Nail polish can be nasty stuff. Personally, the smell renders me almost unconscious (I have very sensitive olfactory buds). Ever wondered what's in the stuff that makes it smell so... toxic? Toxins. Go figure. Here's a run-down of the main toxins commonly found in nail polish:
- Dibutyl Pthalate (DBP): The most controversial of the 3 main offenders - it's banned in the EU but not here or in the US. It's what makes polish shiny and flexible but it's a known endocrine disruptor that causes problems with your reproductive system. It's especially renowned for causing hormonal issues in newborn males including long-term fertility problems - so pregnant women, steer clear.
- Toulene: A volatile solvent that can be inhaled and absorbed through nails and skin. Can screw around with your reproductive system. Can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Can also be listed as toluol or phenylmethane.
- Formaldehyde (formalin): A known carcinogen and causes skin irritation. Um, I used to use this to 'fix' tissues in the lab... not nice stuff.
That's okay, my polish is '3-free'
Ah-ha, that old chestnut. Don't be fooled by the '3-free' label, as many of the 'safe' brands still contain other synthetic ingredients that aren't great for you:
- Isopropyl alcohol: Moderate organ toxicity, eye, skin and lung irritation.
- Ethyl acetate: A solvent that's also used for perfume. Can cause eye, skin and lung irritation.
- Fragrance: Fragrances contain a cocktail of chemicals including phthalates, highly hazardous endocrine disruptors (stuffs around with your hormones and reproductive system). They can cause allergies, dermatitis and breathing problems. Aka 'parfum'. I stay away from any and all products with synthetic fragrances. Including perfume.
How to do toxin free:
I've compiled a handy listicle for you, in case you can't give the polish up entirely:
Save it for special occasions
At least this way you'll be reducing your exposure to any nasties.
Use a plant oil to polish your nails
It won't add colour, obviously, but it will give your nails a buffed and shiny look, and will condition your cuticles. Sweet almond or apricot oil is great for this.
Use water-based polishes
These don't give out potent fumes, you don't need to use harsh removers and they're not flammable. You'll find a list of some below.
Sit in a well-ventilated area
Outside or next to an open window is best. This way you won't be inhaling all the toxic fumes.
Don't enter a nail salon
Just don't. Or if you insist (for whatever reason), find one in an outdoor shopping strip and sit next to the open door.
Your safest bet is to avoid nail polish altogether.
Dispose of polish bottles as you would paint
Because, essentially, it is paint. Councils require you to dispose of nail polish bottles carefully along with paint cans and batteries via your local hazardous waste program. Bet you didn't know that.
These 4 brands are considered among the safest
There is no such thing as a 100% natural nail polish, but the brands listed below don't contain any of the 3 harshest ingredients or any acetates, chemical solvents or phthalates:
Got any natural polish tips or safe brands you would recommend?