Traditional Nail Polish - A Big Risk for Beauty
by Katie on November 28th, 2011

Nail color in various forms has been around since ancient times. What we know today as nail polish was inspired by automobile paint from the 1920s. Unfortunately traditional nail polish isn’t much safer than car paint. Traditional polishes & removers contain many dangerous ingredients and the worst are the three mentioned below. Click on the links to view more detailed information on them on the cosmetic toxicity database.

Main Offenders:
  • Formaldehyde: Is a known carcinogen. It is also released by many preservatives used in cosmetics.
  • Dibutyl Phthalate: We’ve all heard by now to avoid phthalates, and DBP is no different. It is a reproductive and developmental toxicant.
  • Toluene: Is a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea. Mothers’ exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may cause developmental damage in the fetus.

How do chemicals in nail polish reach you?
There are two main ways that these chemicals enter your body. First, your fingernails are much more porous than even your skin and directly below your nail plate are blood vessels. The chemicals that you put on your nails can penetrate your nail and make it into your blood stream. Additionally, nail polish dries by evaporating chemicals into the air which you then breathe. These chemicals are particularly concerning for fetuses as well so pregnant women should avoid them!

Many nail polish brands are starting to eliminate some of these most toxic chemicals. Even OPI has some 3-free polishes which is a good start. However, if you use the cosmetic toxicity database and search for OPI, you’ll see that the results are still unsettling.

Why go non-traditional?
There are many benefits to using more natural polishes in addition to not exposing yourself to toxins. I’ll give you some benefits of the ones we use here at Alma. First, they are vegan-friendly and not tested on animals. They are free of all toxic chemicals making it safe for you to breathe and put on your nails – and imagine the positive impact on those who work with polish on a daily basis. The polishes and removers smell much better, and some actually smell good. Additionally, our water-based polish option actually hydrates the nail as it dries. And, the polishes look great on your nails with a fabulous selection of colors. Plus, we’ve had many people say that our Karma Organic polish is the longest lasting manicure they’ve ever had. If you can go healthy and not sacrifice quality, why wouldn’t you?

How to know if your it is safe?
1. Make sure the polish is at least 3-free (this will likely be advertised!)
2. Ask the company to send you a list of ingredients. If they won’t – start to worry.
3. Next, use the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Toxicity Database to get information on a specific brand – you can search by brand or by specific ingredient.
4. Regarding the remover, at a minimum avoid acetone. It can be contaminated with formaldehyde and has been shown to cause mental confusion in animals.

Here’s to a healthier day!
Katie


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