holistic living, the yoga life
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Just How Dangerous Is Your Nail Polish?

Let’s face it, modern science has ushered in a plethora of amazing things that have helped change the world for the better. Unfortunately, it’s also brought in changes that create some very toxic-living environments, and we’re often unaware of the damage we do to our health through simple every day means.

I’m not really good at being a girly-girl. I seriously struggle to do my hair (I just learned how to use rollers this year, and just barely I might add) and contour makeup tips terrifying and confuse me. I don’t get it. You have to apply three colors on your face just to look as much like you’ve have plastic surgery as possible? No, thanks Kim K. I don’t mind looking the same with or without makeup. I do, however, love me a good, basic mani-pedi and I cannot go a day without shaving. These are my girly vices, and I plan on sticking to them for life, winter, spring, summer and fall. BAM! Nails did, hair…not so did. Sigh.

Skin and nails absorbs up to 60% of what is put on them.  You’re nails might seem tough nails, but they’re very porous, especially when wet.

What with loving all things natural, imagine my inner hippie horror when I found out that nail polish has bad—and I mean really bad ingredients in it. No big deal, you might say. We’re not drinking the ingredients or cooking with them. True, oh thought provoking devil’s advocate. So true. But, the skin and nails absorbs up to 60% of what is put on them, and I might add, we leave nail polish on for as long as we can make that manicure last before getting the next round. You’re nails might seem tough nails, but they’re very porous, especially when wet.

Just because I am a believer in giving other people nightmares for a good cause, here are the super harmful ingredients found in nail polish:

NAIL POLISH 101: aka Doom & Gloom Talk

Here’s what these chemicals do: aka Doom & Gloom Talk (is nothing sacred in life?!)


Dibutyl phthalate cause disruption to the endocrine system; it’s highly toxic to the reproductive system, messes with baby boy’s genitalia development, and is also linked to obesity. I will now blame nail polish for sabotaging my weight loss goals.


Toluene is toxic to the nervous system, impairs breathing, causes nausea, causes developmental damage to the fetus, and is linked to malignant lymphoma.


Formaldehyde has a huge carcinogen. It’s bad stuff, let me tell you.


A derivative of formaldehyde. It’s not as toxic, but is an allergen.


Camphor can cause liver damage in rare cases when applied to skin. For nail biters out there, it’s linked to seizures when ingested.

Now, you might be saying, I have never had a seizure from wearing nail polish. Good, I hope you haven’t. Wearing whatever polish you want is absolutely a-ok, but I thought this information was pretty eye opening (nightmares  for daaaaaaays, people!) and wanted to pass it on in case you wanted an easy way to make your life a little healthier.

Fortunately, there are alternatives, and many some are quite inexpensive. I get so sick of paying quadruple prices for healthier options. Why should we have to? There are two categories of nail polishes that aren’t bad for you:

The Big 3: Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, and Formaldehyde“3 Free” are nail polished that don’t have these ingredients. 

Brands: Sheswai, Wet & Wild, Honeybee Gardens, American Apparel, Butter London, CND, Deborah Lippmann, Essie, Estee Lauder (+ no formaldehyde resin) Hard Candy, Lancome (+ no formaldehyde resin), Le Metier, M.A.C. (+ no formaldehyde resin), Nars (+ no formaldehyde resin), Nicole, OPI, Priti NYC (+ no camphor), Spa Ritual (+ no formaldehyde resin), 

The Big 5: Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde,Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor“5 Free” are made without all five ingredients, and are much safer.

Brands: RGB, LVX, Suncoat, (water based, toxin-free) Chanel, Dashing Diva, Dior, Givenchy, Hopscotch Kids, Nubar, RGB, Scotch Naturals, Uslu Airlines, Zoya (Zoya is a long-lasting, toxin-free polish that’s amazing and not outrageously expensive) 

Life is about balance, not fear. So maybe start replacing your nail polishes one at a time till you transition over entirely to a healthier brand of polish.

There are tons of ways to be a little bit more healthy, and maybe this is one way you’d like to enhance your health. Maybe not. It’s not wrong to just throw some basic nail polish on your nails without living in fear of getting brain cancer. Life is about balance, not fear. So maybe start replacing your nail polishes one at a time till you transition over entirely to a healthier brand of polish. Sure, using a less toxic nail polish keeps me healthier on the outside, but if I’m paranoid and freaking out about toxins, that’s not really healthy on the inside. Let me know if you make the switch, and if you have any brands or info you’d like to recommend! Much love!


  1. kasandra says

    Haha I’m the same I rarely do my hair I did just learned how to pin curl it that’s my new thing I do my hair prob once a week it’s usually in a pony tail..I can’t stand makeup I don’t like anything about it I wear it only when we have somewhere special to go like a wedding or something it doesn’t make me feel petty I feel prettiest when my hair is in a pony tail and no makeup 🙂 I’m shocked about all those toxins in nail polish I’m a nail bitter I try not to bite them when I’m wearing nail polish but sometimes I can’t help it lol I’m gonna start switching all my 1000 nail polishes. Thank you for this info!


  2. I don’t really put nail polish on anymore because of all of these ingredients. I’ve switched to an organic vegan lifestyle, and I’m glad you posted this. I couldn’t have explained it better myself. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Process, Not Results | Phoenix in Paris

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