Many regular nail polishes contain acetone. The next time you need to swing by the drugstore to pick up some supplies for your at-home manicure, you might want to make sure you have a valid driver's license with you.
It turns out acetone, a key ingredient found in many formulas of nail polish remover, is also being used illegally to make crystal meth. And since some amateur chemists have been scooping up the product in bulk to create the psychoactive drug, the megachain drugstore CVS is taking action to prevent acetone from getting into the wrong hands.
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Yahoo! Shine contacted CVS, which provided this official statement: "We are committed to ensuring customer convenience while appropriately complying with regulations in our business. With that in mind, we are in the process of reviewing our policy concerning the sale of products containing acetone. We currently require a valid ID to be presented to purchase nail polish remover based on various regulations requiring retailers to record sales of acetone products due to its use as an ingredient in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. We plan to communicate a revision to our policy shortly.
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There are currently no state or federal laws that require businesses to card customers buying acetone-containing products. So has extended viewing of AMC's "Breaking Bad" made the drugstore chain extra cautious? Yahoo! Shine reached out to several CVS locations in New York City for more specific shopping information, and according to multiple store managers, in order to purchase acetone, a customer must indeed prove he or she is at least 18 years old with a valid ID. Each customer is also limited to purchasing one 32-ounce bottle of acetone within a 24-hour period, which will be monitored and tracked by scanning an ID into the CVS database. When someone has gone over the allotment, the computer system will decline the purchase. Since it could take a month for even the most ambitious nail art enthusiast to go through a 32-ounce bottle, there should be no issues for your average consumer, though one manager noted he did have one customer who was upset about the policy, but once it was better explained, the buyer understood and complied.
Acetone is not the only drugstore item being regulated with the hope of cracking down on meth production. In the past few years, federal laws have been passed requiring pharmacies to check IDs when customers try to purchase any cold and allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine, another ingredient used to make meth. Many common medications, including Sudafed and Claritin-D, contain the ingredient and are often kept behind pharmacy counters to prevent theft. According to the New York Times, CVS paid out a $77.6 million settlement after an investigation that found its stores sold mass quantities of cough medicine which can be used to create methamphetamine. CVS failed to prevent multiple purchases per day, and meth cooks flocked to its stores. The chain later said the sales were an "unacceptable breach" of policy and "totally inconsistent with our values."
Those who frequently change up their nail color or are looking to avoid the situation altogether have options. Acetone is a strong polish remover, but it's also very damaging to skin and nails, making them brittle. There are many nonacetone polish removers alternatives on the market that are less harsh and more nourishing. Some of them contain ethyl acetate, the solvent already found in most bottles of nail polish. Just check the label. Note that it may require a little more elbow grease to remove stubborn metallic or glittery lacquers with a nonacetone polish remover.
We contacted Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Duane Reade drugstores in New York City, too, and found that none of those chains has implemented a policy regarding the purchase of acetone. But keep that ID handy just in case anything changes.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, August 14, Yahoo! Shine received this update from CVS via Twitter: After reviewing the issue further purchasing products w/acetone (nail polish remover) will no longer require ID except in HI.