Notes on Essence Peel-Off Base Coat and how to DIY it

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How to cite: Wong M. Notes on Essence Peel-Off Base Coat and how to DIY it. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. August 21, 2012. Accessed April 23, 2024.

You may have heard that Essence’s new Peel-Off Base Coat is awesome for hard-to-remove need-to-break-out-the-foil polishes – it takes 10 minutes to dry, but that’s nothing compared to the pain and dry wrinkly fingers of glitter removal. For those of you who don’t have access to Essence, or simply can’t find it yet despite going to Target 3 times in the past week (i.e. me), there is a solution!

A lot of reviews of the Peel Off Base Coat have noted that it’s stringy and white, like PVA glue. And for good reason… check out the ingredients:

Polyvinyl acetate emulsion – PVA is an adhesive polymer which is usually used as an emulsion in water.

Water – you know what that is!

Ethylhexylglycerin and phenoxyethanol – these two ingredients are often used together as a preservative system for preventing bacteria and mould from growing in water-based cosmetics. They’re typically used at a concentration of under 1%.

So the composition is almost identical to PVA glue (which is a PVA emulsion in water), with the addition of preservatives!

Alanna from Pretty Purple Polish has tested using PVA glue out here with a handy set of step-by-step images – I also tested some “white craft glue” out under some glitter. Instead of waiting to peel it off at home like a normal person, I peeled it off with my fingers on the train. Here’s the result:

It peels off incredibly easily, in big flakes. Unlike with a normal basecoat, my nails didn’t feel dry or rough afterwards – it just separates smoothly with not much force at all.

A few things to note

– To thin out Essence Peel Off Base Coat or your DIY PVA base, don’t use nail polish thinner. As well as being expensive, most polish thinners are made of solvents that aren’t compatible with water emulsions and it’ll probably separate. The best thinner for PVA? Water! (And if you want to experiment, a tiny bit of dishwashing liquid is often used to thin PVA for spray guns.)

– Let the PVA dry (i.e. go clear) before you put polish on top – it shrinks significantly as the water evaporates. You don’t want a manicure made of lumpy.

– Be careful not to get it on your skin as well as the nail – a little stray tab of PVA on your skin can be a “handle” for the rest of the polish to peel. And it will peel off in one massive sheet.

– Clean-up with acetone won’t work well, especially if the glue is dry. Pulling at it will make the polish lift off. So far the best thing I’ve found for getting rid of stray dry bits is manicure scissors.

– If you get it on a brush, use warm/hot water to soak it off, not nail polish remover. Nail polish remover just makes it go crusty.

Overall, I think this is a genius idea, and frankly I’m surprised it took this long! I take my hat off to whoever saw how easily PVA glue peels off skin and went “Hmmm….”. And you bet I’ll continue stalking ALL OF THE TARGETS until I get my hands on the real thing.

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60 thoughts on “Notes on Essence Peel-Off Base Coat and how to DIY it”

    • I’m so lucky they released their Peel Off coat right before I had (“had” – ha! Best obligation ever!) to swatch 6 gorgeous glitterbombs! I’m pretty much going to wear glitter all the time now…

    • This is from the Ready for Boarding collection – I *think* it’s exclusive to Target, but that didn’t stop me from going to Priceline World Square, Broadway and Westfield in the hopes of grabbing one of these (though I obviously failed).

      It should work with acrylics, and even Shellac, since PVA doesn’t bond well with non-porous plastic – great idea! But it might peel off pretty quick, and you’d have to be gentle when peeling them off so you don’t damage your acrylics.

    • I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone’s tried it for long enough to tell yet. I’m loving my current mani and I wash my hair everyday and do the dishes by hand, so we’ll see how long it lasts! 😉

  1. Thank you!! I am so excited about this! I posted about it last night on my blog and linked to Alanna’s post, but I wanted to thank you personally for figuring it out. This is amazing!

    • It’s hard to say, because different brands of PVA glue have different amounts of water already mixed in. I’ve been using a really old bottle of glue that’s the texture of snot, and that works fine but it’s a bit difficult to apply. I’d recommend mixing a drop of your PVA glue with a few drops of water on a piece of foil until it’s the consistency of thick-ish creme polish to give you an idea of the ratio before mixing a big bottle.

  2. I tried the DIY last nite,after I saw My Lucid Bubble’s post on DIYing the Essence POBC. I wear acrylics,and I had no trouble at all. My acrylics were not affected.This method of removal is so much better than the foil method,because with the foil method you can actually soak off part of your acrylics.

  3. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing this info.
    I saw this peel off and asked for a friend to get this for me, but no luck so far. But I will def try the PVA! 😀

  4. @Agnieszka – I speak only truth 😛

    @LittleMonsterx14 – 🙂 Try it out!

    @thalie – So good to hear that it works for acrylics – I’ll let my acrylic-wearing friend know ASAP 😉

    @Natalie – I’ve had no luck finding it either – necessity is the mother of invention 😉

  5. Thanks for doing the comparison of ingredients. I’ve tried the glue-method already and it’s so much better. So I was curious about the peel off base and bought it. But I haven’t had the time yet to play with and compare it with glue, as I’m also a kind of science/polish-freek, haha.

  6. What I forgot: I tried removing the gluebase manicure by soaking the nail in warm water first. My nails were a bit flaky after removing, but I’m not sure if it was from the nails or some glue. Next time I’ll try without soaking (and with the peel off-base, PLAY TIME!!)

    • Hurray for polish-loving scientists! 🙂 I’ve found that the polish tends to lift off the nail during long hot showers and hair washing, but magically it doesn’t chip and if I press it down again afterwards it sticks back on. I’ll be trying out leaving a gap at the edge and using basecoat underneath to see if it makes a difference. Is it lame that we’re so excited about experimenting with our nails? 😛

  7. Had to try it out, worked wonderfully!
    Afterwards it hit me, maybe it would work as a base for hlographic polishes (such as Make up stores and Nfu Oh’s that require that special base) and guess what! It did! You’ve now saved me loads of money 😉

  8. Such a great post you have here. 😉

    I finally got my hot little hands on the Essence polish after searching high and low (and luckily Twitterverse came to my rescue)…Trialling it out now to check out the wearability and then I will give removal a go. 😛

    • I’ve found wearability to be pretty good – 4-5 days before serious chipping! Ease of removal seems to vary, a few things that seem to make removal harder are not waiting for the base coat to dry completely before adding polish, and using only a very thin coat.

  9. I love you.

    The distributors for my country changed, and they were lax about importing Essence anyway, so that collection never made it to Serbia.


    Let me say that again: I love you 😀 .

  10. Perfect post, and thanks for the info on composition. I don’t have access to Essence and the peel-off base is sold out in many online shops, so now I know what to use :-))

  11. I just got my bottle and it really peels off amazingly easy, you need to apply a generous layer though. also, the only downside — it will fall off if you are exposed to water (bath, spa, pool), but otherwise – 5 starts. I was scared that it’s so cheap and was afraid it’s dangerous chemicals, but glad to discover it is not!

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