How safe is your nail polish?

Many of us enjoy and even look forward to that manicure appointment. Adding a dash of style to our nails is always fun and exciting. However, it is important to note that it can come at a cost. The odour you are exposed to in nail salons is not only strong, but also rather toxic.

Nail polish requires a vast array of ingredients to ensure it sticks to the nails, keep them from chipping, helping them dry quickly, spread smoothly, and not dissolve in water. These ingredients also make nail polish one of the most toxic products to be used on humans. This vast array of ingredients usually includes The Big Three, or Toxic Trio – Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate, and Toluene. There has been much talk recently of this The Big Three, and for good reason.

Take formaldehyde for example, this substance is used as a nail hardener in nail polishes. But in hardening your nails, formaldehyde could simultaneously be upping your chances of getting cancer, considering it is a known carcinogen.

Dibutyl Phthalate is not a carcinogen, but it does have its own bad news as well. This chemical which is used in nail polish to ward off chips and cracks, has been linked to reproductive issues, and is banned completely by the European Union. Recently, studies have shown that phthalates are also related to risk of diabetes in women.

Toluene is used as an ingredient to ensure smooth application of nail paint, and there is a lengthy list of bad things it could do to your body. Toluene is a volatile organic compound (VOC) and has been known to affect the nervous system, and to cause dizziness, headaches, eye irritation, nausea, birth defects, developmental abnormalities, as well as liver and kidney damage.

After much prodding by the public in 2006-7, a few big nail polish companies started manufacturing their products without The Big Three. Although this is good news, there are still other dangerous chemicals including ethyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol, fragrances, dyes and more that could be lurking in your nail polish. Always check your ingredient list to ensure it is free of these. Use Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to check the safety of the ingredients. Even if the nail polish label claims to be toxins-free or safe, you should probably still poke around the ingredients listed so as to make sure it is not a false claim.

Many nail polishes do not contain an ingredient list on them. It would do you good to stay away from these. Go for trusted organic or natural brands that are transparent about their ingredients, and do not contain The Big Three, or other harmful toxins. the daily green advises you to BYOP, or Bring Your Own Polish, if you do not trust the nail polishes the nail salon offers. Also, jonbarron.org suggests you choose a nail salon that is well ventilated so that the toxic fumes do not get into your system.

However, note that you can never be sure if your nail polish is truly chemical-free and completely safe, so even if you find nail polish with minimal chemicals, use it in moderation.

Editor’s note: Eco alternatives are available at The Naturally Better Company, which offers manicure services and retails Priti NYC nail polish, while Bud Cosmetics retails Sante and Organic Glam nail polish. Coming soon – a review on our manicure experience at The Naturally Better Company, look out for it!

Article contributed by Vaishnavi Sairaj

Image taken from taviivat

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