The first nail-focused beauty blog

The Arsenal – Graham HandsDown Ultra Cosmetic Pads

By on June 5, 2010
in The Arsenal

graham-handsdown-ultra-pads I get a lot of questions and comments regarding the tools and treatment products I use to keep my nails healthy and in tip top shape. Since my routine changes as I test new products, I’ve launched, The Arsenal, to share with you the items that are “must haves” in my nail kit.

A cotton pad is a cotton pad, right?  Not in my world.  For years I went the cheapo route buying whatever bulk cotton pads or balls where the least expensive even though I continued to be frustrated by the little pieces of lint left behind, the polish stains on my fingers and how easily they disintegrated.  Enter Graham HandsDown Ultra Nail and Cosmetic Pads.  To my nails, they’re like the air I breathe, ESSENTIAL!

What’s so fab about them?  For one, the plastic barrier and easy grip tab on the back of each pad.  I can easily remove polish from just one nail without messing up the rest of my manicure.  I can easily swatch polish without messing up a brand I’m testing on my non-swatching hand.

What else?  Well they are lint-free which is a HUGE plus and they hold remover well so you use less product.  With cotton pads, my fingers would end up wet which is bad for your skin and a waste.  Thanks to the plastic backing, they are also very sturdy so you can remove polish from multiple nails without them falling apart.

Grahams HandsDown Ultra Pads can be purchased in a 60 ct package at Sally Beauty for $4.99 ($4.49 with Sally Card) or do what I do and order the big 240 ct bag from for $12.95.

Compared to drugstore brand cotton balls they are a bit pricey but considering you only need 1 or 2 per manicure, it’s worth the cost.

How many of you are HandsDown Ultra converts?  Do you agree that they’re worth the extra coin?  What’s your favorite nail polish remover pad?

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  1. Ten or Less: HandsDown Ultra Nail Pads & Soak-Off Nail Wraps | June 2, 2011
  1. Belle says:

    I think I am going to give these a try soon! I’ve switched to lint-free puffs but it’s still difficult not to ruin your mani when you just want to redo the color on 1 finger. Thanks for the rec!

  2. Eden says:

    HOLY CRAPOLY!(LOL) i’ve been trying to come up with ways to protect my nails that I want to keep polished when im really wanting to paint my toes before i change the color on my hands! ..if that makes sense…I’ve been using gloves annoying and HARD to do it that way, and the npr would just sink through the gloves and mess up my manicure anyway! I’m def going to sally’s and buying like 5 packs ASAP! thank you so much! i had no idea these existed…it’s GENIOUS!

  3. melli says:

    Okay, definitely buying these when I go to Sally’s next time. Thanks for the tip!

  4. nailpolishes says:

    Actually i’ve never used these pads before. but the funny thing is that i wrote a post 2 days a go about how to remove nail polishes neatly using the regular pads or cotton balls…i guess i figured out a certain technique in which u can get the pad to absorb all the lacquer from the edges of ur nails to leave it neat and clean…u can check it out in my blog here..i’ve demonstrated it with pictures

    i would love to know what u think of it..ur opinion is important to me. and definitely i’ll search for these nails and cosmetics pads to try them out. thanx for sharing

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Hi Sarah! Thanks for sharing your link with me. Unfortunately, Google Translator is not very good so I couldn’t understand your post but I’m glad you found a method for working with the cotton pads. I really love the plastic backing on the HandsDown pads which is the main reason why I use them. Like someone else commented, they’re great for changing your pedicure color without wrecking a manicure.

  5. Hannah says:

    These are a great idea! I often want to change my pedi with out ruining my mani, its almost impossible with normal cotton wool pads!

  6. Vanaily says:

    OMG, genius! I must go find these. Like a few ppl mention this sounds like i great way to do your feet, or fix a nail without wrecking everything else. All this time I put on those dish washer gloves if I had to do my feet. lolol

  7. Altea says:

    Wow that is PRO stuff.
    Nothing like that around here

  8. l0verlada says:

    That is too pricey for my taste for cotton balls. I personally will either use finger condoms or rubber gloves if I need to be extra careful. But I usually only use 1-2 cotton balls to remove a regular mani. I find the big difference is in the remover- a bad one and you have to rub so much it ruins everything! Can’t wait to read about other essentials, it is great seeing what everyone uses.

