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Non Toxic Nail Polish For Kids: What Are The Best Brands & Why?

Updated on November 12, 2014
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All Natural Nail Polish For Children: A Good Idea

When my first daughter was born, I blissfully envisioned our mother-daughter relationship growing through the years; I pictured us making crafts, sewing, and of course partaking in the classic ritual of female bonding: putting on nail polish together. As she grew into a toddler, I began to question the wisdom of giving a pedicure to a three-year-old. Besides the obvious risk of purple polish being spilled onto the white carpet, what about the fumes? The long list of difficult to pronounce ingredients? And the effect of nail polish remover? I started to wonder: is nail polish safe for kids? With her health in mind, I started to research the ingredients in nail polish - and was fairly horrified by what I found. That was when I realized I needed a natural, non-toxic nail polish for my kids.

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Apparently I wasn’t alone. More and more women are becoming aware of the toxins inside the average bottle of nail polish, and searching for a healthier alternative for their curious children. Luckily, there are many companies now producing healthier nail polish. But what does ‘non-toxic’ or ‘all natural’ nail polish really mean? And is it really so bad to use regular polish on little fingers and toes now and then? In this article, I’ll explain the dangers of conventional nail polish, and why it should never be used on or around children. I will also introduce some of the best brands of non-toxic nail polish for kids, explain why they are better, and describe what makes a nail polish truly non-toxic. I’m sure you have kids clamoring for your attention, so let’s get to it!

What’s Really Lurking In Nail Polish? Why We Need Non-Toxic Versions For Kids

Conventional nail polish is basically a bottle of flammable poisons. By putting it on our nails and breathing the fumes it emits, we expose our bodies to a potent cocktail of toxins that wreak damage on many of the body’s systems. In children’s developing bodies, the effect of these toxins is particularly dangerous. Here’s a run-down of what we want to avoid:

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  • Formaldehyde - causes cancer in humans, and is used to preserve dead things
  • Toluene - causes kidney, liver, and brain damage, and seriously messes with how the body develops
  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) - damages hormone and fertility systems, and is so dangerous it is banned in the EU

Non Toxic Nail Polish Remover For Kids

When you are using non-toxic nail polish on your little ones, it makes sense to use non-toxic nail polish remover as well. I also reviewed these in another article here. Some brands even remove with water - simply soak the nails, then peel to remove. Easy and safe - perfect.

These are known as ‘the big three’. Add in formaldehyde resin, camphor, chemical solvents butyl or ethyl acetate, flammable compounds like nitrocellulose, benzophenone, heavy metals, parabens, and artificial pigments... We’d both have to be scientists to make sense of it all, but trust me: nail polish is full of crazy chemicals that are extremely toxic to kids. It should not come anywhere near your child. This isn’t great news for that little one who desperately wants his or her nails painted, but luckily there is a great alternative - the new development of natural, non-toxic nail polish for kids.

How To Find Truly Natural Nail Polishes For Kids

So how do we know which nail polishes are truly non-toxic and naturally safe for our kids? Many brands are hopping on the ‘healthier polish’ bandwagon, claiming to be non-toxic and safe. But the term non-toxic is used very broadly, and can mean a number of different things. Just because it says it’s non-toxic doesn’t mean it is safe enough for your child. In general, there are two types of nail polish that claim to be healthier. Let’s take a closer look.

Fun Fact:

The typical bottle of conventional nail polish can have upwards of 35 ingredients; the typical bottle of kids’ water-based nail polish may contain as few as 5!


  1. First, there is nail polish labelled ‘3-free’ or ‘5-free’, which calls itself non-toxic. This is still made with a base of chemical solvents. It is called non-toxic because it is made without the nastiest chemicals - either the worst three or the worst five. These polishes are a much better choice over mainstream polish; but they still contain other chemicals and can still have a lengthy ingredient list. A better term for them would be less-toxic; and although they advertise themselves as being safe for pregnant women and children, they still contain enough chemicals to scare me off.
  2. Second, there is nail polish labelled natural and non-toxic. This is made with a water base, and very few chemicals. These polishes are water-soluble and often have very few ingredients - usually just water and mineral-based pigments. Although they do contain some man-made ingredients, most remain completely biodegradable, and they are certainly by far the safest option for young bodies.

