Many people love painting their nails or getting a manicure or pedicure at a nail salon to express themselves and feel good about their appearance. However, very few people think twice about what’s actually in that nail polish they are applying or the nail polish remover they use to take it off.
This article takes a closer look at what is commonly contained in nail polish products and how you can take a more natural approach to nail design.
Ingredients in Nail Polish
If you read the back of a bottle of nail polish that lists the ingredients, you’ll likely be overwhelmed with a lot of big words and even more questions. There are many potentially toxic ingredients contained in standard nail polish, including formaldehyde, which is has been linked to cancer but is still used as an embalmer, nail hardener, and preservative.
Meanwhile, the dibutyl phthalate in nail polish makes it less prone to cracking but has been banned in some countries because of the risk of reproductive harm. Toluene in nail polish can make it go on smoothly but may also put you at risk of nervous system symptoms like dizziness and headaches. Other nail polish ingredients to avoid if you can include camphor, xylene, and colophonium because of potential allergic problems and side effects.
Nail Polish Remover Ingredients
Not only are there concerns about what’s in nail polish but also in the products used to take it off your nails. There are two main types of nail polish remove: acetone and non-acetone.
Acetone is a harsher product that gets polish off nails more quickly but that is so strong that it can even disintegrate plastic. Non-acetone nail polish removers often use ethyl acetate and are gentler on nails, but that doesn’t mean they’re less toxic. In fact, ethyl acetate has been linked to cancer and neurological issues with prolonged exposure, according to some studies. Methanol and toluene should also be avoided in nail polish removers when possible.
Better Alternatives to Nail Polish and Nail Polish Remover
If you love having painting your nails, don’t be discouraged by all these scares of chemicals and toxins! Fortunately, there are healthier and more natural approaches that you can take when painting your nails. You can find natural and non-toxic nail polish products online that contain ingredients that are better for your body and have fewer health risks. Some brands to learn more about include Aila, Orosa, Sundays, and Zoya. You’ll often find language on natural nail polishes like “5 free” and “10 free,” and this means how many common toxic chemicals are eliminated from the formula.
Even the most committed DIY enthusiasts rarely make their own nail polish and polish removers at home, so commercial products are usually the best way to go from brands you trust. Sundays, Context, and Ella+Mila are a few brands that make nail polish removers that eliminate common toxins and focus on essential oils, moisturizing vitamins, and soy.