Is Nail Polish Safe?

For most of us we have become avid label readers.  We like to know what we put into and onto our bodies and are concerned about safety.  Organic is a term used frequently but unfortunately there is not a lot of governmental regulation to control it.  The term natural is also used but many substances found in nature are not good for us and can actually be toxic.  While some others may be benign, in combination, they become harmful.  This post will deal with nail polish.

There are three substances that you will frequently find in nail products.

Dibutyl Phthalate in Nail Polish (DBP)

This is a chemical that makes products flexible and is often called a plasticizer.  Tests have been performed with this substance but no human testing has been published.  The studies have been on animal exposure.  So far, there seems to be no significant long or short term toxicity.  There may be some side effects like nausea and irritation in the facial area.  In animals studies there seems to be indicators that male reproduction can be affected.

Toluene in Nail Polish

This is a colorless product used to even out color.  It is also an element used in making glue and is the inhalant in glue sniffing.  Because of its use in sniffing, it has been the subject of studies.  Side effects are dizziness, numbness, dry skin, and irritation in the nasal and throat passages.  Toluene in its liquid form is more dangerous than the gas but most nail polish uses levels below the danger level.

Formaldehyde in Nail Polish

You may remember this substance from high school biology.  That is what the frog was preserved in before your dissection.  It is also used as a hardening agent in nail polish and is well known as a carcinogen that can lead to cancer in humans.  This is one of those “natural products” that is found in very low levels in some fruits and are basically harmless.  However, in nail polish the limit can still be well above safe limits.

Related: Best Moisturizer After IPL Treatment

Triphenyl Phosphate in Nail Polish

Also found in some types of polish, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) is a chemical that can disrupt hormones in the body.  The most frightening part of this substance is that it is absorbed into the body every time nail polish is applied.

 Pregnancy safe nail polish

In general, staying away from chemicals on your skin and hair during pregnancy is probably best. There may be less toxic nail polishes but none have been studied in pregnant women.

Even more alarming is that sometimes these chemicals are not listed on the product label.  If they are listed, it is likely that they are concealed among the other harmless materials.  Also, side effects are not listed on the tiny labels necessary on a bottle of nail polish.

Another important thing to remember is that any of these ingredients can be included in not only the colored polish, but top coats, thinners, nail art, and combination products.

Before you buy your next supply, you might want to check out reliable sources for a list of safe manufacturers.  Then you can bring your own choices into the salon or for use at home. And always ask your dermatologist before using any new products!

We discuss products we think are useful to people. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. Remember to check with your personal physician to see if a product recommended is right for you.

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