This is just a quick review post for those of you that may be considering investing in this line.

At Unvarnished, we were excited to offer a polish line developed by physicians. We believed that the concept would be well-received by our patients, many of whom are very health conscious and concerned about the chemicals used in traditional lacquers. At $14 a bottle (our cost), keeping the retail price per bottle reasonable was not easy. We decided to retail them for $19 a bottle. Although the price was high, the polishes sold based on the fact that they were formulated by physicians and the fact that their marketing exploits their demographic’s fears. Pregnant women fear the potential harm the polish could do to the baby and everyone is afraid of developing a fungus.

First of all, we all know that the majority of major polish lines are now three-free. Several are five-free, and a few are 7 or 10-free. (So, pregnant women, fear not. Your nail polish will not melt your fetus in utero.) Those of us with half a brain know that no polish can treat or cure nail fungi or cure any kind of nail disorder, so marketing it like it’s some kind of magical product that will do so is just insulting to the intelligence of their consumers and to the intelligence of the nail technicians and podiatrists who carry it.

On the “about” page of their website, the doctors who formulated Dr.’s Remedy realized “a top reason patients come into their office is because of brittle, discolored nails, often times associated with the harsh chemicals in commercial nail polish. Together, they created a line of nail polish to combat this epidemic.”

And this is where I roll my eyes and say, “Only a doctor would create a polish line and retail it for almost $20 to ‘combat’ a nonexistent ‘epidemic.’

Salon quality polishes do not cause brittleness or discoloration because they don’t contain the chemicals that cause those issues. (If they did, we certainly wouldn’t be using them.) If a patient has brittle, discolored nails that isn’t due to genetics, injury, or a disorder of some kind, it’s likely because she’s purchased some cheap, garbage polish at her local drugstore or Dollar General and applied it directly to her nails without any kind of base coat. It’s likely that she wore this polish for an extended period of time without removing it.

Nail technicians know these clients. These clients prefer to pile on coat after coat of polish over the course of several months instead of removing it properly and painting fresh coats on.

This patient is not very likely to purchase a $20 bottle of “enriched” polish. If this patient were willing to pay $20 for a bottle of polish, she would have dropped it on a designer label like Butter or Dior. If she were willing to spend even half of that on a bottle of polish, she would have dropped $8 or $10 on a fashionable yet affordable line like OPI or Essie.

Clearly, she wasn’t.

Instead of purchasing either of these, she chose to purchase some unknown brand on clearance (perhaps regularly priced at $1.50, on sale for $0.25 at her local Pik N Save). Now that she’s removed the 20+ coats of Corvette Red polish she’s brushed on every week for three months, her nail plates are stained varying shades of pink and yellow until they grow out. That’s what happens when you buy polishes with cheap pigments and apply them without base.

These polishes, however, are so hard to find that they could in no way be considered an “epidemic,” but I’ll talk more about that later. It seems that these doctors don’t understand the core reason their patients are experiencing these problems, likely because they’re asking the wrong questions or because feigned ignorance benefits their marketing angle. In any case, women experiencing these problems probably aren’t suffering from “harsh nail polish chemicals;” they’re more likely suffering from irresponsible nail care, poor nutrition, a nail disorder, or a systemic disorder.

The polishes were inconsistent. Some were very thin and watery and some were as thick as mud. Anyone who applies polish professionally knows the consistency a long-lasting polish requires. Dr.’s Remedy did not have that consistency.

Many of the colors had poor coverage. For a polish that markets itself to clients with nail disorders, many colors were not opaque enough to cover the discoloration on my clients with bruising (runners and ice skaters). This wasn’t an issue that could have been solved with an extra coat. It would have required several extra coats.

Shortly after purchasing the products, client complaints came rolling in. Two days after their pedicures, the polish was chipping off. This was not a problem I had with just one client. Damn near every client who purchased the polish was complaining.

Let me make this clear: it was not my application method.

I’ve been applying nail polish professionally for the last 12 years. My pedicures last for six weeks (at minimum) and my manicures last anywhere from 1-3 weeks. I have a few clients with hard natural nails that came back at 4 weeks with minimal chipping, thanks to their adherence to my home care routine, which requires periodic reapplication of top coat.

I used the entire Dr.’s Remedy system from base coat to top coat, as directed. Still, the polish chipped off.

Normally I would explain to the clients that Dr.’s Remedy does not contain the same chemicals that other polishes do (DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde resin) and therefore may not last as long. However, SpaRitual does not contain DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde resin either and that polish is the longest lasting, most durable four-free polish I have ever used. Zoya is five-free and lasts just as long. Both are vegan as well and cost far less than Dr.’s Remedy.

We quickly made the decision to pull the line. We contacted the company to arrange for a refund. Getting it was not easy. It took several phone calls and a lot of aggravation to get that accomplished. (Even then, we ended up getting stuck with a portion of the polish, which we clearanced out at $5 a bottle just to get rid of it.)

