Is Your Nail Polish Toxic and Harming You?


To the big fans and admirers of painted nails, this article is very important, perhaps because it will enlighten you as you make the decision to buy a Nail polish next time you plan to buy. You will be aware of the health issues causes out of continuous usage of more conventional Nail polish that are toxic as compared to Natural Nail polish. Conventional nail polish can be one of the most toxic beauty products around, as many contain a host of harmful chemicals. These chemicals are harmful to the users themselves and those around them especially children and pregnant women.

How conventional nail polish is harming you?

One might wonder how mere lacquer is that harmful to our health. Many of us think our limited contact with wet polish is too minimal to cause much risk. After all, we’re not drinking it! A study led by Duke University and the public health advocacy organization Environmental Working Group suggests that we absorb at least one potentially hormone-disrupting chemical every time we get a polish. While the impact of this chemical on our health is still unclear, the fact that our body can absorb chemicals through nail polish is cause for concern. There are three chemicals in conventional nail polish and are harmful to our health and also to our environment.

  • Toulene – Is colourless, water-insoluble liquid with a smell associated with paint thinners and it is commonly in use as a solvent for paints, polish, thinners, disinfectant and other many products. It is also in gasoline and causes central nervous system problems. Inhaling toluene may Cause severe neurological and reproductive harm as well as dizziness.
  • Formaldehyde – Also known carcinogen is in many nail polishes. It is also used to preserve dead things, and when used in lab preparations, there are strict warnings to avoid inhalation or skin contact.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) – This chemical is not in use in Europe and is known to cause reproductive problems, especially in boys. The Environmental working group classifies this chemical as the highest danger level and warns that it can cause organ problems and endocrine disruption.

The other chemical in question commonly used in the manufacture of numerous consumer products and mainly as an additional ingredient is triphenyl phosphate popularly known as TTP. Many manufacturers add it to products to make them less flammable but in Nail polish it is used to make the product Stick more strongly to the nail.

Nail Polish Range

TPP is one of the ingredients in about 49 percent of the 3,000 nail polishes and treatments in EWG’s database, but the group suspects there may be more companies who use the chemical but don’t disclose it. TPP is also commonly used in many consumer goods, like foam seating, bedding products, and electronic products, which might be why researchers have found the chemical in the majority of participants in studies on pregnant women and international samples of breast milk.

Companies have been using TPP in consumer products since its first establishment in 1910. A definitive report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international policy forum for democratic market-based governments, found in 2002 that because TPP causes almost no irritation to the skin and barely any irritation to the eyes, the chemical are of “low priority for further work” when it comes to human health. While people are advised to seek medical help immediately if accidentally ingested, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, it’s regarded as safe to use in products. 

However, worrying new correlation studies about the chemical’s potential to disrupt hormones in people and animals are causing scientists and activists to take a fresh look. In particular, the Duke study raises questions about the potential effects of low-level TPP absorption over time, which includes lower sperm concentration and an increase in prolactin, a hormone associated with sexual problems in men.

Chemicals in Polish

The absorption of TPP is through the particles in the air, and this makes the people who do nails for a living, awash in these chemicals and bear the brunt of their harmful effects on the body. Nail techs are exposed to these polishes all day through particles in the air; the potential risks are even greater for them than they are for consumers.


So with the toxicity in the conventional nail polish, where does this leave the admirers of Nail polish? Does this mean all nail polish have a toxic chemical ingredient that could harm you? The answer is no. With the concerns raised by Environmental activities and medical researchers Duke and EWC, Production of Natural Nail Polish by several companies has been an inevitable step towards offering safer and environmentally friendly products to the market. In order not to be brand biased, I will not mention any particular brand of a Natural nail polish but be advised you can find the approvals on the Environmental working group’s database. However, there are key pointers you can check as you look for a Natural Nail polish. One would be mostly many natural nail polish are Odourless or at least have a faint smell. Secondly, unlike the conventional nail polish with the famous three chemical solvents mentioned above, all natural nail polish have Water-based solvents and free from those chemicals, this perhaps makes natural nail polish easy to remove, just rubbing a piece of cotton dipped in alcohol on the nail surface and off it comes. So next time you make that decision you know. Avoid toxic nail polish and embrace Natural nail polish.


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