Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eco Beauty: Nail Polish and Remover

Nail polish is an amazing beauty product. I justify having every color, maybe two of some, because I paint nails on set, but to be honest, I'm selfish and I like to save my favorites for myself. It's one of the first beauty products I was introduced to as a young girl at slumber parties and on special occasions. 

Adorning our nails has been customary for hundreds of years beginning with ancient Egyptians dying their nails with henna, and as of recently it's been getting bolder with nail art becoming mainstream. Check out my Pinterest nail art album to see what I mean.
Galaxy nail art, image from
But what is in nail polish is concerning for many of us. Nail polish, nail treatments and polish remover formulas have changed a great deal from their original natural formats to one of the most toxic beauty products we use. While plenty of brands have switched their formulas to omit some dangerous chemicals, you can still readily pick up a polish containing toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). These noxious ingredients are linked to cancer, birth defects, asthma, other breathing problems and are aggravating to allergy sufferers. Did you know nail polish with these ingredients are supposed to be disposed of by the city's hazardous waste collection department along with house paint and batteries? 

These chemicals may not be a concern for you personally. If you're in good health, not pregnant, and allergy-free you may decide the risk of harm is low. Others with more serious health concerns, with children in the home or who work with these chemicals on a daily basis may already be using one of the readily accessible 'three free' (that means no toluene, formaldehyde, or DBP) brands. Whatever your situation, it's advisable to do your nails in a well-ventilated room so you can avoid the nasty fumes.
Rose nail art with Essie, a Three-Free brand. Image from:

Salons and drugstores usually stock three free brands so you should never have a shortage of color selection. Some three free options to look for; American Apparel, MACNarsbutter London,  ZoyaHard Candy, EssieSally Hansen and most of the OPI color collections (flip the bottle over to see if the name sticker is black or green. The green is, you guessed it, three free). This is just a selection, so double check your favorite brand formula label if it's not here. 
OPI retro nails, image from

Three free brands still advertise this even if they contain formaldehyde or toluene resin, so be sure to check the ingredients if you're concerned. Brands that have taken healthier polish a step further by removing camphor and the two resins include Deborah LippmannDashing Divaand ChanelFor pregnant women, people with allergies, young children or cancer patients, you may feel more comfortable playing it even safer with brands designed for you such as Knocked Up NailsSpaRituals, or Priti NYC (also camphor and resin free). You'll still get great quality and a ton of fun colors to choose from. Or skip the polish and try nail stickers or simply buffing your nails.  

Priti NYC Soy Polish Remover and Knocked Up Nails Polish in 'Mint Chip at Midnight' and '18k Gold Crown(ing)' See, there are still safer, cool colored polishes out there!

If you're concerned about your polish ingredients, I would encourage you to look into your polish remover you use as well.  Ingredients to avoid include methanol, acetone, and petroleum. Priti Soy Nail Polish remover is my favorite polish remover. It's very effective, contains non-carcinogenic, non-toxic ingredients and it has a fabulous lemon grass aroma. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info. I love nail polish but hate knowing that I'm poisoning myself with every coat. Glad to learn that one of my favorites in Three Free!