Spring is upon us, a time when Easter egg blues and periwinkle pastels grace the nails of women (and children) everywhere. Unbeknownst to many, also gracing these nail beds are harmful toxic chemicals found in nail polish that are given the green light by the FDA. Popular brands like Essie, OPI, Revlon and Sally Hansen are filled with toxins and parabens that are seriously NOT good for our health or our well-being…
You might argue that painting your nails will only expose you to small amounts of chemicals in low levels and yes, that may be true. But nail polish is just one beauty product that many women have been using on a regular basis for years. Makeup, lotion, shower gel, hairspray… it all adds up!
Most nail polish do not list their ingredients on the product and many do not list their ingredients online. I would be weary of any brand that does not disclose ingredients! I don’t know about you but I would probably be less likely to purchase a pre-made salad or acai bowl from the store if the packaging did not list the ingredients. Similar to food, I view my beauty products in the same light. I want to be informed about what I am putting in my body just as much as what I am putting on my body.
For your consideration, here is a condensed list of the 7 most popular toxic ingredients found in nail polish:
TPHP (Triphenyl Phosphate)
What it is: a chemical used in plastics manufacturing and as a fire retardant in foam furniture.
Harmful Effects: It is endocrine- disrupting (which means it can disrupt metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood) and causes reproductive and developmental irregularities in animals. Since TPHP is easily and quikly absorbed into the body, it can be absorbed into breast milk and is commonly found in urine. The most recent human studies show that TPHP interacts with a protein central to regulating the body’s metabolism and production of fat cells. Scientists are conducting more investigations to discover whether TPHP contributes to weight gain and obesity. (http://www.ewg.org/research/nailed/nail-polish-chemical-doubles-furniture-fire-retardant)
What it is: A clear, colorless liquid found in crude oil and is also produced in the process of making gasoline. Toluene is also found in paint thinners, adhesives, and rubber and in some printing and leather tanning processes.
Harmful Effects: Toluene poses serious health concerns including a major effect on your brain and nervous system. Additional health effects of potential concern may include immune, kidney, liver, and reproductive effects. (https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=159&tid=29)
Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)
What it is: A manufactured chemical used to make plastics more flexible and is also in carpet backings, paints, glue, insect repellents, hair spray and rocket fuel.
Harmful Effects: Known endocrine disruptor and can cause organ system toxicity. (https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701929/dibutyl_phthalate/)
What it is: A colorless, strong-smelling gas that is used in a range of products like furniture, paint, cigarettes, fertilizer and food and beauty preservatives.
Harmful Effects: Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen aka CANCER based on studies of inhalation exposure in humans and laboratory animals. The most common health problem in people exposed include irritation and cancer of the eyes, nose, and throat. You may be exposed by breathing, eating or by skin contact. (https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=218&tid=39)
What it is: a synthetic resin product made with formaldehyde as a base ingredient and commonly found in paints, varnishes and wood.
Harmful Effects: It is a skin allergen known to cause dermatitis and can also cause respiratory problems.
What it is: a common chemical used in airplane fuel, gasoline, printing, rubber, and leather production as well as in cleaning agents and paint thinners.
Harmful Effects: This chemical causes irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat; difficulty in breathing; impaired function of the lungs; delayed response to a visual stimulus; impaired memory; stomach discomfort; and possible changes in the liver and kidneys. Both short- and long-term exposure to high concentrations of xylene can also cause headaches, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, and changes in one’s sense of balance. Some people exposed to very high levels of xylene for a short period of time have died. (https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp71-c1-b.pdf)
What it is: A waxy, flammable, white or transparent solid with a strong aroma.
Harmful Effects: Camphor irritates the eyes , skin and respiratory tract. It can affect the central nervous system resulting in convulsions and respiratory depression. Exposure by ingestion may result in death. Camphor oil can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women and can cause birth defects even when inhaled. (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng1021.html)
Clearly, the FDA does a very poor job at regulating the cosmetic and beauty industry. In general, the FDA does not keep our well-being in mind. Non of the chemicals listed above should be anywhere near our bodies. Yet, they were all approved by the FDA in the creation of many popular nail polish brands sold everywhere from Target to Sephora. Rather than blindly trust that all FDA certifications for the products that you use are true, you should aim to be skeptical with your beauty and body products, just like you would be with ingredients in your food.
Here are a few non-toxic nail polish alternatives that are made without these “harmful 7” chemicals:
Priti NYC in Baby Blue Eyes 655
Pacifica 7 Free Nail Polish in Bianca
Ella + Mila in Champagne Pop
I believe it is our personal responsibility to both our health and the well-being of our families to do our homework and share the awareness! That is why I am so passionate about promoting a non-toxic lifestyle. By creating this awareness of toxins found in everyday FDA approved products like nail polish, maybe it can be a jump start for you to make the switch to green, non-toxic living. You only get one body in this life, cherish it and stay mindful of what you expose it to 🙂