There is my short, sweet, and accurate review of the Dr.’s Remedy polish. In my opinion, this brand needs a lot more work before it’s ready to stand up against competing lines and they certainly don’t seem to understand the industry they’re trying to enter, or the competing products within it. I absolutely do not consider it worth the amount of money they’re charging per bottle.

If you’re going to charge premium polish prices, you had better be sure it performs better than its less expensive competitors.

This one does not–at least not yet. While I completely disagree with their marketing claims and their angle, I believe that with a bit of work (and a price adjustment), the line can be successful. However, as it stands, this looks to me like a cash grab based on the fact that it leverages the fears of uneducated consumers utilizing the implied authority of a physician’s endorsement. I just can’t get behind that.

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


  1. Wow, I must be the exception. Colors are gorgeous, my last pedi lasted almost 3 months (by necessity) and no chipping. I wholeheartedly endorse it just as I do OPI or any of the other Big Boys.

    • Hi Mary! I’d be shocked beyond belief if they hadn’t changed their formula by now. I think it’s pretty likely that they’ve improved the product based on your experience. When I used them, they had literally just released.

  2. Thank you so much for the educated write up! We found your article while searching for a place to purchase DrR. If it’s too good to be true, it is!

  3. Tina..
    Is there ANYTHING that can be done for yellow nails?
    So ugly! Soaking in lemon juice will take the rest of my natural life.
    I want to wear polish and always have but not to hide ugly, yellowed nails!

    • Why are your nails yellowed? Before you can solve the problem, you have to know what caused it. Are you wearing deep reds without base coat? I find that most of the time, yellow staining comes from highly pigmented polishes (usually cheaper varieties) being applied without a base coat.

  4. This review surprises me! I use Drs. Remedy on my toes exclusively, because of the toenail fungus I got and cannot get rid of. I won’t go to a nail salon anymore for fear of passing it along, so I’ve learned to do my own pedis. Their polish actually makes my bad toenail better. Nothing seems to cure it, but this polish seems to keep it at bay, when other polishes made it much worse (and painful). And while I do use a base coat, three color coats, and a top coat, it’s actually kind of difficult to remove. It won’t chip and stays shiny for weeks (seriously). I do prepare my nails really well with buffing etc but I assume you do that too. The other thing I love about it is that I can actually use it on my finger tips. After a long process of elimination, my doctor and I determined several years ago that my regular (good) nail polish was causing my eyelids to turn red and itchy and peel, from touching my face. So I couldn’t use any polish at all on my fingers. One day, I took a chance on Drs. Remedy and was thrilled to find that clear is okay – no reaction! (I haven’t been brave enough to try a color just yet!) To be fair, I’ve only tried one color on my toes because it is pricey and I’m only using it on my toes, so one color has been okay but I just decided to jump online and treat myself to another color and found your review. The color I have is Peaceful Pink Coral; I’ve been using it since my wedding in April 2016. Not sure why my results have been so dramatically different, but for what it’s worth, that’s what has happened!

    • This post was originally published in early-2013, and I highly doubt the product would have survived very long at all without significant changes to the formulation. Based on your experience, it sounds like those changes have been made. Although I still can’t see myself supporting a product that tries to present itself as any form of treatment for fungal nails (because it is NOT that, which is why they’re still very careful about the wording they choose in their marketing materials), it’s nice to hear that apparently the product has improved. The prices have also come down quite a bit, and it looks like they’re focusing more on promoting the ingredient list, rather than the extremely and intentionally misleading “these ingredients combat fungus” language they previously leaned on–all of which are positive changes.

  5. Although it’s not my favorite product, I’ve found it to be the only one that that does not leave white marks or discoloration behind when removed. I was for many years fastidious with a monthly pedicure and attributed the white spots to nail damage from being both a runner and dancer. Once I stopped having the excuse of athletics causing damage, I realized that all polishes (including Spa Ritual) cause a leukonychia reaction. I even did a round of Lamisil because I thought it was fungus. At my doctors advice I grew out my nails polish free and they were healthy, but I attributed that to the meds. I ended up getting a Spa Ritual pedicure as part of a bridesmaid pre wedding ritual and when I removed the polish a couple weeks later the white spots had returned but then my nails grew in again just fine. After much trial and error with vegan and non toxic polishes, Dr. Remedy is somehow this is the ONLY polish that doesn’t cause this reaction. Again, I’m not a huge fan of Dr. Remedy (colors are runny and sheer even when they’re supposed to be dark and opaque, and the color selection itself is uninspiring at best) but since I have some sort of super sensitivity, it’s my only option for now.

    • Those white spots and patches that appear on the nail plate are a hot topic of debate in professional circles. Nobody really knows what causes them. Theories range from dehydration to fungus to chemical exposure to calcium deposits, but the most credible theory I’ve seen so far is one put forward by my friend Anna ( who has done a ton of testing on her own clients and has resolved their issues. She was able to duplicate the conditions under which they acquired the whiteness as well. Here’s what she wrote about it. It’s fascinating how we still have no real idea what causes some of these issues.


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