I love nail polish. Sometimes, a little too much. Looking at my polished nails always makes me a little happier. So, it really sucked when I closed my left index nail in a ladder at work last year and had to wait for it to grow out until I could paint it again. Luckily, it didn’t leave a permanent mark. Right now, I have a band aid on the same finger again cuz I chipped a nail in the pink part and have to wait til it grow out to the white to trim it off.
Anyways, because I wear nail polish so often, I became concerned about the fact that many nail polishes contain toxic chemicals like dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde.
DBP was included in nail polishes to act as a binder and improved the durability and made it more resistant to chipping for longer. According to the CSC: “DBP is a reproductive and developmental toxin that has been linked to feminizing effects in baby boys.”
Toluene is a solvent that was used in many nail polish formulations to dissolve other ingredients and make a nice smooth, easy-to-apply polish. After application to the nail, toluene will volatilize, or evaporate and leave a smooth, glossy finish.
According to the Centers for Disease Control:: “It affects the central nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Toluene is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin.”
Technically, nail polishes don’t contain straight formaldehyde, they contain a resin called tosylamide formaldehyde resin. This resin ensured that the polish adhered to the nail’s surface and made the polish tough and resilient. Interestingly, it seems that (TS-F-R), is a major allergen and can cause contact dermatitis. In fact, it can actually remain active and bioavailable for up to three days after painting your nails.
Other chemicals in nail polish that are a cause for concern are camphor and ethyl acetate. Camphor is a plasticizer like DBP and can be an irritant. Ethyl acetate is a solvent which the pigments and other ingredients are suspended, and which evaporates, leaving behind the colour (it’s responsible for the nail polish smell), which can also be an irritant.
Now, for the list of 3 free polishes: Butter London, Calvin Klein, China Glaze (black label), Color Club, Essie, Finger Paints, Hard Candy, Illamasqua, Maybelline New York Express Finish, Maybelline New York Salon Expert, Nicole by OPI, OPI and Sally Hansen Salon
3-Free, No Formaldehyde Resin: M.A.C, Milani, N.Y.C. Long Wearing, Nailtini (except Vodka), NARS, Nocti, Orly, PeaceKeeper, Pop Beauty Nail Glam, Rescue Beauty Lounge, SpaRitual and Wet n’ Wild
3-Free, No Formaldehyde Resin, No Camphor: Chanel, Dashing Diva, Dior, Estée Lauder, Givenchy, Lancôme, Deborah Lippmann, L’Oréal Paris, No-Miss, Nubar, NYC In A New York Color Minute, Revlon, Rimmel London 60 Seconds, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri, Sante, Shades by Barielle, Shu Uemura, Sinful Colors and Zoya
Water-based, 3-Free, No Formaldehyde Resin, No Camphor, No Ethyl Acetate: Acquarella, Honeybee Gardens, Sula and Suncoat