Painting your nails is a wonderful way to express yourself, accent your wardrobe and showcase your personal style. But in recent years, there has been growing concern that long-term exposure to conventional nail polish may pose an array of troubling health risks.
You’re probably familiar with the old adage “beauty is pain.” But you shouldn’t have to suffer serious health consequences to experience the joy of beautiful hands, feet and nails. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), prolonged exposure to the potentially hazardous chemicals found in conventional nail polishes has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fainting and breathing problems, and conditions ranging from asthma to cancer.
Even if you don’t work at a nail salon, you may want to think about the potential health effects of chemicals commonly found in polishes. While many are now considered “three-free,” you can check the label to make sure your nail polish doesn’t contain the trinity of potentially toxic chemicals:
- Formaldehyde. Helps nail polish harden and maintains its freshness over time.
- Toluene. Helps nail polish remain smooth.
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Helps nail polish stay flexible and resistant to chipping
Some nail polish brands take safety a step further by omitting additional chemicals. For example, “five free” polishes do not contain any of the ingredients listed above or either of the following:
- Formaldehyde resin. Helps smooth and harden nail polish.
- Camphor. Promotes nail polish flexibility.
Fortunately, these chemicals (and several other potentially harmful ones) aren’t necessary for a bold, beautiful, long-lasting manicure. And even though nail polishes aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some brands pledge to leave out the top three potential toxins. Following are five polish brands that go the extra mile to help safeguard your health:
If you’re looking for “amazing vibrant colors that go on smooth and stay put,” you need to try Pacifica nail polish. It’s vegan, cruelty-free and “seven-free,” which means it’s void of seven potentially hazardous chemicals commonly found in traditional nail polishes. Pacifica 7 Free nail color is available in a variety of stylish shades, but we’re kind of partial to Desert Princess.
In addition to being free of FD&C colors, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, xylene and formaldehyde, this brilliant brand offers water-based polishes that are free of fumes and odors. You won’t even need nail polish remover to swap out your color—it disappears with rubbing and vodka/grain alcohols! Check out this shimmery shade of Fairy Dust!
This brand brings you a “healthier alternative to traditional nail polish.” The long-lasting chip-resistant formula is available in an array of eye-catching colors, and the custom, extra-thick brush helps ensure a flawless application. Perhaps best of all, you won’t find any camphor, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde or toluene on the product label. Try it in Blushing Crystal!
This brand boasts that it’s revolutionary polishes are 85 percent natural—and free of camphor, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and toluene. And don’t even get us started on their thousand filament brush, which “collects the right amount of enamel, covering the entire nail with one stroke.” Take a look at the fast-drying, four-piece Glam at Night Collection.
This is another nail polish brand you can feel good about. It’s odorless, VOC-free and void of the usual suspects, like FD&C dyes, formaldehyde and toluene. Specially designed for children ages three and up, this water-based Eye Candy polish is perfectly peelable—no harsh nail polish remover required!