all natural nail polish

Dangers of toxic nail polish- best toxin-free polishes 2023

Ah, there’s nothing quite like the bliss of a perfect mani-pedi, right? But let me tell you, the more I’ve delved into the world of nail polish toxins, the more I have learned about the dangerous chemicals in most nail polishes.

There is scientific research about the dangers of using toxic nail polishes. In this post, learn about what brands contain harmful chemicals and which ones are safe to use.

We’ll delve into the dangers of these toxic ingredients and explore the compelling reasons to switch to non-toxic nail polishes.

I hope after reading this you will be inspired to use clean nail polishes instead of your old standard polish. Most polishes are packed with chemicals that are absorbed by your body within hours after application.

The truth is that traditional nail polishes contain a toxic trio of dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde resin, and triphenyl phosphate, among other harmful chemicals.YUCK!!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Dripping nail polish
Dripping nail polish

Scientific Evidence About Toxic Chemicals In Nail Polish

A team of researchers, including an environmental health professor from the School of Public Health, has uncovered evidence suggesting that toxic chemicals, particularly an endocrine-disrupting chemical, found frequently in nail polishes, permeates the bodies of women during the process of nail painting.

Conducted by Duke University, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Professor Thomas Webster of the School of Public Health, the study revealed that, within 10 to 14 hours of applying nail polish, all 26 female participants exhibited a metabolite of triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) in their bodies.

Let’s be real friends, the FDA does not protect us from many harmful chemicals. We need to look out for ourselves because no one else is.

Chemicals That Should Be Banned In The US

Since 2009, 595 cosmetics manufacturers have reported using 88 chemicals, in more than 73,000 products, that have been linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.

Many of these chemicals should be banned from cosmetics, as proposed in California Assembly Bill 2762, the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. Among the toxic chemicals that should be banned are:

  • Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
  • Paraformaldehyde, a type of formaldehyde.
  • Methylene glycol, a type of formaldehyde.
  • Quaternium 15, which releases formaldehyde.
  • Mercury, which can damage the kidneys and nervous system.
  • Dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalates, which disrupt hormones and damage the reproductive system.
  • Isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, which disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.
  • The long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer.
  • M- and o-phenylenediamine, used in hair dyes, which irritate and sensitize the skin, damage DNA and can cause cancer.
Close up of woman painting her nails
Painting nails with nail polish containing chemicals

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

The dirty truth is that the levels of diphenyl phosphate, a byproduct formed during the body’s metabolism of TPHP, increased sevenfold.

Manufacturers primarily use TPHP as a flame retardant or plasticizer, and they list it as an ingredient in about half of nail polishes. Scientists grow more concerned about TPHP because of animal studies revealing its potential to disrupt the endocrine system, leading to reproductive, developmental, and other issues.

List Of Toxic Nail Polish Brands

The following list of popular nail polish brands contain harmful chemicals. I know it sucks. If you want to use safe clean nail polishes avoid the following list below.

  • Sally Hansen
  • Essie
  • OPI
  • Revlon
  • Milani
  • Wet N Wild
  • Spa Ritual
  • Orly
  • The Balm
  • Nuance BY Salma Hayek
  • Beauty Without Cruelty

Standard Nail Polishes and Health Concerns:

Traditional nail polishes often include the toxic trio—dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde resin, and triphenyl phosphate. These dangerous harsh chemicals have been linked to various health concerns, ranging from damage to the nervous system to reproductive harm.

Long-term exposure to these toxins can be particularly concerning, making it essential to reconsider our choices in nail care products. Standard nail polishes, including base coats, top coats, and nail hardeners, may also contain other harmful ingredients like ethyl tosylamide and antibiotic-resistant tert-butyl hydroperoxide.

These substances can pose risks to not only our own health but also the environment. Nail salons, often using conventional nail polish and removers, contribute to the release of harmful chemicals into the air, affecting both customers and salon workers.

The Clean Beauty Movement:

The clean beauty movement advocates for products that are free from harmful dangerous chemicals and cruelty-free, creating a shift towards safer alternatives. Non-toxic nail polishes offer a safer option for beautiful nails without compromising health. The good news is the new beauty trends are focusing on being clean.

Use These Non-Toxic Clean Nail Polishes Instead

Thankfully, the beauty industry has responded to these concerns with a plethora of non-toxic nail polish brands. There are brands committed to clean beauty, use plant-based ingredients, essential oils, and natural alternatives in their formulas.

These brands prioritize the well-being of consumers, animals, and the environment, making them an idea for anyone looking to make a positive change.

The Top Clean Nail Polish Brands- Non-toxic

Gabriel Nail Polish

Affordable! Gabriel Cosmetics nail polishes perform great for under $10. I prefer their opaque shades over their shimmery ones. A good non-toxic nail polish choice.

Walmart: $12.00

Photo Credit: Walmart

Free Chemistry

Made without: formaldehyde, TPHP, toluene, ethyl tosylamide, dibutyl phthalate, xylene, formaldehyde resin, guanine, formaldehyde donors, carmine, camphor, gluten, lead, methylisothiazolinone, MEHQ, mineral oil, parabens, styrene, bisphenol A, nonylphenol ethoxylate, acetone, and sulfates.

