Stick to non-toxic nail polish to avoid carcinogens and hormone-disruptors. Make the switch to one of these safer nail polishes.
I very rarely go to the nail salon, and it’s not because I don’t like getting pampered. Ten years ago, I used to go every two weeks to get my acrylic nail fill-ins. Nowadays, the minute I enter a nail salon my lungs scream at me to leave immediately. The fumes of most nail salons contain toxic chemicals that I prefer not to spend time around. Let’s dive in.
Did you know that 89% of the 10,000 chemicals in personal care products have not been tested for safety? And, that the FDA currently only bans 30 chemicals from our personal care products? While they only list 11 banned ingredients, the remaining ones live under different laws.
Meanwhile, the European Union has banned close to 1,400 harmful chemicals and ingredients from personal care products. In Canada, the number of restricted ingredients is a little less than half that, at around 600.
California usually leads the way for progress, and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative has been fighting to pass legislation to make nail salons safer. Until the United States passes health-protective regulations, we have to become educated consumers and educators for safer beauty.
As the saying goes, we vote with our dollars. When you choose to buy from safer brands, you will put the pressure on manufacturers to create safer alternative products. Win-win!
Why You Should Switch to Non-Toxic Nail Polish
Nail polish contains toxic chemicals that can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, and throat, and cause a host of other health concerns. Many of these ingredients are also considered endocrine disruptors.
What are Endocrine Disruptors?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that, at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone) system. These disruptions can cause birth defects, reproductive disorders, developmental disorders, or cancerous tumors. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be affected by hormone disruptors.
What makes up the endocrine system?
- Pituitary Gland – plays a major role in regulating vital body functions and general well-being. It is referred to as the body’s ‘master gland’ because it controls the activity of most other hormone-secreting glands.
- Thyroid Gland – produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood and bone maintenance.
- Adrenal Gland – secrete different hormones which act as ‘chemical messengers’. These hormones travel in the bloodstream and act on various body tissues to enable them to function correctly.
- Pancreas – aids in food digestion and to produce hormones that mainly serve to control levels of energy in the blood.
- Sexual Glands – these produce the male and female hormones that affect reproduction
Avoid these chemicals by choosing nail polishes that are labeled 3-free, 5-free, 7-free, 8-free, or 10-free. So, which additives should you make sure are not included?
Top Toxic Ingredients in Nail Polish
There are several toxic ingredients in nail polish. For the sake of clarity, I’m going to divide them by the types of nail polishes (five-free, etc) and what they exclude from their formulations.
3 Free Nail Polish
The top three ingredients you should steer clear from are formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. These are the worst offenders in nail polishes. If advocacy and social change is important for you, you should look for nail polishes without the toxic trio.
Formaldehyde: This known carcinogen is commonly used in the embalming process and as a nail hardener. There are strict warnings to avoid inhalation or contact with the skin. Ten years ago I used a nail hardener whose main ingredient was formaldehyde. When I read the ingredients, I immediately threw it away.
Toluene: Extended exposure to the chemical Toluene can lead to headaches, dizziness, and, in severe cases, more serious reproductive damage.
Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): The chemical works to prevent nail polish from becoming brittle but has been proven to impair the hormonal development of male fetuses and in some cases cause early-onset menopause.
3-free, with over 1,000 shades.
5 Free Nail Polish
5-free polishes exclude the top 3 toxic ingredients (formaldehyde, toluene, DBP) but they also exclude camphor and formaldehyde resin.
Formaldehyde resin: a by-product of formaldehyde that makes its way into nail polish formulas that include formaldehyde. Preliminary studies show that can cause severe skin irritation and allergic reactions, skin depigmentation and loss of nerve sensation.
5-free. Over 80 shades, some are vegan.
7 Free Nail Polish
7 free nail polishes exclude all of the toxic ingredients of 5 free formulas, but go a few steps further by barring the follow two chemicals.
Xylene: Negative effects can cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Triphenyl phosphate: The chemical can wreak havoc on your hormones and is potentially toxic to liver cells.
ella + mila
7-free, made in the USA. Certified by PETA.
7-free nail polish safe for kids. How cute!
8 Free Nail Polish
8 free formulas are free from all of the previously mentioned chemicals in addition to ethyl tosylamide and triphenyl phosphate.
Ethyl tosylamide: a plasticizer that helps transform polish from drippy to dry in minutes. This chemical has been barred from cosmetics in Europe over concerns of antibiotic resistance.
Triphenyl phosphate: also known as TPP, affects the human nervous system, in addition to affecting hormones in embryos.
8-free. Colors las 10 days.
Smith & Cult
8-free, and sleek packaging perfect for Instagram.
8-free, long-lasting colors and nail care that promote stronger and healthier nails, named after the streets of New York.
9 Free Nail Polish
Nine-free is free from parabens and/or acetone.
Parabens: Parabens mimics the hormone estrogen and have been associated with breast tumors.
Acetone: The chemical has been ruled safe by the FDA for the most part but if inhaled can cause a sore throat and inflammation.
lakur by Londontown
9-free polish made in the USA. Cruelty-free.
10 Free Nail Polish
Ten-free which is free from any harmful additives plus animal byproducts which make the products vegan. While I am not vegan, I do feel it’s important to stop animal testing of our beauty products. If there’s a risk that it wouldn’t be safe for an animal, then it shouldn’t be manufactured for humans, period.
Personally, this is the category of nail polishes I want to purchase from. And, given how long it takes me to go through a nail polish, the extra dollars are negligible.
Zoya is a 10-free formula brand with endless color options. Plus it has over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon.
USA-made and 10-free, Cote specializes in the perfect nudes.
in French Rose
10-free formula. 90% of ingredients are based from wood pulp, cotton, maize, potato, and wheat to maintain the vitality of nails by respecting their natural regenerative cycle.
There you have it! It’s totally possible to have gorgeous polished nails using safer beauty! I actually don’t mind painting my own nails, so I treat myself to mani pedis at home. Will you?
I hope you found this article on non toxic nail polish helpful and informative. Make sure to pin this for later. And reach out with any questions!