Are all nail polishes safe?


The dilemma most of us have at the salon is whether to go for a classic mani-pedi or for gelish colour and go bold for a change. There may even be times when we flirt with the idea of getting some nail art done. Unfortunately, what we are not usually thinking about is whether our manicure/pedicure habit is affecting our health.

So, what’s in your nail polish?
Contrary to popular belief, nails are actually quite porous. So, if you think that nail polish sits on top of the nails and it shouldn’t matter what goes on this outer layer, that is a misconception. It is important that, as with any other product you use on your skin, you check the ingredients included in your nail polish. Particularly if you are trying to make the transition to a non-toxic and organic lifestyle, you may be surprised to find that some of these beauty staples are formulated with harmful chemicals, such as toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde – collectively known as the ‘toxic trio’. This is because formaldehyde has been linked to cancer, dibutyl phthalate is a known endocrine disruptor which may impact the reproductive system, and toluene can be harmful to unborn foetuses and could lead to respiratory complications. Although the subject of how much exposure is required for the average woman to be seriously affected is up for debate and further research, the potential risk is still concerning.

The good news
The good news is that there are now alternative options and health-conscious brands that are “three-free”, foregoing formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene. Some even go further by creating nail varnishes that are five-, seven-, or even nine-free formulas. One of our favourites, Smith & Cult, makes long-wearing, pigment-rich nail colours with an exclusive ‘8-Free formula’ excluding nasties such as dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide and triphenyl phosphate from their ingredients. With such safer options now available in the market, it is no longer necessary to compromise on luxury or quality while having the beautiful, glossy nails you desire.

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