When it comes to nail care, nail varnish manufacturers have been trying to clean up their act for years. Globally, we’ve seen a marked change. Not only is nail varnish becoming less toxic and therefore clean, some companies are removing all animal by products and providing consumers with vegan options. Today, the majority of nail varnish is at a minimum 3-free, which means free of formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). This toxic trio was included in varnish formulations to provide chip-free longer-lasting wear. Some innovators and forward thinking companies in the nail care space are challenging industry standards even more. Many companies now offer 5-free or even 7- free formulations, with the added removal of formaldehyde resin and camphor. 7-free companies eliminate ethyl tosylamide, a plasticizer that is banned in European cosmetics and xylene an ingredient which may cause allergic reactions in some users.
One might think non-toxic nail varnish¬–that’s just too far but, keep in mind, the nail plate is a porous surface surrounded by our largest organ, the skin. According to the E.U. Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toluene and DBP are hormone inhibitors that may cause reproductive issues. Camphor and formaldehyde may cause allergic reactions and formaldehyde is also considered carcinogenic.
While nail varnish is pretty and adds to an overall polished look. Some of those amazing shimmery colors are made with fish scales, chemically named guanine. That classically beautiful red polish may contain crushed beetles, known as carmine or cochineal. Oleic acid or animal fat helps to increase varnish viscosity. Look for companies that are explicitly cruelty-free and/or vegan. Check out Sparitual, sparitual.com or Butter London, butterlondon.com
Once you’ve chosen your favorite clean beauty varnish, consider adding a clean polish remover. The main ingredient used in removers is acetone. According to an E. P. A. study, acetone may be toxic when inhaled. Acetone may also cause allergic reactions, skin sensitivity and it’s highly flammable. Consider, a non-acetone remover from Zoya, zoya.com or Ella + Mila, ellamila.com.
When shopping for varnish remember to pay attention to ingredients. A widely known toxic ingredient may be removed only to be replaced with an equally toxic but lesser-known ingredient. Bottom line check the ingredient and the facts.
Article written by Alicia JAI
Alicia Jai owns Peint, a non-toxic nail studio in Houston, TX USA.
She’s been featured in Nails Magazine, the Washington Post and other media outlets. Her editorial work has appeared in Allure and Elle magazines.
She’s worked backstage at New York Fashion Week and with everyone from the girl next door to Oscar nominees and Grammy winners.
Learn more about Alicia on Instagram @getpeinted or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.