Performance Tips For Your Kids’ Water-Based Nail Polish

  • nails need to be hydrated and free of existing polish
  • Give nails a good buffing to condition the surface
  • Water-based polishes typically need a good amount of time to cure properly
  • Manufacturer’s recommend applying before your little one goes to bed
  • Or, aim a warm blow-dryer on the nails for two minutes to set the polish

Water-Based Nail Polish Is Truly Non Toxic: Good Options For Children

Water-based nail polish brands will typically contain water as a base, avoiding nasty solvents. This means water-based polishes do not give off any harmful odor. They will have an acrylic polymer - a substance that thickens the solution and dries to a film, which allows the pigments to stick on the nails. Acrylic polymer is neither toxic nor irritating to humans. Finally, the polish will contain pigment for color; most brands claim to use naturally-occurring mineral pigments. And overall they have fewer ingredients.

So Which Should You Choose?

It’s clear that water-based nail polish is the closest to natural - and the only type non-toxic enough for use with kids. But which one should you buy and why? I’ve done a lot of legwork in this department, and I’m happy to share the results with you. I’ve compiled my top five picks for natural, non-toxic nail polish suitable for kids. All of these are great, safe choices; you can decide which will work best for your child. It’s worth mentioning that all of these brands are water-based, all are made in North America, and most were developed by concerned mothers.

Hopscotch Kids

Founded on a mother’s mission to create safe, natural, and playful nail polish free from toxins, Hopscotch Kids offers thoughtful, kid-sized bottles and applicators, and a range of 19 playful and vibrant colors. Look for their top coat and polish remover as well, to give your kids the ultimate non-toxic nail polish experience. And for mommy, check out Scotch Naturals, the company’s line for grownups.

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Piggy Paint Base & Top Coat

Piggy Paint

Perhaps the most recognized brand in natural, non-toxic kids’ nail polish, Piggy Paint was founded by mom Melanie Hurley after she witnessed her daughter’s supposedly ‘safe for kids’ polish eat a hole in a styrofoam plate. The result of her determination is a truly non-toxic polish that is safe and not known to eat through anything. With 35 bright, fun shades, there’s one every child will go hog-wild for. Again, look for the base coat and top coat in this line, which will help the polish to last longer if that’s what you want. Take it off with any non-toxic nail polish remover.

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SuncoatGirl

This brand describes its polish as ‘bursting with attitude and none of the bad stuff’, and uses all natural pigments. To remove this polish, you only need a bowl of water on hand; after soaking, the polish peels off, which is a fun bonus. Definitely a natural, non-toxic nail polish your kids will enjoy. Suncoat also offers an adult version of this polish. Fun for the whole family!

Suncoast Polish 'n' Peel Review

Keeki Pure & Simple

With fun names like Lavender Custard, Hot Cocoa, and Blue Raspberry Punch, it’s easy to see why Keeki has quickly grown to international recognition. This line was developed by Natalie Bauss, a mom of two seeking safer cosmetic options. Designed with tweens and teens in mind, this is a fully biodegradable polish with only safe ingredients - natural and non-toxic for your kids, big and little alike.

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AllyKats

This brand offers natural water-based, non toxic nail polish for kids. As a fun element, these polishes are offered in heart- and star-shaped bottles which kids are sure to love. AllyKat nail polish is the peel-off variety, which makes it perfectly simple for kids to wear.

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Naturally, A Poll

What is your priority in a kids’ non toxic nail polish?

See results

Natural Nail Polish: Kids Are Worth It!

I hope this has been helpful in explaining what ‘non-toxic’ really means when it comes to nail polish for kids, and why the best choice by far is a safe, natural option. When we’re talking about growing little bodies, there is no such thing as being too cautious. By making conscious, careful choices about what we put on their nails, we can let them have fun, knowing that neither the kids nor the environment are in danger; and, we teach them the value of knowing what we’re exposing our bodies to. Teaching kids to make informed, healthy choices is worth every minute; and while we’re at it, let’s choose a better nail polish for ourselves, too.

If you find a favorite among these brands, I’d love to know which one you prefer and why. Or perhaps you’ll come across a natural polish that isn’t on this list. Either way, I’d love to hear in the comments section from you about your experience with non toxic nail polish - and what your kids think too!

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