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Is Your Nail Polish Toxic?

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Is Your Nail Polish Toxic If you’re like me, you love to have pretty painted nails. They give off a strong, girly confidence vibe when they’re freshly painted, and give you the freedom to change your look whenever you want to based on your mood! Usually I stick with the traditional pink and red shades, but this summer I’ve branched out a little and used a gray, mint, and deep purple. Something I didn’t really think about though until a couple of years ago is that nails are part of our skin, and are porous. That means they absorb what we put on them (nail polish and polish remover) right into our bloodstream.

Conventional nail polish can be one of the most toxic beauty products around. Many contain a TON of harmful chemicals.

Toxins in Nail Polish

The idea of nail polish as a risky product gained traction in 2006 when public health advocates began a nationwide protest around 3 ingredients, commonly referred to as “the toxic trio” or “the big 3” in leading nail polish brands.

A recent California investigation found that even some salon brands labeled “non-toxic” had these 3 ingredients, even though they weren’t listed on the label. So sneaky and very dishonest, considering the care many of us take to keep toxins out of our bodies and off our fingernails.

Is Your Nail Polish Toxic

The trio consists of:

This known carcinogen is commonly used to preserve dead things and when used in lab preparations, there are strict warnings to avoid inhalation or skin contact. That should be a pretty big warning sign huh? When formaldehyde comes in contact with skin (which is what your nails consist of) it can cause contact dermatitis, blistering, and chemical burns. High levels can cause irregular heartbeat, pulmonary swelling, and has been linked to nasal and lung cancers by the International Agency for Research on Cancer Not something you’d really want on or in your body, yet it is a common ingredient in nail polish.

Dibutyl Phthalate, or DBP 
This chemical is banned in Europe and is unfortunately still used in cosmetics in the United States. The Environmental working group classifies this chemical as the highest danger level and warns that it can cause organ problems and endocrine disruption. It’s known to cause reproductive problems, nervous system toxicity, disrupt hormones, and developmental delays. It’s added to nail polish to make it more flexible and less prone to cracks, chips, and other annoyances.

This is added to nail polish to help keep it smooth and even when applied. It has also been linked to issues affecting the nervous system with symptoms that include dizziness, headaches, nausea, and eye irritation. It has also been linked to birth defects and developmental problems in children whose mothers were exposed to the chemical during pregnancy. This is another ingredient banned in Europe, but not the US. 

Is Your Nail Polish Toxic
Safer Polish Options?
So what’s a girl to do if she wants pretty nails? Luckily there are better brands of polishes out there. 

To find them, check the label of the nail polish to see if they are “Big 3” free. This is not a foolproof method, as some of the “non-toxic” labels on nail polishes are inaccurate.

There are a few brands though that I use and love that have been independently tested and shown to be safe options.

Poofy Organics and Vapour Beauty have been independently tested and shown to be safe nail polish options. They also work better than other organic and safe brands and don’t chip as quickly. Pick a pretty shade and paint (safely) away!

Nail Polish Remover

The remover can easily be as dangerous as the polish itself! According to the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database (a website where you can go to look up individual products, ingredients, etc. and see exactly how safe or unsafe they are for you to use with their ranking system), the remover I was using got a 10 – the highest and most toxic rating there is!

Stick to safer options. Poofy Organics has a great remover that works better than any other polish remover I had used before, plus it’s a 0 on the scale!


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