  9. Sandy says:

    By chance I just bought these pads the other day. I haven’t used them as of yet, but after reading this, I went to check and see what they are like, and yes, there is a plastic backing, to avoid the remover from soaking through getting to the nails you don’t want touched. The reason I bought them was because it said “lint free”.. and after suffering with having to carefully remove lint from my nails, I saw these and grabbed them. I am a budget shopper, and for me to purchase these makes them affordable for sure. Worth the few extra cents.

  10. karen says:

    omggg they make these as pads?!?! i’ve been using their “towels” [roughly the size of a large paper towel] to do my manicures over since it is plastic backed and protects my working surface. I’m going to have to be on the lookout for the little pads though. I despise ruining a whole manicure because of the acetone soaking through the cotton ball!

  11. Shauna says:

    I use panty liners to remove my polish. They don’t leave any lint behind and they hold the remover really well without wasting or drying out too quickly. I can usually get the Kotex brand for free after using a coupon from the Sunday papers.

  12. Chaosbutterfly says:

    Ooh, those sound spiffy! I’m putting that on my wishlist!

    My favorite cotton balls are the generic kind that they sell at Dollar Tree. They’re really cheap and thick, and have no lint. ^_^

  13. Deb says:

    I have the ASP manicure saver claw, which can hold a cotton pad or ball and protect the rest of your mani, but I still think I would like to try these just on the basis they are lint free. I hate lint!

  14. Jen(ny) says:

    Fabulous! I need to pick these up!

  15. Virginia says:

    Awesome! I have been wearing lots of glitter polish lately which translates to lots and lots of cotton pads. Maybe these will require less. Thanks for the tip!

  16. Mohmlet says:

    For everyday removal, I use craft felt, cut into squares. Cheap and lint-free! For single nail removal, I just break out the scrub tub. I do want to pick a bag of these up for emergency pedicure purposes, though.

    • joyous says:

      Agree 100% about craft felt. It removes all nail polish, including dark colors. It’s not so good with glitters, but for those I do the cotton ball and foil trick.

    • Jen says:

      Same here, I use a 2×2 square of felt and end up using 2 for dark colors or just one for lighter ones. I bought a half yard at half price which cost about 1.50 and got more than 300 squares out of it. I am able to use the felt pads without messing up other nails. They are definitely awesome and work really well.

  17. queen frostine says:

    I’ve been a Hands Down fan for several years now and can’t live without them. I can’t seem to master the skill of using the flimsy tab to hold these in a way to protect my manicure from the remover if I’m only removing polish from one nail, BUT that doesn’t bother me as these do such a great job of taking polish off that I don’t care that one of their gimmicks didn’t work out for me. The experience of taking polish off with these makes taking polish off with cotton balls or pads seem like grueling labor. So much less mess and I can usual do all 10 fingers with just one pad which doesn’t happen for me with a cotton ball. I find these to be a real time saver as polish seems to come off with these much more easily than with cotton balls. Love!

  18. Lisa Mc says:

    D’oh… wish I had read this post before I hit up Sally’s Friday. Adding them to my list…

  19. Steffi says:

    Amazingly enough I’ve worked at Sally Beauty for about four and a half years now, and only just tried these about two months ago. I only have to use one per mani/pedi(whichever I’m changing), unless it’s a particularly stubborn colour(i.e. glitters).

  20. Debbie says:

    These I NEED, but I bet I can’t get them in the UK. I ran out of my acetone free remover and used up the last of a cheapo one and the skin is quite literally peeling off of my fingers, the whole tip of my index finger on my right hand has peeled away and my hands look disgusting and I had considered wearing gloves but these would be so much easier will start scouring the shops for something similar.

  21. Lynnie says:

    These sound like a great product, although I imagine the plastic backing makes them maybe less environmentally friendly than regular cotton balls/pads..? (Maybe it makes little or no difference, just thinking out loud!)

  22. We recently did a post about pretty nails polish removal system. It is also very neat and convenient when you are trying to only remove one nail or you are swatching. You should check it out here

    Let us know what you think! Love your site and swatches!!!

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Thanks for sharing. My only issue with those remover tubs is that I would go through so many of them. I’d have to buy stock in the company if I switched over, ha!

      • Sandi says:

        Aren’t those vagina dentata remover jars plastic fingers as opposed to a sponge? I’ll bet you could rinse and refill them. I just don’t know that it’s not sucking up a lot more remover than the pads/cotton balls method. Would be worth it to keep one around just for glitters though.

        You have convinced me to try the Graham pads though because I don’t like the way the remover is affecting the skin on the pads of my fingers, especially my right hand with my current method.

