Let’s face it – we all want beautiful, well-manicured fingers and toes. But, would you use chemicals found in car paint to achieve a glossy, chip-free shine? Conventional nail lacquers were inspired by automotive paint in the early twentieth century and refined by makeup artist, Michelle Menard, for the company known today as Revlon.
Our poor ancestors may have experienced toxic exposure, but we know better now…or, do we?
Many popular nail polishes on the market today still contain toxins including the toxic trio:
- Formaldehyde; a carcinogen. Can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and lead to skin irritation and dermatitis.
- Toluene; dry or cracked skin; headaches, dizziness, and numbness; irritated eyes, nose, throat, and lungs; damage to liver and kidneys; and harm to unborn children during pregnancy.
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP); linked to infertility, uterine cancer and testicular cancer. Exposure can affect thyroid function, and in utero exposure is linked to reproductive problems in baby boys and decreased sperm count.
But, the toxic buck doesn’t stop there. Nail polish can also contain camphor; linked to liver damage and formaldehyde resins. Add to this, the acetone and synthetic fragrance found in most nail polish removers and it’s enough to cause headaches, dizziness, irritated eyes, skin, and throat, affect the nervous system, cause liver damage and sometimes lead to cancer.
Even the U.S. Department of Labor states that products used in nail salons may contain chemicals that can adversely affect health. They advise proper ventilation and minimal exposure to chemicals absorbed into the body through the skin or lungs[i].
The brightly colored, disposable foam flip flops (do you see a non-green trend here?) don’t exactly pair well with a gas mask and hazmat suit. So, instead of waiting for an air purification system to be installed or legislation to ban these toxic chemicals from nail products, why not just create your own natural nail salon at home (or bring your own products with you)?
If you can’t locate a green salon in your neighborhood (click HERE for those in California), look for polishes that are ‘Three-Free’ or ‘Five-Free’ which do not contain the above listed chemicals and are ideally, water-based. While no nail polish is 100% natural, we all deserve to have healthy options – sans the toxins!
10 Toxic Free Nail Polishes
- PRITI NYC – Luxury, eco-friendly nail polish. PRITINYC polishes are ‘5-Free’ & vegan, completely non-toxic, and are free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and camphor. Available in over 100 different shades including metallics, mattes, brights, darks, nudes, and everything in between. The first line of non-toxic nail polishes for children, PRITI Princess nail polishes is perfect for the hands of tiny fashionistas. *Not rated on Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $15.00/bottle
- Londontown USA – These lakur polishes are ‘5-Free:’ formaldehyde-free, toluene-free, DBP-free, formaldehyde resin free and camphor-free. Additionally, their kur‘s Restorative Nail Cream is paraben-free and the Strengthening Lacquer Remover is acetone-free. All products are vegan, gluten-free and cruelty-free. *Not rated on EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $22.00/bottle
- Sheswai Lacquer – Sheswai (pronounced she-sway). Made from a sustainably harvested wood, their caps reduce the use of plastic. The formula is ‘3-Free’; free of formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP’s. *Not rated EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $16.00/bottle
- Piggy paint – Besides the cutest name of the bunch, Piggy Paint polishes are water based, non-toxic and low odor. There are no toxic chemicals; free of formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, Bisphenol A, ethyl acetate and acetone. *Received a 2 for toxicity EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database (*the basecoat received a 0). Price: $8.99/bottle
- Zoya – The first to become ‘5-Free’ by remove toxic ingredients such as toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP from its formulations. Zoya focuses on the health and well being of salons, spas and consumers. *Not rated on EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price $9.00/bottle
- Beauty without Cruelty – All items are fragrance free and 100% vegetarian. Nail colors are free of toluene, formaldehyde, and phthalates (3-Free). *Received a 2 for toxicity in the EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $17.95/bottle
- Keeki – All Keeki Pure and Simple products are 100% gluten free, tested and approved 100% acetone free and 100% soy free. They use no parabens, phthalates, toluene, formaldehyde, acetone, synthetic fragrance or nanoparticles. *Rated a 2 in EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $9.00/bottle
- Obsessive Compulsive – Vegan and cruelty-free, all polishes adhere to the ‘5-Free (formaldehyde-free, toluene-free, DBP-free, formaldehyde resin free and camphor-free). *Received a 2 for toxicity in the EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $10.00/bottle
- Poofy Polish –This polish is ‘5-Free;’ formaldehyde, toluene, DBP & camphor free! *Rated a 1 for toxicity in the EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database Price: $10.00/bottle.
- Acquarella – This nail polish utilizes a water-based solvent and an engineered safe co-polymer structure. It’s virtually odorless, dries quickly, and has excellent shine and wear without a base or top coat. *Rated a 1 for toxicity in the EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $16.00/per bottle
4 Toxic Free Nail Polish Removers
- *Acquarella – An acetone- and fragrance-free remover. *Received a hazard score of 0 in the EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database (insert smiley face). Price: $9.00/bottle
- *Poofy Supernaturals This unscented nail polish remover contains no chemical smell, and is biodegradable, toxic free, earth friendly, acetone free, acetate free, ethyl lactate free, vegan- and gluten-free. *Received a 0 for toxicity EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database (happy dance). Price: $12.00/bottle
- PRITI NYC Soy Nail Polish Remover – 100% biodegradable, non-toxic, and non-carcinogenic, the remover is also housed in an apothecary style bottle that is completely recyclable. Infused with soybean esters, it’s naturally derived, and contains either lemongrass essential oils or unscented. No acetone, no carcinogens! *Not rated on the EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $9.90/bottle and up.
- Keeki Pure and Simple Polish Remover – This 100% biodegradable remover smells like coconut and contains no harsh solvents like acetone. *Rated a 1 for toxicity EWG Skin Deep® cosmetics database. Price: $9.99/bottle
*Indicates a zero-toxicity rating in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® cosmetics database.
[i] US Department of Labor, Health Hazards in Nail Salons https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/nailsalons/chemicalhazards.html
Feature image courtesy of Joy Banerjee