Let’s talk nails.

We all love freshly coated, well-manicured and beautiful nails. But, until just recently, I hadn’t worn nail polish for a few good years. The problem I had with nail polish was the toxic chemicals contained in certainly almost all of them. The disturbing truth is that the beauty industry continues to be almost completely unregulated, and toxic ingredients may be found in products that claim to be natural. Would you use chemicals found in car paint or chemicals used to make furniture less flammable on your body? By applying toxic nail polish onto your nails, you are doing just that. Many brands are getting away with claiming their products are natural and using clever marketing tactics to draw consumers into purchasing their products. However, many of them contain toxic chemicals which are harmful for our bodies and ultimately, our long term health. Our body, skin and nails readily absorb everything we apply on it. Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in nail polish can leach into our bodies, even from a few thin layer of nail polish.

Toxic chemicals found in nail polish

Most nail polishes are filled with harsh, toxic chemicals which are extremely bad for our health. Wearing nail polish on a regular basis can cause nails to become brittle with the use of harsh fumes and toxic ingredients. The common ingredients found in nail polishes are:

The toxic trio

  • Toluene: Toluene is a toxic ingredient that can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritated eyes, loss of short-term memory, damage to the liver and kidneys.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): DBP can cause adverse effects on the thyroid function and linked to uterine cancer and testicular cancer.
    • Both Toluene and DBP have been proven to be toxic to an unborn child and linked to birth defeats, asthma and other chronic health conditions.
  • Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen which has been linked to causing skin irritation and dermatitis.

It’s important to look for brands that are labelled as “3-free” as these brands don’t use the ingredients listed above. But, hold on – it doesn’t just stop here. Some brands also describe themselves as “5-free”. These brands don’t use formaldehyde resin or camphor in addition to the ones listed above.

Alternatives – 100% Pure

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a completely ‘natural’ nail polish. But, there are certainly better options available which don’t contain any of those toxic ingredients. A recent purchase of mine was this creamy nail polish in the shade “velveteen” from one of my favourite brands, 100% Pure.

From the website, this was the ingredients list: Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol/Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer, Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Styrene/acrylates Copolymer, Stearalkonium Bentonite, N-butyl Alcohol, Benzophenone-1, Silica, Alumina, Trimethylpentanediyl Dibenzoate, Polyvinyl Butyral. May Contain: Aluminum Powder, Bismuth Oxychloride, Oxides, Red 34 Lake, Red 6 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide, Mica, Blue 1, Yellow 11, Titanium Dioxide, Violet 2, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Polybutylene Terephthalate, Ethylene/Va Copolymer


This nail polish has a 5-free formula, meaning its free from all those toxic ingredients listed above. It’s free of the common carcinogens in most nail polish: formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, camphor, and formaldehyde resin. Additionally, it is also paraben, acetone and synthetic fragrance free. That being said, the ingredients list does contain ingredients that are certainly not good to use on a regular basis or to wear for a long period of time. I would recommend not keeping the nail polish on for longer than required and having a clean nail polish remover handy to remove the nail polish safely.