Friday, February 22, 2013

PVA Glue as Base Coat Review

If you've ever worn glitter nail polish, you'll probably also know how annoying/frustrating/time consuming it is to remove.  The foil method (here's a tutorial by Berry Polished if you don't know what it is) definitely works, and works well, but it leaves the sides of my fingers feeling brittle, dry and all sorts of yuck.  I don't mind using it, but if there was a method just as easy that saved my poor fingers, I would take it.

Enter PVA glue.  This idea apparently stemmed from Essence's Peel-Off Base Coat, and bloggers realised that the ingredients were basically the same as PVA.  The concept is that you paint your nails with the glue, apply polish (especially glitters) and when you're done, you can just peel it off without damaging your nails.

So I went to an art and crafts store and bought a $2 bottle of PVA glue (checking it was non toxic and water based and all that), then dug a brush with stiff plastic bristles out of the family art box and got to work.  If you have an empty nail polish bottle with its brush lying around, that would work too.

I squeezed some of the glue onto a bit of foil and then applied it to my nails.

This is the partly dried glue.  As you can see (from this terrible photo, sorry!), the glue looks milky white.  I applied a very thin coat and I definitely should have made it much thicker.

Half-dried PVA base coat

 You know that the glue has dried when it goes clear, as you can see from the following photo.

Fully dried PVA base coat
After the glue is clear and dried, go ahead and apply your glitter polish!  I used Pretty Serious Seasonal Sunset, three coats with top coat.  I didn't have any issues with application over the glue.

Below I've noted changes from day to day.

Day One: I've been treating this mani as I would any other with normal base coat on to see if it can survive my day-to-day life.  The mani survived many hand washes in cold water (some with soap) and a hot shower in which I washed my hair.  There isn't any tipwear or chips!

Day Two: The tip of my right index finger was starting to peel off a bit, so I slapped some more top coat on it.  At the end of the day, I've got tipwear on a few nails and some chipping going on.  My left index finger has started to peel at the tip.

Day Three: I left the polish on for another half a day, and by then, most of my fingers were starting to peel at the tips when I poked at them.  Most of my nails have small chips - overall the mani looked okay from far away, though.

Removal: I found the removal of the polish much more difficult than expected.  I'm pretty sure that this is my fault because I didn't put a thick enough layer of PVA down as my base coat.  My coat was quite thin, as I noted earlier in this post, and I think that's why some parts of my nails peeled very well and others came off in little shards.  I found the cuticle stick wasn't much help so I used my fingernails to pick the polish off.  On most of my nails, the polish came off in bits but on a few nails I could peel off most of the polish at once, which was very exciting!

Natural nails pre-remover

There was some residual polish remaining on my nails so I used some polish remover to scrub that off.  I didn't experience any peeling of my natural nail and there's no staining either.  Hooray!

Natural nails post-remover
Overall: Despite the issues I had with removal (because I'm pretty sure I can solve that problem), I felt that my experiment in using PVA as base coat was a success!  The wear time was shorter than that of a normal base coat manicure, but still long enough to last me; I usually wear one mani for three days or so before I'm compelled to take it off!  Removal was a bit difficult due to my thin PVA coat but it didn't leave me with dry fingertips like the foil method of removal does and neither did it require any tedious scrubbing.

I'm definitely use this method with glitter polish again (for my next mani, in fact, because I need to know what happens with a thicker coat of PVA!) - it's easy to do, wears like a normal base coat and doesn't effect application!  This is definitely a win and takes a lot of the stress out of glitter polishes!

(See my successful try at the peel off base coat here)


  1. I had the same problems the first few times I used PVA base. So I tried doing 2 normal coats of the PVA and it made it a million times easier to remove! I recommend putting the glue into an empty polish bottle if you have one, too, it makes it really easy to apply :)

  2. I actually tried the PVA base again straight after this mani because I couldn't let it rest. I used a thicker coat and it peeled off all my nails in one go - I was so excited!
    Thanks for the polish bottle tip, but unfortunately I'm such a nail polish noob that I don't have empty bottles of anything! x__x
    - Alicea


Thank you for visiting! Please feel free to comment with your thoughts or questions, we would love to hear from you.