Sometimes in our quest to be healthy, we forget the small things—like our fingers and toes. It can’t be a good thing when you’re nails turn yellow after wearing nail polish. And who wants to leave pretty nails just for the summer or that one special event here and there to cover up those yellow nails when you have to bare all in those strappy sandals? Not only do we want to avoid the dreaded yellow nails, but all those toxins in the polish and removers that strip our nails of their natural oils and protection—leaving them brittle and dry. Without having to give up those pretty nails, let’s look at the main ingredients to avoid and the healthy, healthier, and healthiest alternatives!
The three main ingredients to avoid in nail polish are toluene, dibutylphthalate (DBP), and formaldehyde. The main nail polish companies seem to be moving away from “the big three,” but that doesn’t mean they are good for you—just better than others or what they used to be.
Removing the big three toxins is a start, and many companies have done just that—and only that. It doesn’t guarantee that there are no other chemicals in their products. For example, OPI has removed the toxic trio but still has resin and some acetate. If you look at their bottle it says “Nail Lacquer”—not quite as comforting sounding as “polish” no matter which one has more chemicals! According to the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic safety database, OPI’s nail polish is ranked middle of the road in terms of hazard. On the other hand, their cuticle products and nail strengthening products are very hazardous. It is kind of ironic that the nail strengthening products are so bad for your nails.
Another healthy choice is the vegan polish known as SpaRitual. Going beyond just eliminating “the big three” like above, they also removed the resin, synthetic dyes, parabens, and petrochemicals. Although they still contain butyl and ethel acetate, SpaRitual is a great alternative to many other polishes and offers a huge variety of colors to satisfy whatever mood you are in.
Water based nail polish seems the way to go if you are looking for one of the healthier options. Hopscotch Kids WaterColors (don’t let the “kids” stop you from trying this out) is a colorful non-toxic, kid-friendly alternative to solvent-based nail polish. Their water-based formula is free of the harsh, smelly chemicals including toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, nitrocellulose, butyl and ethyl acetates, acetone, FD&C, coal tar and lake colors.
With 25 fun and flirty colors, Honeybee Gardens is another water-based nail polish. This odorless, non-toxic formula contains NO FD&C colors, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, xylene, or formaldehyde. Check out their link for tips on prepping and applying water-based polishes for the best results.
For the healthiest option Karma Organic Spa created not only organic and non toxic nail polishes, but a completely eco friendly spa in New Jersey. They boast a plethora of colors whatever your mood is, and be guaranteed your nails won’t turn yellow. As far as polish removers go, opt for Karma Organic’s soy based nail polish remover. It is a favorite on so many levels, first being that we don’t have to wear a gas mask to use it, coming in lavender and tea tree scents (or unscented)! It is also 100% biodegradable, non toxic, non carcinogenic, and free of petroleum ingredients. Karma Organic supports local farms in the US by using their products. Don’t forget to recycle the glass bottles when you are done using these products.
While this is a favorite among celebrities and boasts a non toxic polish (which would fall under the “healthy” category due to still containing butyl and ethel acetate), Priti NYC offers a sweet smelling soy based nail polish remover that is 100% biodegradable, non toxic, non carcinogenic, and free of acetone and petroleum. It not only removes the polish, but leaves hands and nails feeling moisturized and nourished. Why would you use anything else? More than just pretty nails, Priti NYC is also very active in working with various charities and events in the community that support both environmental and women’s issues. The brand regularly collaborates with other socially conscious companies and charities, including Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation, Group for the East End’s Ecofabulous in the Hamptons, and Teens Turning Green to develop a private label polish exclusively for Whole Foods Market.
The questions that beg to be answered: What is the point of having these toxins in our products? Why were they used in the first place? Who thought it was a good idea to use these chemicals that can potentially cause reproductive damage, cancer, and allergies? In the end, regardless if all these companies fail to rid their products of toxins, we can make the effort and rest assured in choices we have made and will continue to make for ourselves to be healthy and toxin free and educate our friends and family about a healthier future.