Solvents (in the context of nail products as water is a solvent) are chemicals such as acetone, ethyl acetate, methyl acetate, butyl acetate, toluene. They are able to dissolve certain products or break their bonds. They are commonly used in nail polishes and nail polish removers. They are usually volatile and are the method used to dry nail polish as they keep the product liquid until they are exposed air and will evaporate and leave the pigments and other ingredients (such as plastisers etc) as a nail coating. They are also used in nail plate dehydrators to cleanse and degrease the nail in the preparation for a coating application.
Pathogens (with the possible exception of fungal spores) are unable to survive in a product with a high level of solvents. This is why it is safe to use nail polish on several clients without spreading any pathogens
(Also see alcohols)