Photo Credit: Amazon


L.A. Girl Gel

SkinSAFE has reviewed the ingredients of L.A Girl Gel Polish, Eden, 0.47 fl oz and found it to be 91% Top Allergen Free and free of Gluten, Coconut, Nickel, Top Common Allergy Causing Preservatives, Lanolin, Paraben, Topical Antibiotic, MCI/MI, Soy, Propylene Glycol, Oil, and SLS. Product is Teen Safe.

Photo Credit: EWG

Emillie Heathe

This beautiful lacquer collide in the fashionable world of Emilie Heathe. If you’re looking for a beautiful red or deep, rich shades Emilie Heathe has a sophisticated range of high-performance colors.

Check it out

Photo Credit: Nordstrom

Kure Bazaar

Popular French brand, Kure Bazaar is 4-free and made of up to 85% natural origin including wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn.  

Photo Credit: Amazon

London Town

Formulated to provide nails with the perfect balance of strength and moisturization, the polish is a breakthrough combination of high-impact color and the brand’s proprietary kur® care.

Amazon: $16.00

Photo Credit: Amazon


Formulated without formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutul,phthalate,toluene, camphor, TPHP, parabens, XYLENE, Ethyl, Tosylamide and lead.

Amazon: $17.00

Photo Credit: Amazon


A gel-like nail polish that delivers ultrarich and glittery color to your nails that’s also resistant to chipping.

Nordstrom: $19.00

Photo Credit: Nordstrom

ella+mila "First Aid Kiss" Nail Strengthener - Nail Care Solution & Growth Treatment for Thin, Brittle & Damaged Nails - Nail Hardener with Vitamin E (0

Ella + Mila

ella+mila “First Aid Kiss” Nail Strengthener – Nail Care Solution & Growth Treatment for Thin, Brittle & Damaged Nails – Nail Hardener with Vitamin E.

Amazon: $10.00

Photo Credit: Amazon

Nail Polish And Environmental Impact

Choosing non-toxic nail polish not only benefits personal health but also contributes to reducing our carbon footprint. Renewable energy sources, plant-based ingredients, and eco-friendly packaging are common practices among responsible non-toxic nail polish brands. This aligns with global initiatives such as those in the European Union and New York City, which regulate the use of certain harmful ingredients in beauty products.

Nail Polish Remover Is Also Toxic

Acetone-based nail polish removers contain poisonous ingredients such as dimethyl ketone and dimethyl formaldehyde which cause damaging effects to the body. It can lead to cardiovascular dysfunction as it lowers blood pressure. It also affects the gastrointestinal system by causing nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

Safety for All:

Non-toxic nail polishes are particularly suitable for pregnant women, individuals with sensitive skin, and those who want to avoid animal-derived ingredients. With an extensive selection toxic-free nail polishes available, consumers can enjoy beautiful colors without worrying about exposure to known carcinogens or endocrine disruptors.

In the quest for the perfect manicure, it’s crucial to prioritize health and environmental sustainability. Non-toxic nail polishes offer a safer alternative to traditional options, providing gorgeous nails without the harmful chemicals

By adopting these cleaner options, we not only protect our own well-being but also contribute to a healthier, more sustainable beauty industry. So, why not make the switch today and take the first step towards a cleaner and more beautiful future?

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Clean Nail Polish

  1. What are the health risks associated with toxic nail polish ingredients?
    • Answer: Exposure to chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP may lead to respiratory issues, skin irritation, and, in some cases, more severe health problems. Pregnant women are often advised to avoid certain nail polish chemicals due to potential risks to the developing fetus.
  2. What does “5-free,” “7-free,” or “10-free” mean?
    • Answer: These terms refer to the absence of certain harmful chemicals in the nail polish formula. For example, “5-free” means the polish doesn’t contain formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, or camphor. Higher numbers (e.g., “10-free”) indicate the exclusion of even more potentially harmful ingredients.
  3. Are natural or organic nail polishes safer?
    • Answer: Natural or organic nail polishes may use alternative, plant-based ingredients and exclude some harmful chemicals. However, the term “natural” is not regulated, so it’s essential to check the ingredient list for specifics. Even natural formulations can still cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
  4. Can nail polish be absorbed through the nails?
    • Answer: While the nails themselves are not very permeable, the skin around the nails and the cuticles can absorb some substances. Prolonged exposure to certain chemicals in nail polish may pose risks, especially if there are cuts or abrasions on the skin.
  5. How can I find non-toxic nail polish brands?
    • Answer: Look for brands that advertise as “5-free” or more, indicating a commitment to excluding harmful chemicals. Many companies also promote their products as vegan, cruelty-free, and free from other specific toxins.
  6. Are gel polishes less toxic than regular nail polish?
    • Answer: Gel polishes often contain similar chemicals, but the application process and ingredients can vary. Some people prefer gels because they may last longer, reducing the frequency of nail polish application.

Similar Posts