Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cleanup with a remover pen - step by step tutorial

Many of us do, and I'm no exception, get the question how we make our manicures look nice close to the cuticle. Many great tutorials already exist on this matter, but when Helen asked me a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I'll do my own as well. The reason is that most of the tutorials I have seen are about cleaning up polish with a brush, and some of us just can't use that method, and therefore I decided to show you how it can also be done, using one of those remover pens!

This is what I grab when it's time for a new manicure: base and top coats, color, the trusty remover pen, and a bottle with some remover in. Completed with a piece of paper tissue.

Pen? Why? Well, I'm just so clumsy that I don't feel comfortable using a brush. I need the sturdiness of the pen tip to be sure I don't accidently do an uncontrolled stroke. As you can see the tip is pretty sharp, so you have excellent precision with it.

The pen I use is a random no brand pen, available at any etailer Head2Toe Beauty for $0.99. These are staples for me, so I just throw in three or five occasionally when I order polishes. I use one pen for approximately 20 or so manicures, and I just throw it away when it becomes dull or very discolored.

About when I start the application of the color polish, I open up my small bottle of remover. I use one I feel is handy enough, which just happens to be a small old Zoya Remove+ bottle. The content isn't Remove+, but my usual, way cheaper remover, and I only keep about 1 cm/0.4 inch of it in the bottle. Then I just pop the pen in it to let it soak while I apply my polish.

Why do I do this? Well, the remover that comes with the pencil isn't always that great, and no matter what, the pen will be empty pretty much at once, while the tip is still fresh. This way, the tip is soaked and some excess remover will find its way up into the pen as well. Be sure though to only keep the small amount of remover in the bottle - if there's too much, the pen will have remover all over it and you risk compromising your manicure while holding it.

This is what my fresh manicure often looks like. Not bad, but not good either. And please note that this is my left hand (and I'm right-handed).

Sometimes it is a lot messier, like my right hand this particular time. Look at all the cuticle pooling on the pinky! Some of us have crazy back pains at times, and no matter how hard you try, or how experienced you are, a steady paint job while having a back pain just isn't that easy...

Now, when you take the pen out of the bottle, you need to wipe off some excess remover to avoid flooding your nail with it. Just dab the tip on the paper tissue.

First, I remove excess color on my surrounding skin. When it's close to the nail, like it is here, I lean the tip on the edge of my nail to avoid accidental strokes on the nail plate.

Then, I remove excess color on the nail plate, near the cuticle, to get that sharp, perfect look. I put the tip down somewhere near the top of the cuticle, and then just slide it down the sides of my nail.

In between, wipe the pen tip off on the paper tissue. I typically wipe it after each stroke. When you notice the tip is drying out, just dip it in your bottle again.

This is what it looks like when I'm done.

And in this crappy photo you can see that even the super flooded right pinky looks decent! Just a tiny bit of leftover color in a skin crack... Which will eventually come out when washing hands, moisturizing and such.

I know these photos are really bad, but since I needed help to shoot a few pictures while I was using both my hands, I had to do this pretty late, and my lighting is crap! Now you'll have to tell me if you think these are good enough for you to get the picture (pun intended), or if you think I should make a new attempt later. Or if this post maybe just isn't very helpful at all. Please don't be shy to leave comments!

Photos with two hands involved by Fredrik D.

Swedish word of the day:
städa -verb clean [up], tidy up
Because we all have to, in one way or another.


  1. great idea!!! i had never used pens before bc they always dried up so quickly but this makes a lot of sense. will try it.

  2. Bra tips! Fiffigt att låta pennan suga åt sig extra remover. Ska på pennjakt asap.

  3. This is a great tutorial! I can use all the help I can get when it comes to clean up, and I had never even considered something like this!

  4. I need to try this out, my cleanup isn't nearly as neat and I find a brush difficult to use.

  5. I love this method. I have the felt pens and I never thought to soak them because they do dry out rapidly - which I hate. Now I know what to do to make them work...excellent! The brush method never works for me...I'm hoping the soaking of the tip of this will help me out.

