Non-toxic nail polish? Nail polish may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of harmful toxins but if you take a deeper look you’ll find there are reasons to avoid it or to find healthier alternatives. I’ve found some great choices of non-toxic nail polish that are free of DBP, Toluene and Formaldehyde.
Nail polish is something that I’ve never tried to tackle, and I don’t think I will.
I’m honestly not a nail polish kind of girl but since I have two daughters who love to paint their nails I’ve picked up a few bottles to keep on hand for special occasions and rainy days.
Several years ago I watched an episode of The Doctors TV show where they covered toxins in home that most people were unaware of. Nail polish was mentioned as something to avoid during pregnancy. At the time I was 8 months pregnant with my son and had coincidentally just painted my toenails…
I’ve always thought it strange when specific foods, cleaning supplies and personal care products would be listed on the no-no list for pregnant woman. Something I’ve always pondered is, If it’s not safe for pregnant woman is really safe for anyone?
Hidden Toxins In Nail Polish
Most nail polishes contain ingredients that have been shown to disrupt hormones and are known to be carcinogenic. Whenever in doubt, I use EWG (Environmental Working Group) skin deep database to look up ingredients.
Below I’ve listed a few common ingredients in nail polish that score in the “red” zone (high hazard) on EWGs website. Let’s take a look a them:
About DIBUTYL PHTHALATE: The State of California and other authoritative bodies have classified dibutyl phthalate (DBP) as a reproductive and developmental toxicant, and the European Union banned the use of this ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products. In animal studies, exposure to DBP during gestation causes infertility, cryptorchidism and problems in sperm development, adverse effects similar to human testicular dysgenesis syndrome. Prenatal exposure to DBP has been associated with anatomical changes in the reproductive system development in baby boys. In adult men, DBP has been correlated with changes in serum hormone levels, lower sperm concentration and motility, and decreased fertility.
About TOLUENE: A volatile petrochemical solvent and paint thinner, toluene is a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea. Mother’s exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may cause developmental damage in the fetus. In human epidemiological studies and in animal studies toluene has been also associated with toxicity to the immune system and a possible link to blood cancer such as malignant lymphoma.
About FORMALDEHYDE: Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic impurity released by a number of cosmetic preservatives, including diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, and sodium hydroxylmethylglycinate. According to reviews by the industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel, these cosmetic ingredients can release formaldehyde at levels as high as one-tenth that of the original ingredient (CIR 2006). Successful treatment of formaldehyde-triggered contact allergic dermatitis through substitution of body care products free of these preservatives (Flyvholm 1992) is implicit confirmation of the presence of low levels of formaldehyde in these products.
The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) has classified formaldehyde as ‘carcinogenic to humans,’ and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has classified it as ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,’ based on emerging evidence in humans and robust evidence in animals (IARC 2004; NTP 2005). Occupational exposures to formaldehyde gas are linked to nasal and nasopharyngeal cancers (IARC 2004; NTP 2005). Animal studies confirm this link, and also suggest an association between formaldehyde in drinking water and stomach and gastrointestinal cancer and leukemia (NTP 2005).
Despite the considerable health concerns associated with this carcinogen, until recently formaldehyde itself was a common ingredient of nail polish. Consumer pressure has now forced many major cosmetics manufacturers to voluntarily remove this ingredient from their nail products. European health protections now limit the concentration of formaldehyde in cosmetics to 0.2%, and require that body care products containing formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing ingredients be labeled with the warning ‘contains formaldehyde’ if the concentration of formaldehyde in the product exceeds 0.05% (SCCPNP 2002).
How To Find Non-Toxic Nail Polish
As I mentioned, EWG is an amazing source. Whenever I come across a product that claims to be “natural” I take few seconds to look up the ingredients on the bottle to be sure. Don’t always assume that a product labeled “clean”, “free”, or “natural” to be free of harmful chemicals. These terms aren’t regulated and can be misleading.
Thankfully there are more and more companies removing harmful ingredients from cosmetics. I’ve only tried one brand of non-toxic nail polish so far, Piggy Paint. Since I loved their nail polish so much I haven’t purchased any other brand. Piggy Paint caught my eye with their fun and bright colors. My daughters and I have been very happy with them.
If you’re looking for reviews from other brands, Katie from Wellness Mama did a thorough review of several brands of non-toxic nail polish on her blog here.