We can all agree that getting a mani/pedi is a great way to have some ‘me’ time. Self-care is very important for our mind, body, and soul but only when it's actually doing our bodies well. Make sure you avoid toxicity and opt for products that are non-toxic and nourish our bodies. The nail polish industry hit a record breaking fiscal year in 2012, with $768 million in profits, but are they doing so at the risk of our health? Conventional nail polish is one of the most toxic beauty products women use. Many polishes contain a slew of dangerous chemicals that are especially harmful to children and pregnant women.
Nail polishes often include chemicals such as:
- Toulene – Main concerns: dizziness, reproductive harm, and central nervous system problems. Also commonly used in gasoline. (Source)
- Formaldehyde– Known carcinogen. Very dangerous when inhaled or in contact with skin. Recent studies show prolonged exposure (can take as little as a few years) can cause a number of cancers. (Source)
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) - The Environmental Working Group (EWG) classifies it as the highest level of danger. Main concerns: organ problems, endocrine disruption, and reproductive issues, especially in boys. Europe has banned this chemical. (Source)
- PEG-12 Dimethicone - Due to the manufacturing process, it's most likely contaminated with Dioxane and Ethylene Oxide. They are both known carcinogens. Other concerns: linked to tumors of the liver, gallbladder, nasal cavity, lung, skin, and breast. (Source) (Source)
- HEMA & Di-Hema Trimethylhexyl Dicarbamate (often used together) - Main concerns: considered toxic allergens, and when in contact with skin, can cause skin or visceral tumors. (Source) (Source)
- And others - camphor, formaldehyde resin, butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA), and dibutyl phthalate.
Unfortunately, gel manicures are even more of a concern. A majority of gel polishes contain butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA) - a cancer causing agent, and is also linked to organ toxicity. They also contain many of the listed ingredients above.
Nail polish removers are just as hazardous and the fumes are especially damaging. Most removers are made with acetone. Acetone is known to irritate the respiratory system and cause damage to our nerves. It also strips the nail, making it up to 50% thinner which can lead to irritation and infection. Another problematic ingredient is octinoxate which causes biochemical and cellular changes disrupting and unbalancing our hormones. (Source) (Source)
Research :: Many polishes and removers can market themselves as being ‘three-free’ and ‘five-free’ by removing the biggest chemical offenders from their formulas (toulene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor), which makes their products safe and toxin-free, right? Sometimes it does but like the ingredients in food when something toxic is taken out they have to replace it. Companies can replace these ingredients with something better, still bad, or worse. So it's important to do your research and ask questions. Use the EWG's Skin Deep resource - while some ingredients and product have limited data, they are always working to update it.
Use Your Nose :: If your nail polish or polish remover stinks, then it's probably not the healthiest. Opt for products that don't have an odor.
Choose Nontoxic :: Just as we do with food and other beauty products, read the ingredients and watch out for the most harmful offenders. Choose clean, non-toxic, water based polish, preferably that is made in the United States.
Go Naked :: We often allow our nails and toes to go without polish for periods of time to allow our nail cells to detox, breathe, and rejuvenate. Our nails always look so much healthier when we do this, and it's nearly maintenance free!