My favorite YouTube vlogger loves using a peel off basecoat. I read your article where you described what happens when you physically chip at your nail polish. Do these effects also happen when you peel off the base coat?

If not, then is it less damaging than using acetone both in drying and damaging aspects? I’m an absolute fan and my nails thank you a ton!

Ps. I love the idea of peel off base coats and I have been convinced that Unt is the best brand since they claim their glue-less formula to be one of a kind. I can’t seem to get it to last long though. Any tips? I’ve found a way for them to last 3+ days without chipping but I can’t stop them from just popping off in one layer. I know it’s water breaking the bonds but reducing water contact has barely fixed the popping off and frankly, it’s more embarrassing than it sounds when you’re in public and they just fall off. ~Daniela


Daniela, this is such a great question! Congratulations, you’ve won a free Bliss Kiss™ tote bag.

I wasn’t sure of the answer so I asked Doug Schoon. He was impressed enough with your question, that he will be adding it to his Q&A video membership site, Face to Face with Doug Schoon.


There are a few topics to cover with your question, so let’s start with whether the peel off base coats are damaging to the nail plate.

If people peel it from the eponychium (cuticle line) to nail tip, then they would be going against the “grain”. Any so-called grain in the nail would run across the width of the nail plate. Keratin fibers inside the nail cells lay across the width of the nail plate. This is why the nail plate typically splits across the width of the plate and not down the length. Clearly the grain doesn’t make a difference, at least when it comes to nail surface damage. However, it can matter when it comes to nail plate splitting. Splitting is usually a result of over thinning/over filing.

People with healthy nail plates may not see damage when these peel off base coats are used according to directions. However, if the nail plate is already damaged, these peelable nail coatings can worsen existing damage. If the nail plates becomes dry-appearing or small white spots develop on the surface of the plate, then I would recommend that the wearer discontinue use and/or reevaluate how they are using these products. 

These types of base coats are more likely to worsen existing nail surface damage. But it is very common that people ignore directions and do it “their way”. Then they blame the product when it doesn’t work.  This can also be a problem.

Wearers will likely notice decreased wear time. In other words, they won’t get long term wear and these base coats are likely to shorten wear time by as much as 50%.  Often those who uses these types of products are people who want to change their nail color often and doing so can also increase nail damage. Changing nail polish daily is trouble waiting to happen, and should not be done. ~Doug Schoon, Nail Structure and Product Chemistry

Better Than Acetone?

When Doug wrote his book in 1995, peel off base coats didn’t exist so he only addressed the safety of acetone. In a previous article, I address how acetone is far less drying than non-acetone formulas.

So then the new debate is whether the reversible drying effects of acetone compares to the possible surface damage of using a peel off base coat.

Should You?

Using peel off base coats becomes a personal decision based on the thickness and health of your nails. So many people have used peel off base coats with no issues.

As many of my readers know, I use myself as my own science experiments and then share the results with you. Sometimes we just have to test things and see how it works for us personally.

This is how I ended up writing Does Picking Nail Polish Damage Nails? I used my mistake of nervously picking at my polish to hopefully prevent you from making the same mistake.

If your nails start peeling more or start to feel “fuzzy”, then the peel off base coat is damaging your nail plate.


If you’re getting 3 days of wear with a peel off base coat, then you’re doing great! They are a short term solution if you want to wear a heavy, glitter bomb polish.

I think it’s reasonable to expect one to two days of wear and anything after that is a bonus.

In Conclusion

I found Doug’s response very educational, and I love that he keeps teaching me new science about nails. I’m grateful to have become friends with him.

Personally, I haven’t had a chance to try the commercial peel off base coats. Part of me is cautious because my nails are so thin. I may get brave someday.

I have used Bliss Kiss™ Simply Peel™ Latex Barrier as a peel off base coat. Since it’s latex based, I never expected it to last more than a few hours. I also did not develop it to be used as a base coat. I developed it for skin protection from cuticle removal and messy nail art. But it sure was fun testing it out!

In the mean time, I’ll continue to apply olive oil liberally before using acetone to remove my polish. When we give the acetone more oil to dissolve, then it’s less drying to our skin.

After removing your polish, apply a little of your favorite jojoba wax ester based nail oil, and your nails will feel like acetoneana-seidel-signature_72 never touched them.

For me, the big take away, is that if you are using a peel off base coat, you want to peel it off from side to side—not cuticle line to tip. This technique will help reduce the potential damage of peeling off the polish.


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