Troubleshooting PVA peel off base coat

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How to cite: Wong M. Troubleshooting PVA peel off base coat. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. November 12, 2012. Accessed June 22, 2024.
A lot of people have asked me questions about Essence/PVA base coat since my original post on it – I’ve gathered here some of the most common questions and some solutions that seem to work, after some trial and error. Some of the solutions weren’t thought up by me, but by clever ladies who’ve contacted me on Twitter, or are part of the awesome Aussie Nails Facebook group – thank you! 🙂 If your question hasn’t been answered here, please let me know (comments, Twitter, Instagram, email).

Help! It won’t peel off!

This is the most common problem, and it tends to happen more with girls who have non-oily nails. There are a few things you can try:

– Make sure the polish on top of the peel-off base is quite thick. I’ve only had the base refuse to come off as a big flake once, when I used a sparse coat of glitter over a thin creme. A thicker polish “lasagna” will give you better leverage to break the seal between the base and the nail. A good combo for adding volume to the nail is a chunky glitter feeder (Glitter Food, Essence gel look) followed by quick-dry (Seche Vite, Poshe).

– Try taking a hot shower or bath before peeling. The hot water will dissolve the PVA a bit, and make it bendier, which can make it easier to peel. The downside to this is that your nail is weaker when wet, which increases the chance of you damaging your nail during removal (more on that later).

– Use two coats of base

Help! It won’t stay on!

Some people have reported their polish coming off spontaneously. Try these tricks:

– Make sure your nails aren’t too oily before application – dip a cotton bud (Q tip) in acetone and rub it over your nail before you start.

– Leave a 1-2 mm border of bare nail, or paint it in carefully with regular base coat. If your polish only peels off at the free edge, do a bare French tip.

Help! My nails are flaking off!

Anything that involves peeling stuff off your nails will cause a little bit of damage. Even peeling sticky tape off your bare nail will strip the surface, albeit very very slightly. PVA is the same – it’s a lot less damage than regular base coats, plus it’s easy to scratch the nail with whatever you’re wedging the polish off with (hopefully not the corner of your thumbnail!).

– First, make sure it’s actually your nails! PVA leaves a white residue on your nails which looks like terrible damage – it’ll rub off with soap and water.

– If the base coat isn’t coming off easily in a few big pieces, don’t force it – that seems to be where most of the damage happens.

– Peeling the polish off from the cuticle to the tip will minimise flaking at the tip, which is the most easily damaged part of the nail.

– Some people’s nails will be simply to flaky to take the peeling – you’ll have to decide for your own nails. In terms of long-term damage, I’ve been using peel-off base almost exclusively for the past month, changing polish every 2-3 days, and my nails don’t show any visible damage – in fact my nails have never looked better, especially at the tips, where I’d often start peeling away at regular polish when it started to chip. If you’re guilty of this too, peel-off base might help 😉

Help! My polish stained through the PVA! 

This one’s easy! Add a layer of your regular stain-preventing base coat on top of the PVA, before you add colour. It doesn’t work so well the other way around!

Hope that helps you make the most of your peel-off base coat!

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29 thoughts on “Troubleshooting PVA peel off base coat”

  1. I’m just trying pva out on my thumb today for the first time. I didn’t put it in a polish bottle but bought a PVA with a pointed tip and spread it on my nail using that. Normally I wear my manicures for a week but this one I will probably only wear for 2 days so we shall see how it goes!

    • Good luck! I found that straight out of the bottle it was a bit too gloopy and lifted off my nail by itself during a hot shower, so if that happens try diluting it with some water 🙂

  2. I’m so happy with your tips I got the PVA to work 🙂 I still do use the foil occasionally if I can’t be bothered waiting for the PVA to dry however. 😛

  3. Great tips! I took a glitter bomb off today (I had a PVA base) and the polish stained my nails orange so badly!! Will be using base coat on top of PVA from now on – hadn’t even thought about doing that

    • Theoretically yes, but a few people have told me that it doesn’t peel off easily. If you want to try, maybe just put a layer of PVA on one nail and see if that comes off easily before putting polish on.

  4. Some of my experiences: wiping the nails with acetone is to me the must do for long weartime (3-4 days, instead of 1 day). Don’t use metal tools to take it off, but an orange stick, this prevents flaking(at least a bit) and damage. Together with the hot shower, it makes a big difference. Or go do some housekeeping. Using wipes to clean surfaces always leaves me with less painted nails. But I do prefer a hot shower/bath, haha.

  5. Great tips! I loooove the peel off glue base coat, it’s changed my (polishing) life, lol. I hate hate hate removing polish, so I was super excited when I first heard about this! Thanks for all the great info you have provided on it. 🙂

  6. For what it’s worth, I’ve been fiddling with the formula on my DIY, and I’m finding that two thin coats of more watered-down PVA dry a lot faster than one thick coat, but peel just as well. Makes sense, but it’s helped with my impatient base-coat prep!

  7. I love you for this idea: you’re a genius!
    Now I can wear glitters without the pain of removing them ^^
    the peeling work fine for me and the nails are healthier than when using acetone
    thank you for the tips

  8. I was curious if you know anything about using a treatment basecoat before the peel-off base. does the PVA come off just as easy if there’s a starter base coat underneath? i want to wear glitters but i also need to grow my nails out ;P hehe


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