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Toxic Chemicals in Nail Polish

Updated on March 14, 2017

You may not think about what could be in the nail polish you use. You just paint it on your fingernails, so it's safe, right?

As with many other beauty products, nail polish often contains chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

In fact, learning about the various toxic chemicals found in nail polish might even make you think twice, not only about the brand you use but whether or not you should ever use nail polish.

This article outlines what's in nail polish and how these chemicals can harm your health. So, what's in it?

Harmful Chemicals in Nail Polish

Formaldehyde: This is the same chemical used to preserve cadavers (this brings to mind funeral parlors and those dead animals you might have dissected in biology class.) Why is this in nail polish? It's commonly used to preserve the ingredients. Keep in mind that this is stuff you definitely don't want in your bloodstream.

Toluene: This ingredient is often used as a solvent and some people inhale it for its intoxicating effects, which can lead to severe neurological damage. It is usually produced as a by-product from turning oil into gasoline or processing coal.

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): This stuff has some pretty toxic effects. It only takes 10 grams of dibutyl phthalate to cause dizziness, nausea, and other serious symptoms. It's not something you want in your bloodstream or even on your nails.

Poison-free Tips For Keeping Your Nails Beautiful

Don't trust "Non-Toxic" labeling. Recent studies have revealed that some brands of nail polish that are advertised as "non-toxic" may actually have dangerous levels of harmful chemicals in them. Is this misleading advertising? Of course, it is! But it also means being wary of anything you might see on labeling and educating yourself about what goes into your favorite nail polish.

Remember that good-looking nails start from the inside. Nail polish isn't going to hide serious problems with your fingernails. Improving your nails' appearance may be as simple as adjusting your diet to include some of the building blocks that go into healthy nails and learning more about taking care of your nails.

Have you considered making your own nail polish? It's doable if you have the right recipe. Either find a good book with instructions on how to create homemade beauty products, or make sure you stay on the good side of someone who knows how to make their own nail polish.

Don't trust anything that's made out of the country Lead poisoning doesn't just happen with toys from foreign manufacturers. Foreign manufacturers might not care about what goes into the products they make, but rather how cheaply their products can be made. Your best bet is to find a nail polish that's made in America where quality standards exist (although there are few requirements for cosmetics as it stands.)

Learn More About Beauty Alternatives

There are many options for buying cosmetics and staying safe. Smart consumers are taking control of what they buy and what kind of choices they make.

One thing you can do (that will help you out a lot) is to learn what you can about the various chemicals found in commercial cosmetics. Find a company that cares so much about their consumers that safety is their number one goal.


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    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Great information Melanie. My daughter has been wanting to use nail polish but I couldn't find one that didn't contain some kind of nasty chemicals, so we gave up looking. I will investigate making our own.

      By the way, you may not know, but EU regulations for cosmetics tend to be stricter than the US ones, so buying from an EU country is a good bet, but outside of that I think you are right to be very wary of labels.

    • CWanamaker profile image

      CWanamaker 4 years ago from Arizona

      My wife is a certified nail technician and knows all too well the dangers of the chemicals in nail polish. She does this as a side job and will refuse service to a client that is pregnant or in a location that isn't properly ventilated.

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 4 years ago from Olney

      This is scary stuff...thanks for the heads up...:)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, this is terrible, as my granddaughter loves for me to paint her toenails just for fun, then I take it off a little while later. Thanks for the heads up in the very informative hub here. Voted up, interesting and useful

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