Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Putting it to the test: Zoya Remove+ vs. drugstore polish remover

Hello there!

Last night the lovely Nathalie asked me some questions about Zoya Remove+, and the relative benefits of it over standard polish remover, particularly with respect to cost. Since yesterday just so happens to be one of those days where I was actually wearing the same polish on both hands, applied at the same time, with no special nail art or glitters (can you tell I had some work appointments, lol?), the timing was perfect for me to do some testing on this for her and for you. 

I buy Zoya Remove+ because it treats my cuticles and nails more gently than other brands; up until now, that was the only real reason  I had for preferring it, and I had certainly never done any sort of controlled test on it. Frankly, I assumed it was costing me more to use it; but since I change my polish at least daily on average, and I struggle to keep my cuticles looking blog-level professional, that's worth the money to me right there, and I didn't need to know more. But, especially if you don't change your polish as often as I do, those other factors are important, and as a research psychologist, I love me some experiments! So, I'm going to test out the following hypotheses regarding Zoya Remove+ and CVS's house brand polish remover: 

(1) Does Zoya really cost more? On the face of it, it does, but do you use less of it than the drugstore brand? If so, maybe it really doesn't cost that much more. Let's start by assuming it does cost more.

(2) Does Zoya do the job more effectively than other polish removers? Is it faster? Do you have to scrub less? Let's start assuming it is no faster than the drugstore polish, and that you have to scrub just as much.

Participants
Here is what I'm comparing:

Zoya Remove+ vs. CVS Stengthening Polish Remover (contains acetone)

Zoya Remove+: if you buy the 32oz bottle shown here, you are paying $25, which = $0.78 per ounce

CVS Strengthening Polish Remover: if you buy 8 ounce bottle you pay $1.99, which = $0.25 per ounce

(Note: I'm going with the price I found reported online for the CVS, because it's a bit cheaper than here in Northern California where things tend to be a little bit more expensive for some reason. The bottle I purchased is10oz, and it sells for $2.50, a little more than the online report. I'm going with the cheaper estimate to favor CVS, to be as fair to that brand as possible (conservative hypothesis testing, lol). 10oz is the largest bottle my CVS sells, but it's possible there is a more economic size that I can't find. Also, I am not including shipping cost on the Zoya because it's pretty easy to get this with free shipping depending on sales and the like, and you can also buy this at retailers like Ulta to avoid the shipping cost).

So, using these estimates, the Zoya is approximately 3 times more expensive than the CVS brand, out of the gate as our baseline measure.


Methods
To test out our hypotheses, I removed the same nail polish from both hands, using CVS on my right hand and Zoya on my left. Since I'm left-handed, any advantage I have using my dominant hand should favor CVS. Also, while the nails on my hands are approximately the same length right now, if there is a slightly larger amount of nail length, it's on my left hand, so again this should give the advantage to CVS.

I used standard make-up remover pads purchased at Costco for the removal:


Standard make-up removal pads purchased at Costco

On both hands I started with an average manicure; one layer of basecoat (Poshe), two layers of polish (a-England Briarwood--a stunning polish I will show you soon :) ), and one layer of topcoat (Seche Vite). Both hands had only minimal tip-wear and no chips; here is a before shot:


Before nails--not to be used as representative swatch!!

To remove the polish, I took the pad and placed it on top of the bottle of polish. I quickly turned the bottle upside-down to get remover onto the pad, and in one motion (without pausing) turned it right-side back up--I will refer to this by the highly scientific name of a 'swoosh of remover'. I rubbed the swoosh of remover over my nails until no more polish was coming off of the nail, and then I swooshed again. I continued this way until all the polish was gone to casual visual inspection:


After shot--EEEKKK! Nekkid nails!!


Results
So what did I find?

Number of swooshes. In the case of the CVS remover, I needed 3 swooshes of remover to get all of the polish on my hand. In the case of the Zoya remover, I only needed 1 swoosh of remover.

Time of removal. In the case of the CVS remover, it took me just under 2 minutes to remove all of the polish from my hand. With the Zoya remover, I was done in less than 1 minute.

Additional factors. With the CVS remover, when I did a closer visual inspection (the sort I have to do when I am going to swatch for the camera, which picks up things not normally noticeable), there were several small spots of polish along the cuticle line that I didn't see at my first casual visual inspection, and that I needed to go back and scrub further to remove (this is after the 2 minutes initial removal reported above). This required harder scrubbing directly at the cuticle line. In the case of the Zoya remover, there was only one tiny spot, and it came off easily, with a quick swipe. I mention this separately since it might not be as important to people who are not nail bloggers and don't have to be as crazy careful about what's left behind.


