Shocking News About Non Toxic Nail Polishes that are Actually Toxic
You may have heard on the news that some brands of nail products labeled as non toxic were found to contain toxic chemicals.1
Many top brands of nail polish voluntarily removed the “Big 3″ (dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene and formaldehyde) from their formulas around 2006, in response to consumers and consumer advocacy groups. These were the three most toxic ingredients found in traditional nail polish. Phthalates, such as DBP, cause birth defects, including neurological and developmental issues in fetuses. Toluene is a neurotoxin that can irritate the upper respiratory system and also causes developmental damage in the fetus. Formaldehyde, which was mostly used in nail hardeners, is a carcinogen that is also known to cause respiratory problems.
This toxic trio of chemicals was never ban from use in cosmetics by the U.S. government, but consumers could protect themselves by opting for formulas that were 3 free. Or so we thought. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control randomly tested nail products used in California nail salons. Out of 12 brands tested that claimed not to contain one, two, or all three of these harmful chemicals, only two brands were able to stand by their claims.2 Five out of seven products tested which claimed to be 3 free contained high levels of DBP, toluene or both. What’s crazy is that products claiming to be 1, 2 or 3 free tended to have higher levels of DBP and toluene than products that made no such claims. The samples had to be diluted because of the high concentrations of DBP and toluene, which meant that the levels of formaldehyde could not be determined. This does not mean that the products were free from formaldehyde.
So if companies are mislabeling their products as non toxic when they actually contain toxins, how are we supposed to choose a safe product? My suggestion is to pass on the traditional solvent based polishes and go with a water based formula.
The Best Non Toxic Nail Polishes are Water Based
Even if a solvent based polish is truly 3 free, it will still contain strong chemical solvents, such as butyl acetate or ethyl acetate. These solvents evaporate quickly from freshly painted nails. The fumes not only smell bad, but can irritate your eyes and respiratory system. Also, the plasticizers used in place of DBP may be just as harmful.
Water based polishes, in contrast, are mostly water, with acrylic polymer and colorings dispersed throughout. The water gradually evaporates from the nails or soaks into the nail bed. It is best to use a water based nail polish right before bed, so that the polish can cure for 4-6 hours. Once all the water dissipates and the particles in the polish touch each other they form a hard film and are no longer soluble in water. So you can swim or bath and the polish will stay on your nails.
Recommended Non Toxic Nail Polish Brands
Non toxic nail polish brands include both nail polish for kids and for grown-ups. These suggestions are all long-lasting formulas, but there are also peel-off polishes on the market.
Water Based Nail Polish for Grown-ups:
Acquarella is a whole family of products developed to create a synergistic nail care system based on the most prevalent compound in the human body – water. Our mission is to provide clients, friends and family of all ages and gender, who love to wear nail polish, a safe, non-toxic, water-based alternative to conventional products that currently occupy the market.
- Score of 1, indicating low health concern, in the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
- Ingredients: water, styrene acrylates, acrylate copolymers, non toxic colorants, may contain: mica
- Price: $16/ bottle
Scotch Naturals™ polish has a lot in common with the women who wear it. We are smart, fun, and forward thinking. We care about the environment, and we come in a wide variety of colors. When we want to look and feel our best, we choose natural products, knowing it’s not just healthier for us, but for the world around us.
Our polishes contain none of the chemicals found in typical nail polish. We are “3 Free” as well free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone, and heavy metals. We are truly non-toxic.
- Ingredients: water, acrylic polymer emulsion, butoxy diglycol and non-toxic colorants
- Price: $14.99/ bottle
Best known for its expertise in water-based nail polish technology, Suncoat Products offers a complete line of water-based nail polish products as well as natural organic colour cosmetics. Standing out as the only long lasting and quick-drying water-based nail polish in today’s market place, Suncoat water-based nail polish is formulated based on an innovative technology which Suncoat Products Inc. invented (currently patent-pending). Suncoat water-based nail polish is now being distributed through natural health food retailers across Canada.
- Ingredients: Main ingredients: Aqua (water, ~65% in formula), acrylate copolymer / styrene-acrylate copolymer (~28% in formula) Other ingredients (all under 4%): propylene glycol n-butyl ether, dipropylene glycol dibenzoate. Pigments/colorant: may contain [+/-] mica (CI 77019), titanium dioxide (CI 77891), ferric ferrocyanide, iron oxide (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), chromium oxide (CI 77288), carmine (CI 75470)
- Price: Canadian $9.99/ bottle
Water Based Nail Polish for Kids:
We provide only the healthiest and safest cosmetics and body products for girls around the world. We have chosen to offer products that are earth-friendly and animal-friendly. Keeki Pure and Simple promises to never sacrifice on quality or safety of ingredients to make a profit.
- Score of 1, indicating low health concern in the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
- Ingredients: water, acrylate copolymer emulsion, glycol ethers, may contain: mica (CI 77019), red (CI 15850), blue (CI 77007), white (CI 77891), green (CI 77289) or black (CI 77499) pigments.
- Price: $9.99/ bottle
Hopscotch Kids™ WaterColors is the premier non-toxic, kid-friendly alternative to solvent-based nail polish. Our water-based formula is free of the harsh, smelly chemicals that most nail polishes contain, helping condition your little one’s nails with long-lasting, vibrant color. Hopscotch Kids contains none of the chemicals found in typical nail polish. We are “3 Free” as well as free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone, and heavy metals. We are truly non-toxic.
- Ingredients: water, acrylic polymer emulsion, butoxy diglycol, non toxic colorants
- Price: $11.99/ bottle
Piggy Paint is a natural, eco-friendly nail polish designed for fancy girls. Its non-toxic, hypoallergenic formula makes it safe to use on all piggies.
Piggy Paint dries to a hard, durable finish that can easily be removed with our eco-friendly, low odor Piggy Paint nail polish remover. Both are made in the USA!
Available in an assortment of gift sets perfect for Holidays and other special occasions. Say good-bye to harsh, smelly chemicals and hello to Piggy Paint…it’s as Natural as Mud®!
- Ingredients: Water, acrylates copolymers, butoxy diglycol, Neolone 950. May contain mica, red 34 lake, ultramarines, titanium dioxide, iron oxide pigments.
- Price: $8.99/ bottle
Learn more about the health concerns posed by nail polish by reading The Truth About Nail Polish Ingredients.
You can help support Pretty Painted Nails by purchasing through one of my affiliate links. There will be no extra cost to you, and I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.
What is your favorite brand of non toxic nail polish?
- Concerned advocates, companies respond to Calif. “toxic” nail polish report, CBS News Health Pop, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57412614-10391704/concerned-advocates-companies-respond-to-calif–toxic-nail-polish-report/ ↩
- California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substances Control, Summary of Data and Findings from Testing of a Limited Number of Nail Products, April 2012, http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/SaferNailProducts.cfm ↩