  6. This is a great post! And the photos do their job ;) I've been wanting to ask you about your sharp edges for a while now, and I'm going to get a pen soon :)

    But, one question: doesn't the remover dry out quickly, if you keep only a small quantity in the bottle?

    Thanks again for the post :)

  7. That is a great way to clean up! Good results!

    But here we don't get these fancy things:( The brazilian clean up method is w/ orange stick and rolled cotton immersed in acetone. It works great,but it's no good to draw the cuticle line.

    I have tried the "brush way" before, but I just can't do it, so I decided to continue cutting my cuticles and cleaning up the way I always did :(

  8. best clean up better! Im pretty sure i would suck trying with a brush, thx to u now im sure i gonna get this pen this friday!!! Thx u!

  9. Now I have no excuse to not have great clean up. Very good tutorial. Thanks for posting this. :)

  10. I am very glad that you did this post. I have been debating for over a year whether or not to get one of those pens. I have seen some on ebay that are refillable I have thought about trying those, also most of those come with 3 replaceable tips.

  11. Wow, this looks really interesting. I also have a hard time with clean up. I hope I can find a pen like that here.

  12. I don't know why I've never seen this pen before. I probably have and just dismissed it. I'm have to get one of those things!

  13. This is great! I use a tiny concealer brush, but your method is great, too!

  14. I already use the pen, is faster and easier.
    I use the Essence one is great quality.

  15. Ohh smart, det måste jag prova! :)

  16. this is awesome! i normally do the brush method but get so frustrated when i can't find the perfect one (or i find it and the ferrets steal it). I had one of those pens, I wonder if I still do?

  17. Thanks so very much for this post. I have tried the brush way and it works, but unsteadily and leave small jumps here and there. I've own a pen or two over my life but it always galled me how quickly they get discolored and dry up. Never have I thought I got get some new life into them this way.

  18. awesome, thanks for your own personal way of cleaning up. It's nice to know how different people do it

  19. Tack snälla! <3 Så det är det som är hemligheten? Ska köpa en sån penna i morgon!


  20. Hi. I'm new to your blog, and I love all the posts I have read. This is such a smart idea. Those pens seem too dry right off the bat. I shall try this soon, because sometimes I tend to make a bigger mess with the brush!

    : )

  21. Valeria: Depends on what you mean by quickly. :) It does dry out, and is eventually of course used up- you just refill it as you find necessary! Use whatever cheap remover you've got (and like, for course), and use the smallest bottle you can find, it makes everything easier. :)

    Sarah B.: You can get these at TD or H2T, so if you ever order from them, just throw a bunch in! Or maybe you can find some on ebay? The big brands have them available as well, but I wouldn't waste such big money.

    Twister: I've had the refillable ones from the huge brands, but I'd say they're a waste of money. Refilling is messy and you'll end up with remover everywhere anyway, so get these cheap ones instead, and soak them while using instead. It's my best tip really. :)

    Helen: Så enkelt och billigt är det. :) Köp dem från H2T förslagsvis, de som finns att köpa i butik i Sverige är rätt dyra och jag tycker tipparna är för grova! Bättre precision med de här billiga skitgrejerna. ;)

    faerieberry: Hi and welcome! And thanks for your praises. :D Hope this method works out for you! :)

  22. A few years ago my nail technician had a clean-up pen pen sitting in acetone and I thought it was a marvelous idea because the inevitably "dry-out"! Haven't tried it yet but thanks for the reminder :)

  23. Tack för ett superbra inlägg!! Ska genast skaffa mig en penna eller två. =)

  24. Dang I fail at this! It's better than the brush method though. For me, at least. Luckily I do a pretty decent job painting so clean-up isn't a dire necessity for me. Awesome tutorial!

  25. I have been using the brush method. Wanted to try this, but couldn't find any pens at the store..
    Will have to keep looking! Thanks for the tutorial :)


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