Conclusions
Both of the initial hypotheses ( (1) that the Zoya remover costs more and (2) is not any more efficient to use) did not hold up to the testing. While Zoya costs about 3 times as much per ounce as the drugstore brand, it took 3 times more of the drugstore brand to do the same job; this means the actual cost of one standard manicure removal is effectively the same with both brands. Further, the Zoya Remove+ took the polish off twice as fast, and left behind less residual polish at careful inspection; it therefore required less abrasive scrubbing to remove the polish, and would result in less damage to the cuticles. This fact alone might be responsible for the improved condition of my cuticles when I use Zoya, without factoring in the added conditioning ingredients contained in the Zoya remover.


General Discussion
I favored Zoya Remove+ to start with because it left my cuticles in better condition; I was willing to pay more for a product that did that because of how often I change my polish. After seeing these tests, however, I now know that it actually doesn't cost me more to use Zoya Remove+, because it takes 1/3 of the product to do the same job. On top of that, the polish is actually faster, and does a more thorough job with less targeted scrubbing. So from where I'm standing, Zoya Remove+ is the clear winner, and I'm glad I did this, because I can have a clear conscience about the cost!

Thanks so much Nathalie for asking me about this! <3 And thanks to everyone for reading; I hope this was helpful.

Hugs and wishes of easy polish removal,
M.

(All products contained in this review were purchased with my own money.)

35 comments:

  1. This is a great comparison! I will definitely consider switching to Zoya remover. How does it smell compared to the CVS brand?

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    1. Thank you! I much much much prefer the smell. :)

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  2. this is great! does the zoya one work well for final clean up? Right now I use straight acetone with a brush to clean up after I put on polish. Thanks for such a detailed post!

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    1. Good question. I use pure acetone for my clean-up, let me do a test for you next time I do clean-up (probably tomorrow, lol) and I'll report back. :)

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    2. Hey Saiwai! Okay, so I tried out the Zoya against pure acetone for clean-up. Not surprisingly, the pure acetone is better (since it's pure, lol)--it's faster and I can get more precision right on the tip of my brush. But Zoya is a close second. It's better than trying to do clean-up with the drugstore polish remover, and it would certainly do in a pinch. :)

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    3. Thank you for trying it out for me!

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  3. Good post. I wondered if zoya remover was worth the extra cost as I loved it when I got a free container from them. Thanks!

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful! Those free containers sucked me in, lol...:)

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  4. Great comparison of the two!

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  5. This is great! I've always been on the fence about that remover, but now I think I'm gonna get some! Thanks for this :)

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  6. The health economist in me is satisfied. Thank-you for this! I'll be picking some up soon. BTW, for all the Canucks interested in Zoya remover, it is $29 (with free shipping!) from Nail Polish Canada.

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    1. You are very welcome, it was my pleasure! Thanks for the information about Nail Polish Canada, I need all the help I can get with respect to information for my non-American readers. Ty ty! :)

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  7. Great comparison study. Did you mention that the Zoya remover is also acetone free?

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    1. Hi Cin! This is a bit confusing, because you're right that the ingredients list '2-Propanone' instead of 'Acetone', but they are the same thing (and apparently this is fairly common to use that label, so they're not just being tricky about it). So yes, it does contain acetone, and if someone needs to avoid acetone, Zoya won't work for them. :(

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  8. OMG real in-depth study! Awesome! I'm laughing at how most of us nail bloggers are somewhat nerds! I sure am!
    I love Zoya Remove I still have some left but since I live in Mexico and here it can't be found I cherish it and use Sally Hansens green bottle most of the time :P

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    1. ROFL! I know what you mean--when I did my World Of Warcraft nails, I was surprised to find that so many nail bloggers were WoW fans. I think the thing is, nerds are just cool and we're everywhere! :)

      Grrr that you can't get it in Mexico. I just double-checked the Zoya site and the Ulta site (I'm sure you did this already, lol, but just in case) and was surprised to learn that Zoya only ships to the US! I'm really surprised at that given the size of their company. Here's hoping they'll change that soon.

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  9. Great comparison!
    I'm quite interested in this remover, but it's, yet again, one of those things I can't get my hands on so easily here in Germany. If I ever make it to the US, I'll pick up a bottle for sure!

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    1. Grrr...I am frustrated on your behalf...Zoya, start shipping world-wide!!!!

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    2. (On the brightside, you do have Paulaner and currywurst...)

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  10. Great comparison and I love the way you write :)

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  11. Great post! Definitely makes the price tag easier to swallow on Remove+.

    I'm also wearing Briarwood right now lol. Need to take it off to swatch but I don't want to!

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    1. I re-swatched it after the test so I could do a post on it, it's just too pretty not to. So stunning!

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  12. I love your scientific approach to this issue :) (am happy to learn about your profession too, was wondering about it (wow!))
    As another of your non-US readers, this doesn't help me all that much, but it did make me think about my remover-buying-decision-making (err..), mainly not feeling guilty when buying a bit pricier items :) knowing they do their job better.

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    1. Grrrr...we should petition Zoya to ship outside the US, seriously, they're big enough that they need to expand to that! But I'm glad it was helpful in some way with respect to the options you do have available. :(

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  13. REALLY great post! So informative and helpful! Thank you.

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