Toxic Free Nail Polish

How to buy safer and toxic free nail polish.


From Shellac to a good old-fashioned French manicure, many of us would never leave the house without a slick of nail polish.

And we increasingly visit nail salons to have our nails painted perfectly.

But the scientists and toxic free experts are warning that chemicals in nail care products contain toxic chemicals that can cause serious damage on our health.

Most nail polish is made with the same gunk used to make car paint. Yep, a toxic melange of solvents, film formers, resins and plasticisers. Whatever they are, doesn’t sound healthy. But that is not all.

The facts are: exposure to nail polish toxic chemicals can lead to issues ranging from cancer to fertility problems. So that is why I personally don’t wear the stuff anymore.

If you are not ready to give up on fancy painted manis and pedis, don’t worry, you don’t have to. The best you can do is to buy toxin-free and safer nail polish.


How to buy toxin-free nail polish

3 FREE – Most brands promoting themselves as ‘safe’ these days will label themselves as ‘3 FREE’. This means they’re free of the top three nasty ingredients:

Formaldehyde – It’s the stuff they use to preserve dead things. In labs, there is a strict protocol around avoiding getting it on your skin or breathing in its fumes! It’s a known human carcinogen and can cause ear, nose, throat and skin irritations.

Dibutyl Phthalate – It’s a known reproductive and developmental toxin, and is linked to hormonal and long-term fertility problems in newborn males.

Toluene – A possible reproductive and developmental toxin that causes headaches, dizziness and fatigue. It can cause liver, kidney and brain damage, as well as damage to a developing foetus.

I would also suggest you to avoid nail polishes with parabens, phthalates, solvents (ethyl acetate and butyl acetate), nitrocellulose, acetone and heavy metals.

Lately 4 FREE and 5 FREE polishes have exploded onto the market. These polishes are free from camphor or formaldehyde resin (4-free), or both (5-free). Why would you want to avoid these ingredients? Formaldehyde resin is a dermatitis-causing skin allergen that can remain active for up to three days after your polish has dried. And while camphor is a natural ingredient, exposure in large doses (especially through inhalation) can be toxic and cause irritation, nausea, dizziness, and headaches.

Find water-based polishes. These don’t give out fumes, are not flammable and you don’t need to use harsh removers.

When applying the polish, do it in a well-ventilated space or outside.


Beware of nail polish removers

Basically, all conventional types should be avoided due to the harsh ingredients, but also the potent fumes. Nail polish removers are just as bad as the polishes. They’re usually full of acetone, fragrances, methyl ethyl ketone, phthalates and toluene. Most of these cause significant damage to the human body.

The good news is that most natural water-based nail polishes can actually be removed without any nail polish remover (usually by soaking fingers in hot water and peeling or scraping polish off) and many of the natural polish brands have their own removers that are safe and toxin-free.


Don’t do Shellac

Gel manis may look great, last for weeks and save you time and money on regular salon visits, but they make up for it by compromising your health.

To remove gel polish your nails are soaked in or wrapped in acetone. Acetone is a very drying chemical and will cause your nail to become brittle and peel after repeated use.  Regular or high level exposure can also cause headaches, fatigue, stupor, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, increased pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and shortening of the menstrual cycle in women.

As with acrylic nails, the surface of your nail is usually abraded or roughed with an emery board before gel polish is applied. This will weaken your nail and lead to breakage and the possibility of infection.


Nail salons are a no go

Visiting a nail salon can be described as ‘chemical warfare’ and it does not take a science degree to know it is truth. Nail salons reek of toxic chemicals because they are just that – toxic! Chemicals (like those listed above) and other volatile organic compounds are used at such high levels that they can often cause headaches, irritations and breathing problems. Plus there are links to far longer reaching health issues such as cancer and reproductive issues.

Do Not enter a nail salon. Just don’t. If you do go, at the very least make sure you sit next to an open window. And some nail salons are going 3-free, so ask your nail technician if they’ve switched to “3-free”. If not take your own “3-free” color with you.

You have a choice!

Xo, Gery