Toxic Nail Polish

This week on Pinterest there have been a lot of pictures of scary nail polishes- which led me to this post. Most of us don’t think twice about what we put on our nails- or even our children’s. Of course we do not eat nail polish, so why worry about it. But the main ingredients in most nail polishes are noxious chemicals which are hard for your liver to process. Long term toxic chemical exposure burdens your liver which causes all sorts of health problems. Are pretty nails really worth it? Especially for children or if you are pregnant?

2 years ago I was introduced to several “natural” lines of nail polishes and I thought I had it all figured out. But guess what… I’ve been duped again. According to Fig+Sage there is no such thing as organic or even “natural” nail polish. It would take all night for your nails to dry if they were truly chemical- free and they sure wouldn’t be shiny!

But what about the past reviews I’ve done about Piggy Paint? When I did my past reviews, PP didn’t release their ingredients. So I had nothing to look up. I believed what they told me- that they were as “natural as mud.” And the styrofoam test (look above) had me convinced! They recently published their ingredients, and I found out they use:
Water, acrylates copolymer, butoxy diglycol, Neolone 950. May contain mica, red 34 lake, ultramarines, titanium dioxide, iron oxide pigments


OK, so that isn’t as bas as OPI:
Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Tosylamide/Epoxy Resin, Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Benzophenone-1, Silica, Trimethylpentanediyl Dibenzoate, Polyvinyl Butyral. May contain: [+/- CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 15850 (Red 6, Red 7), CI 15880 (Red 34), CI 77491, CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77510 (Ferric Ferrocyanide), CI 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride), Polyethylene Terephthalate, CI 77000 (Aluminum Powder), Mica, CI 77007 (Ultramarines), Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Ethylene/VA Copolymer, Tin Oxide, CI 77120 (Barium Sulfate), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet).

But still, the last time I checked, mud didn’t contain Neolone 950. Neolone 950 is a formaldehyde-free preservative with the active ingredient Methylisothiazolinon. Even though Neolone 950’s manufacturer says the bactericide is safe, doesn’t bioaccumulate, and degrades, its active ingredient, Methylisothiazolinon, has been found in various marine species and has been considered a neurotoxin. Maybe the concentration level is so low in the Neolone 950 that it’s not harmful or the tests run are picking up the active ingredient instead. Either way, it’s not “natural as mud.”

I’m also disappointed that red 34 lake is used since it is a coal tar dye. There is no safety testing info available, so information about the dye is not known or limited. The Good Guide says it has concerns about the mica and titanium dioxide in the Piggy Paint, but otherwise they scored the product a 8- low concern. I would not label this product 100% non-toxic, chemical free, or by any means natural. Safer than some, yes. But don’t be a “naturalwasher” as Fig+Sage put it.

The blogger also called out other “naturalwashing” companies that used water-based formula’s like Acquarella, Scotch Naturals, Suncoat, and solvent-based formulas like Priti NYC, Peacekeeper, Butter London, Zoya, Sheswai, and Revlon. You can see their ingredients in her post. Solvent based formula’s will have the chemical smell, so I would choose a water-based if you are pregnant or want to paint your child’s nails.  Even though none of these polishes are natural, they are free of the 3 worst polish offending chemicals: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalates, and toluene.

Majority of regular fingernail polishes contain formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalates, toluene, coal tar dyes, and other toxic cocktails. These harmful ingredients can cause miscarriages, birth defects, infertility, cancer, allergic reactions, asthma, they are endocrine disruptors, and can cause other severe health problems. Now this is JUST from the nail polish itself!


If you take a trip to your local nail salon, you have a whole new array of harmful chemicals to worry about- not only on your nails but what you are inhaling while you are being pampered. Some cheap salons still use the poisonous illegal chemical methyl methacrylate or MMA for acrylic nails. They also can use fiberglass which is harmful if inhaled. The nail polish removers are usually acetone or ethyl acetate, which can also contain other toxic fragrances.  It’s no wonder the workers wear masks and gloves. We won’t even begin to discuss what’s in their lotions, glues, bath salts, waxes, and spray dry coats.


There are greener options for spa’s and mani/pedi salons. You can always soak your feet in a pot with some warm water and make your own bath salts. If you do want to paint your nails, go with a water-based polish. It may not last as long as a solvent-based polish, but it has less chemicals and doesn’t smell. But mainly know what you are buying isn’t natural. And majority aren’t worth the extra $10. 



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