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What is Non-Toxic Nail Polish?

By Pamela Pleasant
Updated May 17, 2024
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Non-toxic nail polish does not contain any harmful or damaging chemicals. Most nail polishes contain safe chemicals that help the polish to stay on the nail or to enhance the color tints. These same brands can also contain harmful chemicals that are linked to certain medical conditions and illnesses. Non-toxic nail polish can offer the same results without having to worry about being exposed to unnecessary dangerous chemicals. They can be a safe alternative, especially when they are being used by younger children.

Toluene, a chemical found in many brands polish, has an overpowering scent that is similar to paint remover or turpentine. If this chemical is ingested, it can cause liver and kidney damage, anemia, or problems with the upper respiratory tract. The chemical toluene is also thought to be a teratogen, which means that it may cause serious birth defects. If this substance is inhaled for a long period of time, it could cause chemical pneumonitis — a condition that is potentially fatal. Non-toxic nail polish does not contain toluene.

Another common ingredient found in many brands of nail polish is formaldehyde. This known carcinogen has been linked to certain cancers such as leukemia. In nail polish, it is used as a preservative and it also has a very strong odor. Overexposure for a short period of time can cause symptoms that include skin irritation, nausea, and a painful throat. Long-term exposure can considerably increase the chances for having a lower white blood cell count, infections, malignant tumors, and hematological cancers.

Dibutyl phthalate is another potentially harmful chemical that is found in most types of nail polish. It can cause stomach distress as well as damage to the respiratory system. Certain types of cancers have also been linked to this chemical, which is not only harmful to people but can also harm the ecosystem. The use of Dibutyl phthalate has been banned in many parts of the world.

Some brands of non-toxic nail polish may not produce the same results as polishes that contain chemicals. Nail polish remover contains a chemical called acetone. It quickly absorbs into the soil and is redistributed into the air and water and it can cause breathing difficulties as well as organ damage and birth defects. Non-toxic nail polish remover is a way to remove colors without being exposed to this harmful chemical.

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Discussion Comments

By Spotiche5 — On Aug 29, 2014

I think that you can get very good results from non-toxic nail polish. For years I have been wearing several brands that do not contain the harmful ingredients mentioned in this article, and I have found them to last just as long as regular nail polish. The smell is also not as offensive as that of typical nail polish, and the colors are vibrant and beautiful.

By Ocelot60 — On Aug 28, 2014

Most beauty supply stores and even some retail stores carry a variety of non-toxic nail polish brands. Though they may be a bit more costly than ordinary nail polish, the peace of mind they provide is worth the extra cost.

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