Conscious Beauty Edit: What's in our nail polish?
Have you ever considered that the nail polish you apply to your nails could have an impact on your health?
In this blog post we explore the reasons why you might want to rethink your nail polish, gels or acrylics next time you need a touch-up.
So what’s the fuss you say? There are two main issues with regular nail polish.
No one wants to think about it but regular nail polish, gels and acrylics simply wreck your nails for a whole host of reasons including nail thinning, brittleness and yellow staining and no, it’s not normal. Let’s not forget other possible damages including infection, bacteria, fungus and viruses. Yep. Gross. Some people may dismiss these so called ‘minor’ issues by ‘painting it over’ but that’s only disguising the fact and solving a short term problem which won’t go away easily. This is not putting myself on a high horse either, don’t worry because I’ve been there too.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the 'pretty colours we like to put on our nails, is the unnecessary exposure to hormone-disrupting and potentially cancer-causing chemicals found in most traditional nail polishes, the three most harmful being formaldehyde, toluene, and Dibutulphalate (DBP) known as the ‘toxic trio’. These chemicals can be especially harmful to children and pregnant women.
Formaldehyde has been declared carcinogenic by National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other research groups that conducted studies that documented potential links between formaldehyde exposure and increased risk of cancer among humans. DBP is a phthalate used as a ‘softener’ in nail polishes, is banned in Europe and is considered to be carcinogenic, mutagenic and a cause of reproductive issues. And what about Toluene? A chemical found predominantly in petroleum with a list of long term exposure health effects on the central nervous system. Not to mention all the other nasties that you can find including plasticisers (to keep the product flowing in the bottle), solvents, colorants, and specialty filters (to create various specialised effects on the nails).
It really makes you wonder why nail polishes can even have these chemicals in them in the first place?
So is there such thing as a natural, non-chemical nail polish?
Short answer no. There aren’t any products on the market that can claim no artificial chemicals in them because there isn’t any. But the good news is as a result of the increasing demand for more healthy, natural nail alternatives, several companies are responding with amazing products that have eliminated a lot of the harmful chemicals with the introduction of ‘free from’ nail polishes.
What are ‘free from’ nail polishes?
There is a range of three free, five, seven and even thirteen-free formulas on the market, which have removed some of the nasties.
Three free means the product is free of the three main toxic ingredients formaldehyde, toluene and DBP.
Five free nail polishes go a step further in addition to removing the main three also don’t contain Formaldehyde Resin or Camphor.
Seven free products also remove the ingredients Ethyl Tosylamide and Andxylene. And finally,
Thirteen free products have removed all of the above PLUS no parabens, Rosin, Nickel, Triphenyl Phosphate, Acetone, Heptane and Ethyl Tosylamide and arguably the ‘cleanest’ polishes on the market.
Armed with this knowledge what can we do? The choice is yours but here are some things to consider next time you are planning your next mani-pedi…
We recommend you think twice about using any kind of conventional nail polish at all and rid it completely from your beauty routine and household. Did you know that nail polish is considered to be hazardous waste and should be disposed of correctly? Contact your local council for details on how to do this.
When making the switch look to a cleaner, greener and more conscious product on the market look for something that is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, plant-based and breathable which means it will be safer for children and pregnant women too. Always choose brands that fully disclose the ingredients list.
When it comes to overall exposure to chemicals in our beauty routines we need to think about our lifetime build up and exposure to toxic chemicals over the long term and ways we can minimise this through the choices we make. The less chemicals we are exposed to each day the better.
While ‘free from’ nail polishes are better options, they are not the be all and end all. Although brands tell you what these new products don’t contain, it is not entirely clear what ingredients they do still contain. In reality, there is a high chance there are still nasty chemicals in there even though three, five, seven, or even thirteen of them have been ‘removed’.
Eco store Biome bring to light a great point and that is ‘part of the problem is when brands remove certain chemicals to be “free of”, what are they replaced by? Is the substitution just as toxic? It’s hard to know because of the 1000’s of chemicals used in cosmetics very few have ever had full safety testing.’
It’s not only what you put on your nails but also how you take off your nail polish which needs just as much consideration. There are just as many chemicals in nail polish removers, if not more.
If you want to stay clear of chemicals all together your safest bet is not to use nail polish at all!
Until next time,