  23. Solveig says:

    My favorite is actually nail polish remover pots from Depend, they have foam rubber and NPR inside, so you don’t need any cotton at all. They are super great for removing glitter polishes, which usually is a big pain!

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      I used to use those when I was younger. It’s what my friend used so I did too. Though after using them a few times, my skin would get stained if I had previously removed a darker color. Is that still an issue?

      • Solveig says:

        Yes, you can get stains from having removed really dark colors with it earlier, so I usually start with using it for lighter colors, then I use it for darker colors when it’s about to go in the trash anyway. :)
        They also changed the foam rubber recently so it’s more durable, that was very nice.

  24. Salina says:

    The lint getting stuck on another, drying nail is pretty much the story of my life. These seem really neat though! Normally I use the same cotton balls for everything, from toner to nail polish remover!

  25. Pretty says:

    ooh I’m going to try these too.
    I’m trying to get a really good removal system down. I tried this new cvs removal NON-ACETONE.. last night( will blog about the updates) and it was pretty good. Expect I was using crappy cotton pads that are too thin. I’m going to try these cotton balls now.

  26. Heather says:

    this is EXACTLY what i’ve been looking for.. awesome find!

  27. tPFmariah9999 says:

    These are the best! I’ve been using them for a while now. My main reason for using them is that I am super clumsy and I will ruin a perfectly good pedicure or manicure if I don’t have those little plastic backings to help me out. They are truly genious!

  28. Mellie says:

    Wow, these seem totally perfect! I definitely think that I’ll be giving these a try soon. Great review!

  29. Sandi says:

    I use baby wipes to remove my make up and accidentally pulled out two a while back. I draped the extra over my make up case meaning to stuff it back in the pack but forgot and of course by morning it was dry. I went in to the bathroom to grab some cotton balls, saw the now dry wipe and thought why waste it so I cut it into four strips and folded one into a pad. No lint, an embossed texture to help remove the polish. Hold the saturated wipe on your tip for 30 seconds and pull straight down and it removes 98% of your polish. After I’ve done all 10 tips, I get a clean one, dampen it with remover a bit and give everything a final wipe, checking the sides carefully (I have a great deal of curve from side to side). There about 2

  30. Arrianne says:

    I’ve always just worn a glove over the hand I don’t want to be ruined! I’ll have to give these a go if they’re as good as you say.

  31. liz says:

    i work at a spa and we used to use these for mani/pedis (until it go too expensive to use these all the time) and i started using them. good tip about buying them online from head2toe…i haven’t been using them lately because they are kind of expensive.

  32. Micki says:

    Oh yeah! I have been using those for years and years!

  33. Angel says:

    a TRUE staple in my 10+ yr arsenal!

  34. Purrfectionist says:

    Easy removal with cotton pads and balls. Here is my low budget method. It works well for several layers of polish.

    I cut a cosmetic cotton wool pad into pieces that match the shape of my nails, and also unroll a ball of cotton wool into a long strip.

    I then place the right size piece of pad on my nail, drip on remover until wet (fully moistened but not dripping) and cover with a small plastic bag and twist round the finger/nail to hold in place (for glitter I sometimes use foil instead). You only need a thin piece of cotton pad, as the remover does the work.

    Leave for 2-10 mins depending on number of layers of polish/glitter. After time is up, unwrap the bag/foil and with other hand place a piece of unrolled cotton ball on top of the pad, press down and sweep both off together in the direction of the tip. This removes all the layers in one go, and the extra piece of cotton ball keeps your fingers dry. If you don’t use too much remover, the finger/toe being removed also stays dry. If you are really careful, you can do this without removing any of the polish on the hand which is removing the polish pad.

    If you do not get it all off at one sweep, you did not leave it long enough, or use enough remover (less likely).

    This is cheap, works on any polish and the only downside is it takes a bit longer.

  35. Victoria says:

    Hey I love your blog :) I just discovered it a few days ago, and I am hooked.

    Of course I ran to Sallys and got these pads. Tried them last night and they are indeed awesome. It was a little awkward to hold at first but I got the hang of it quickly. The price has gone up it seems ($5.29, or $4.79 w/card). I also saw that CVS now has a knockoff of these pads for slightly cheaper, I might try them next.

  36. Jessica says:

    I love the cotton pads! I won’t use anything else once trying these. They are so worth the cost. The plastic backing is awesome, and the pad holds remover very well.