When springtime and warm weather eventually start to roll around I generally have two things on my mind. The first being, "I really need to get the garden ready!" and the second, "I really need a pedicure!". Ok, so maybe I have a lot more on my mind than just veggies and flip flop season, but at some point those two things take a front seat and some serious work gets done. We aren't talking about gardening today, but we are going to see why you should probably take your favorite shades of OPI (Feelin' Hot-Hot-Hot!, anyone?) and trash them. Yikes! What did I just say? I couldn't possibly be serious, right? Why yes, I am, and I think you might agree... Ok, so let's take a step back -with brightly colored toes, I might add ;) -and let me tell you why I'm picking on the more mainstream nail polishes that we all use or have used before. Most of them are toxic-laden bottles full of chemicals that have no business on our nails. They are filled with ingredients that you should be concerned about and should probably be avoiding. What's scary is that there are no government based regulatory safety boards ensuring that the ingredients in our cosmetics are safe. Any cosmetic product out there that you assume is safe may be doing you more harm than good and you would never know it. The FDA doesn't have to review cosmetic ingredients before they hit the shelves, including nail polish. Here is a direct quote from fda.gov stating, "It is the responsibility of cosmetic manufacturers to ensure, before marketing their products, that the products are safe when used as directed in their label or under customary conditions of use." Basically, the manufacturers, not the FDA, are responsible for the safety of their own products. These are the same manufacturers who also want you as a consumer. Cue the red flags, please. Having said that, do you know what's in your nail polish? Largely, we are talking about toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP, also known as the "toxic trio". Let's define these:
Toluene: helps nail polish go on smoothly and adhere evenly to the nail. According to the EPA, toluene is a chemical added to gasoline to improve octane ratings, but has also been used in the production of polymers, like nail polish (and nylon and plastic soda bottles...). Low to moderate levels of toluene inhalation have resulted in dizziness, nausea, headaches, and depression to the more severe exposure which can negatively effect kidney and liver function. It is also a respiratory tract irritant. If your nail polish bottle reads No Toluene, you're safe, but if it doesn't you need to assume it's in there.
Formaldehyde or formaldehyde resin: helps nail polish to harden. First of all, formaldehyde stinks terribly. Remember that awful smell from advanced biology class when you were staring at a little piggy with scalpel in hand? Yeah, that one. Well you're willingly painting yourself with it. The EPA states that, "Besides the annoyance, it also causes acute eye burning and irritates mucous membranes and the respiratory tract. EPA has determined formaldehyde to be a probable human carcinogen." And carcinogen = cancer causer.
DBP or dibutyl phthalate: stops nail polish from chipping. It's no secret that scientists have shown that phthalates are another group of cancer causing toxins, endocrine disruptors and gender-benders (reproductive toxicity). They are so dangerous that the European Union has completely banned its use, naming it one of the top six harmful chemicals known to humans...
But look on the bright side! There are some safer options out there. The safest being wear nothing. The second safest option would be to find a nail polish that boldly labels themselves as having NO Toluene, NO Formaldehyde and NO DBP, also known as "3 Free". They may be harder to find in stores, but a quick search on Amazon or Google will find you many. I have two brands that I love. Karma Hues @ karmaorganicspa.com has an AMAZING line of organic nail care products. I have been sporting their "Another Beautiful Day in LA" shade of lavender inspired polish and I love it. I also tried it out on my fingernails (which I never do in the spring because my hands are always in the dirt) and it lasted longer than any other fingernail polish I have used in recent memory. I was impressed and I'm dying to try their Soybean Oil & Lavender Nail Polish Remover. I also like SpaRitual @ sparitual.com for their super fun and dynamic colors. You can't go wrong with either brand, but I would love to hear if you find another natural line that you love. More and more manufacturers are catching on to the "3 Free" movement so safer nail polishes will hopefully become more readily available. I hope I've offered you some insight into a very toxic beauty product that is often overlooked. Don't feel like throwing out your favorite chemical filled nail polish? Don't sweat it, but next time you go to purchase one try to make it up to your body by going "3 Free".
Until next time, Be Well.